McLEAN, Va. -- In 1997 per capita consumption of confectionery products reached a record 27.3 pounds per person in the United States.
These figures were released late last month by the National Confectioners Association here and its sister agency, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association.
NCA reports that the per capita figure translates into a 1.5% increase in consumption per person. According to the Department of Commerce, the average American now consumes 12.1 pounds of chocolate candy, 12.6 pounds of non-chocolate candy, 1.8 pounds of gum and 0.8% of nondefined confectionery products annually.
Chocolate per capita consumption rose 1% in 1997, non-chocolate grew 4.1%, but gum showed a 5.2% decline.
The Department of Commerce reports that since 1993 per capita consumption of confectionery products has grown from 23.6 pounds per person to 27.3 pounds, a total increase of over 15%. During the same period, total consumption of confectionery products has grown from 6 billion pounds to 7.3 billion pounds, a 21.7% increase, or an average increase of 5.4% per year.
Susan Smith, vice president, public affairs, NCA, said some of the growth is coming from seasonal products.
"The seasonal products are doing very well. Easter sales were really good, and that might be behind a lot of the growth," she said.
Ever since E.T. ate Reese's Pieces, candy companies have been looking to capitalize on big Hollywood tie-ins. Although this summer's "Godzilla" did not live up to expectations at the box office, candy products based on the film, and others, like "Armageddon" have done well.
"Licensing is certainly big in this industry," Smith said.
She cited boxed chocolates as another candy sector that has performed well.
"That is partly from the marketing of the boxed chocolate companies, but in general the gourmet chocolates are doing well. The people who are purchasing Starbucks and fine wines are also buying good chocolates, and so that is also increasing sales," she said.
Smith said one reason nonchocolates are growing faster than chocolates may simply be because nonchocolates offer more variety, especially when it comes to kids' novelties.