Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Trending Flavors and Ingredients in Desserts and Confections Consumer market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

Consumers are calling for renovations in the desserts and confections aisle after a year of turning to indulgent and familiar foods for comfort. Brands in this category have an opportunity to meet consumer aspirations to make healthier lifestyle choices, and sugar is the first place to start: 41% of consumers would like to see more desserts and confections that are naturally sweetened (honey, fruit). High levels of refined sugar and artificial substitutes are likely to continue falling out of favor with consumers who are looking for more natural swaps.

While dessert and confection sales soared during the pandemic, Mintel predicts sales gains to begin leveling off as consumers return to foodservice establishments for indulgent foods. In addition, while convenience was not as much of a factor during 2020, an emphasis on portability and convenience will return.

Brands and operators have an opportunity to highlight the experience of desserts and confections through flavor innovation, which can take multiple shapes: co-branding and category blurring creates novelty and playfulness, and emerging flavors with roots in international cuisine will add a sense of exploration and adventure. Innovation in the category has blurred the lines between categories through combination flavors and products leveraging the foundations of classic treats. Nearly half of all consumers like desserts and confections that remind them of their childhood, and these flavors are showing up in new products and in new ways.

Read on to discover more about the US Trending Flavors and Ingredients in Desserts and Confections consumer market, read our The Future of Chocolate, Sugar & Gum Confectionery: 2021 report, or take a look at our other Food And Foodservice Market research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the dessert and confections market.
  • Consumer experience and interest in familiar and trending dessert and confection flavors.
  • The biggest dessert and confection product development opportunities now and in the future.
  • Preferred textures by dessert and confection type.
  • Desserts market research.
  • Attitudes and behaviors toward dessert and confection flavors.

Covered in this report

Brands include: Simple Mills, Kraft Heinz, Kit Kat, Reese’s, Duncan Hines, Froot Loops, Cornflakes, Fruity Pebbles, Shake Shack, Jeni’s, Milk Bar, Snack Pack, Fanta, Smart Swets, Z0cal, Yogurtland, Forever Yogurt, Cantina Laredo, Maître Truffout Grazioso, Häagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s, Dada, Sugarfina, Odd Fellows, Mike’s Hot Honey, Signature Select, Kaurina’s Ice Cream, GoodPop, Verb Energy, Eat Your Coffee, Clif, Magnolia Premium, Wong Coco Jubes, Morinaga, Elizabeth Street Café, Uchi, Chowking.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Alyssa Hangartner, a leading analyst in the Flavor and Ingredient sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The desserts and confections market performed well during the pandemic as consumers leaned into indulgence for comfort, but consumers are aspiring to make improvements to their health and diets. Brands are in a position to align dessert and confection innovation to meet these aspirations through encouraging mindful indulging practices, opting for lighter textures and formats, as well as renovating sweetener systems to make treats more permissible. Flavor innovation will also play a role in maintaining engagement with consumers in this transitionary period. Co-branding and blurring the lines between treat categories gives consumers the best of both worlds in desserts and candy while creating novelty by mashing up products in an unexpected but delightful way.
Alyssa Hangartner, Flavor and Ingredient Trends Analyst
Alyssa Hangartner
Flavor and Ingredient Trends Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US sales of select desserts and confections, at current prices, 2018-21
    • Impact of COVID-19 on desserts and confections
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on desserts and confections, 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Pandemic sales boost to desserts and confections will taper
      • Figure 3: Dessert and confection consumption, 2020-21
    • Overindulging is over
      • Figure 4: Dessert and confection attitudes and behaviors, 2021
    • Lighter textures align with health and wellness trends, lend a health halo
      • Figure 5: Preferred dessert and confection textures, by generation, 2021
    • Trending international cuisines point to flavor growth potential
      • Figure 6: Experience and interest in dessert and confection flavors, 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • COVID-19-induced stress eating boosted sweets sales
    • Sugar is still the enemy, but there are varied approaches to reducing consumption
    • Position desserts and confections as mindful self-care
  4. State of the Market

    • Comfort-seeking consumers drove pandemic dessert sales, but healthy aspirations are setting in
      • Figure 7: Total US sales of select desserts and confections, at current prices, 2018-21
  5. Dessert and Confections Consumed

    • Frozen treats found a sweet spot during the pandemic
      • Figure 8: Dessert and confection consumption, 2020-21
    • Engage with older generations through fresh baked flavors and ingredients
      • Figure 9: Dessert and confection consumption, by generation, 2021
  6. Consumer Approach to Sugar

      • Figure 10: Consumer approach to sugar, 2021
    • Natural Sweet Tooths
    • Low/No Seekers
    • Sugar Avoiders
    • Indifferent Eaters
      • Figure 11: Dessert and confection varieties, by approach to sugar, 2021
    • Feature real fruit
      • Figure 12: Dessert and confection attitudes, by consumer approach to sugar, 2021
    • Artificial sweeteners struggle to compete with refined sugar
      • Figure 13: Correspondence analysis – Perceptions of select types of sugars and sweeteners, 2020
  7. Market Opportunities

    • Encourage mindful indulging for stress relief
      • Figure 14: Relationship with food and drink, by generation, 2020
    • Blur category lines in pudding and brownies
      • Figure 15: Attitudes toward desserts and confections, by desserts and confections consumed, 2021
    • Lighter textures defy generation boundaries
      • Figure 16: Preferred dessert and confection textures, by generation, 2021
  8. Product Development – Key Takeaways

    • Co-branding and category blurring creates novelty
    • Look to trending international cuisines for the next big dessert and confection flavors
  9. Product Development – Now – What’s Trending

    • Hybrid products and mix-and-match flavors create novelty
      • Figure 17: Dessert and candy combinations and co-branding, 2021
    • Trending fruit flavors take consumers to the tropics
      • Figure 18: Experience and interest in dessert and confection flavors, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 19: Innovation featuring tropical fruit flavors in retail and foodservice desserts and confections, 2020-21
    • Brands find inspiration in premium crafted beverages
      • Figure 20: Coffee- and bourbon-flavored dessert and confection innovation, 2016-21
    • Foodservice operators differentiate through specialized variations on classic flavors
      • Figure 21: Menu matrix of dessert flavors in foodservice, Q4 2017-Q4 2020
  10. Product Development – Near – What To Watch For

    • Matcha is a potential stand-in for familiar tea flavors
      • Figure 22: Experience and interest in matcha as a dessert and confection flavor, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 23: Matcha-flavored dessert and confection innovation
    • Spiced flavor profiles add dimension to chocolate and frozen treats
      • Figure 24: Experience and interest in spiced flavor profiles in desserts and confections, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 25: Dessert and confection innovation including spiced flavor profiles
    • Flavor meets function in coffee-flavored snack bars
      • Figure 26: Interest in espresso-flavored desserts and confections, by varieties consumed, 2021
      • Figure 27: Snack bar innovation featuring energy boost claims and espresso flavors, 2021
  11. Product Development – Next – What’s In The Pipeline

    • Look to trending cuisines for next-generation flavors
      • Figure 28: Dessert and confection innovation featuring flavors popular among Asian cuisines
    • Gelled/jelly textured are growing but consumers have yet to lean in
      • Figure 29: Percentage change in dessert and confection textures among new products, 2016-20
  12. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Classic flavors can act as an anchor for emerging flavors
    • Future generations are calling for better sweetener solutions
    • Lighter textures can add a health halo to desserts and confections
  13. Dessert and Confection Attitudes and Behaviors

    • The future of desserts and confections is not super sweet
      • Figure 30: Dessert and confection attitudes and behaviors, 2021
    • Gen Z calls for more naturally sweetened options
      • Figure 31: Dessert and confection attitudes and behaviors, by generation, 2021
    • On-trend flavor innovation will refresh chocolate-coated treats for young consumers
      • Figure 32: Dessert and confection attitudes and behaviors, by generation, 2021
  14. Preferred Dessert and Confection Textures

    • Smooth, creamy textures are foundational
      • Figure 33: Preferred dessert and confection textures, 2021
    • Play with textures in pudding
      • Figure 34: Preferred dessert and confection textures, by dessert and confection consumption, 2021
  15. Primary Dessert and Confection Flavors

    • Consumers opt for traditional dessert, candy flavors
      • Figure 35: Primary dessert and confection flavors, April 2021
    • Use classic flavors as an anchor for new innovation
      • Figure 36: Repertoire of dessert and candy flavors, by demographic, 2021
    • Regionally inspired flavor pairings can make an impact
      • Figure 37: Primary dessert and confection flavors, by region, April 2021
    • For Gen Zers, keep it simple and classic, with a twist
      • Figure 38: Primary dessert and confection flavors, by generation, April 2021
  16. Experience and Interest in Dessert and Confection Flavors – Near

    • Create approachable adventure through tropical fruits
      • Figure 39: Experience and interest in dessert and confection flavors, 2021
    • Premium, craft flavors create intentional indulgence
      • Figure 40: Experience and interest in dessert and confection flavors, by generation, 2021
  17. Experience and Interest in Dessert and Confection Flavors – Next

    • International cuisines will influence the next big dessert and candy flavors
      • Figure 41: Experience and interest in dessert and confection flavors, 2021
    • Adventurous consumers crave new experiences even when indulging
      • Figure 42: Experience and interest in dessert and confection flavors – NET, by interest in trying new flavors, 2021
  18. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Menu Matrix Methodology
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations

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