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Ending 2005 with sales gains and ranking third among food categories, the candy and gum industry has big expectations for the year, with dark chocolate, new gum products, "everyday gourmet" and fortified sweets among the confectionery trends on tap for 2006/2007.
According to the National Confectioners Association, key trends for the coming year include:
-- Dark and Delicious -- Dark chocolates remain one of consumers' favorite candies. Made with the finest ingredients and high cocoa content, dark chocolates continue to dominate the marketplace with new creations like Ghirardelli Intense Dark Gourmet Chocolate Bars, Botticelli Choco-Omeg and Nestle Raisinets Dark.
-- Gum Goodies — With handfuls of new products on the market from fruity flavors to innovative shapes and sizes, bubble gum reigns as a royalty in the confectionery industry. New gum sensations include Ford Gum & Machine Co. Pomegranate Power, Farley's and Sathers Super Bubble Blast (chewy on the outside with a liquid center) and Cadbury Adam's Stride (the Ridiculously Long Lasting Gum.)
-- Gourmet Everyday -- Consumers continue to demand high-end chocolates and other sophisticated sweets. Debuting this year in the category: Chocolate Bowl Dark Almond Chocolates and Sweet Candy Company Gourmet Taffy Twists, which combine classic gourmet taffy in a new creative fashion.
-- Fortified Sweets — Nutrient-charged jellybeans and flavored strips deliver powerful vitamins and skin-enhancing ingredients in the latest flavors. Hitting shelves soon, N.I. Corporation Pure Beauty Strips with collagen and ceramide, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans Jelly Beans in fruit punch and berry blue.
-- Sugar-Free Sweets and Healthy Treats — For the health conscious, there are a plethora of new twists on candies from sugarless creations to portion-controlled chocolate sticks and candy infused with natural fruit juices to 100-calorie packs. Simply Lite Foods' Sunkist fruit gummies with Vitamin C, Hershey Sticks (a 60-calories chocolate treat) and sugar-free Dove Dark are just a few examples of new items.
-- Pumping the Palate — Lip puckering sours and sweet berry blends deliver an intense candy experience. Sour Jacks Sour Apples, Toxic Waste Sour Chew Bar and Topps Juicy Drop Pop Sweet! and Sour! are a few products taste buds won't soon forget.
-- Indulgent Delights — Inspired by everyday indulgencies, manufacturers are fusing the flavors of espresso, home-baked apple pie and fruity smoothies into their candy creations providing additional tastes for everyday pleasures. Delights this year include Jim Beam Chocolate Bourbon and NECCO Wafers Smoothie and Creme Savers Deserts in flavors such as cinnamon bun and apple pie a la mode.
-- Kiddie Creations — New candy doubles as a treat and an activity. New items include Monster Memos, kids can eat their own words with sweetened wafer paper and food coloring pens and Tung Toos, tasty tattoos for the tongue.