The packaging of chocolate, candy & snacks (2021)

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An analysis of the sector is reported starting with the 2020 final figures prepared by the Italian Packaging Institute based on Unionfood data. Data for the year 2021 and assumptions for 2022, on the other hand, are processed based on ISTAT changes in both production and foreign trade.

Barbara Iascone
Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

Table 1. Balance sheet of the “chocolate, candy & snacks” sector. Quantitative values expressed in tons.
  2020 2021 21/20 Ipotesi 2022 22/21
Production 428,600 449,131 4.80% 494,044 10.00%
Import 176,055 195,195 10.90% 204,955 5.00%
Export 423,827 468,873 10.60% 539,204 15.00%
Total 180,828 175,453 -3.00% 159,795 -8.90%
Source: data processing by Istituto Italiano Imballaggio on Istat and Unionfood data.

The “confectionery, candies, chocolates and chocolates, snacks” sector represents a very important area of the food industry for the Italian economy: in 2021 it accounted for about 3.2% of the overall turnover of the food industry, showing a growth of 10% compared to the previous year. Thus, after a decidedly declining 2020, the sector has at least partially recovered its losses: on the production front, in fact, it recorded +4.8%. Up on 2020, both exports and imports were up, by 10.6% and 10.9%, respectively. This is a decidedly diverse industry, and each of the types listed has many variations.

Think, for example, of the chocolate compartment-the broadest of all-where we find both chocolates and chocolate bars of various kinds, chocolate eggs for Easter festivities, but also cake mixes, cocoa powders and spreads. Evolutionary assumptions for 2022 focus on a confirmation of production growth around 10%, which continues to be driven by export performance, of which a further +15% is expected compared to the previous year.

Table 2. Segmentation of the “chocolate, candy & snacks” sector. Quantities in tons.
  2020 2021 21/20
Sweets, gums, confectionary 102,700 108,862 6.00%
Chocolates and festivities 133,800 173,940 30.00%
Chocolate bars 60,400 71,212 17.90%
Cake mixes (including cocoa) 1,900 1,045 -45.00%
Snacks 56,600 27,168 -52.00%
Spreads 73,200 66,905 -8.60%
Total 428,600 449,131 4.80%
Source: data processing by Istituto Italiano Imballaggio on Istat and Unionfood data.

A “sweet” segmentation

According to Unionfood’s classification, the sector is divided into several segments.

  • The most representative remains the world of “chocolates and recurrence products” (about 38.7% of the global), which, according to ISTAT, is expected to grow by about 30% in 2021. Significantly influencing this trend was the consumption of chocolate eggs during the 2021 Easter holidays, which were very different from the previous year’s lockdown, with the impossibility of celebrating except in the small family unit. Exports were also very influential in this regard, thanks to a strong recovery estimated at around 7%.
  • With 24.2% representation we find the category “candies, gums and sugared almonds,” which also includes chewing gum, candies, nougats, etc. In 2021 this segment also appears to be growing, with production registering +6% compared to 2020.
  • This is followed by the segment of chocolate bars, both filled and unfilled, plain, with added nuts, dark, milk, or white (about 15.9% of the overall), and the segment of spreadable creams (14.9%), which are, however, down compared to 2020.
  • Finally, snacks (6% representation) and cake mixes, including cocoa powder, at 0.2%.
Table 3. Incidence on the overall “chocolate, candy & snacks” sector of individual segments.
  2021
Sweets, gums, confectionary 24.20%
Chocolates and festivities 38.70%
Chocolate bars 15.90%
Cake mixes (including cocoa) 0.20%
Snacks 6.00%
Spreads 14.90%
Total 100.00%
Source: data processing by Istituto Italiano Imballaggio on Istat and Unionfood data.

Types of packaging

The sector sees a clear prevalence of flexible converter packaging, which, due to its characteristics, is able to keep intact the organoleptic properties of the product, its freshness, aroma, etc. These packages are also able to provide an appealing image of the product, and this, in marketing terms, is an important plus.
Considering the sector as a whole, spreadable creams aside, this type of packaging has a 55.5% share. It is followed, with 17%, by packaging made of aluminum foil for wrapping chocolate bars or Easter eggs and flexible plastic packaging (pouches and bags) with 14.8%.
Cardboard cases, mostly used to package candy and chewing gum, are at 11%.
They are followed at a great distance by other packaging, used to a much lesser extent than the previous ones: fancy steel boxes used for candies and chocolates (1.3%), paper bags (0.3%), and, finally, rigid plastic packaging, for example, for large-format chewing gum packages (0.1%).

Separate discussion deserves spreadable creams, where the glass jar reigns with 79% share; followed by single-serve plastic tubs (11%) and plastic cups (7%). Finally, we have the aluminum flexible tube, which ranks at 3%. In 2021, there were about 135,000 tons of packaging used in this food area, considering primary packaging, secondary packaging, transport packaging, accessories and closures. Corrugated cardboard, used exclusively for transport, exceeded 62,000 tons. Out of 59,000 tons of primary packaging, almost 17,000 can be attributed to converter hoses, which, considering their extreme lightness, is a definitely significant figure. Just as significant is the amount of glass jars, about 27,000 tons, used only for spreadable creams.

Table 4. Packaging mix in the “chocolate, candy & snacks” sector. Values % reforming to tons of packaging.
  2021
Converte flexibles 55.50%
Flexible aluminium 17%
Flexible plastic 14.80%
Cardboard 11%
Steel 1.30%
Paper 0.30%
Rigid plastic 0.10%
Source: data processing by Istituto Italiano Imballaggio on Istat and Unionfood data.
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Istituto Italiano Imballaggio