Functional confectionery niche continues to grow, says Naturex

The functional confectionery market remains niche but is growing rapidly as candy makers look for new ways to differentiate their products, according to ingredients firm Naturex.

 At the IFT show in Chicago this week, Naturex showcased its ginseng and guarana ingredients in citrus flavored energy chews, which also contained the company’s pectin for texture, and natural paprika color.

“Functional claims within confectionery are growing, but it is still a niche market,” said food and beverage business unit director Paul Janthial. “…But we have seen it growing as a way for manufacturers to differentiate themselves.”

He said that Naturex is one of the key players in the ginseng market, importing more than 100 tonnes of ginseng from China each year, with demand driven by high awareness of the ingredient’s function among consumers.

Last year, a report
from Leatherhead Food Research valued the global functional confectionery sector at $11bn, having grown 38% since 2006. However, it noted that the functional segment only accounted for 8% of the total confectionery market, and had failed to enter the mainstream in the same way as functional ingredients in the bakery and dairy sectors.

Yet Naturex business manager Amandine De Santi said that energy remained a popular benefit among US consumers, with a growing number looking for a natural pick-me-up.

“We’ve seen a number of successful energy confectionery launches in recent times, and we’ve developed our Energy Chews to demonstrate how we can help manufacturers and marketers looking to enter this exciting market,” she said. “…We can also work closely with businesses to help them combine our extracts and create the finished products that are right for them.”

The UK, Spain, Germany and the United States are among the strongest markets for functional confectionery, according to Leatherhead, although most innovation comes from Japan. It names Wrigley as the world’s leading player in functional confectionery, with its medicated candy and fortified gums.