Trick or Treat is a favorite Halloween tradition of families across the United States. What’s the trick to enjoying your favorite Halloween treats without candy overload? Moderation, according to the results of a new national survey from the National Confectioners Association (NCA).
As the holiday approaches, nearly 80 percent of parents report that they have a plan in place to help their children make smart decisions when it comes to the enjoyment of treats. More than three-quarters of Americans will hand out candy to trick-or-treaters this year and many others will participate in community-sponsored Halloween events, display a seasonal candy bowl or attend a Halloween party. NCA projects that retail sales of Halloween candy in 2015 will be $2.6 billion, a boost to the U.S. economy that helps support 55,000 manufacturing jobs and hundreds of thousands of jobs in related industries.
“People understand that candy is a treat, and this year’s survey tells us that they are celebrating Halloween in more ways than ever and practicing moderation,” said Alison Bodor, executive vice president of the National Confectioners Association, in a news release. “Parents, including me, are embracing Halloween celebrations and traditions, but we’re also using the holiday as an opportunity to teach our children how to enjoy candy as a fun part of a balanced lifestyle.”
Bodor added that the U.S. confectionery industry supports 465,000 American jobs. “From our industry’s own manufacturers to the jobs we help support on the farms where our ingredients are grown and in the stores where our products are sold, candy makers are supporting good-paying jobs in this country. Confectioners are vital to the economic success of their communities – at Halloween and year round.”
According to NCA’s seasonal survey, more than 90 percent of parents discuss or plan to discuss balance and moderation with their children relative to their candy consumption, and while most report having these conversations year-round, many use the holiday as a starting point.
Those who stay home to hand out candy also recognize the importance of balance and moderation. More than 60 percent of respondents prefer to hand candy to trick-or-treaters, rather than having the ghosts and goblins help themselves, and nearly 60 percent of those surveyed believe that up to two pieces is just the right amount per household.
Halloween Is Meant For Sharing
Halloween continues to be the top candy-giving holiday with 86 percent of people gifting or sharing chocolate or other candy. Seven in 10 people believe that holidays like Halloween are meant for enjoying candy, and that it is important to do so in moderation. Parents support the notion that sharing is a critical piece of the Halloween celebration – a full 80 percent report that they enjoy some of their children’s Halloween bounty. Twenty-three percent report sneaking candy when the kids aren’t looking while 57 percent report instituting a house rule that candy must be shared.
Candy Is Always A Treat
NCA’s survey revealed that 81 percent of Americans support the notion that candy is a treat and 75 percent agree that it is okay to enjoy seasonal chocolate or candy. Almost 20 percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy seasonal candy in smaller portion sizes than they were five years ago.
Everyone Has A Favorite
Americans love chocolate year-round, and Halloween is no exception. A full 70 percent of people say chocolate is their favorite Halloween treat, followed by candy corn (13 percent), chewy candy (6 percent) and gummy candy (5 percent). Despite chocolate’s popularity, most Americans (63 percent) say they stock their trick-or-treat candy bowls with a mix of chocolate and non-chocolate, so that they can be sure to have something everyone will like. When it comes to selecting candies in shapes like spiders, eyeballs and brains to inspire seasonal celebrations, parents are 24 percent more likely than non-parents to pick creepy candy over other Halloween themes.
Keeping An Eye On The Candy Stash
Nearly four in five parents (79 percent) encourage moderation by keeping tabs on their children’s candy consumption following Halloween, but they take different approaches. Thirty-five percent of parents limit their children to a certain number of pieces per day, 14 percent limit kids to a total number of pieces overall while 9 percent limit kids to a general amount of calories and then take the rest away. Twenty-one percent opt to take responsibility for the candy and dole it out as appropriate.
NCA supported research at Pennsylvania State University to help parents learn practices that promote balance and moderation with treats in their homes. As part of that research, a scientific literature review published recently in the Journal of Pediatric Obesity concludes that simply restricting or forbidding children from having snack foods or other treats, like candy, is not an effective approach to helping them learn how to consume these foods in moderation.
Examiner reached out to Susan Whiteside, Vice President of Public Relations & Marketing Communications for the National Confectioners Association for more information about candy trends and teaching children and teens to enjoy candy and sweets in moderation.
Examiner: Based on industry statistics, are Americans consuming more candy, less candy or about the same amount as five years ago?
Whiteside: Americans enjoy candy 2-3 times a week, averaging less than 50 calories per day from candy. The percentage of calories contributed to our diets from candy has remained relatively stable across many years. However, what consumers purchase has shifted. You may have noticed the smaller, taste-sized options in re-sealable packages in recent years (Snickers Bites, York Minis and Butterfinger Cups Minis Unwrapped are all examples). We’ve seen tremendous consumer response to these every day products. More specific to the Halloween, a recent consumer poll we conducted revealed that Americans are 20 percent more likely to purchase seasonal candy in smaller portions than they were five years ago.
Examiner: Can you offer a few age-appropriate suggestions about how parents can open a discussion with children and teens about eating candy and other sweets in moderation?
Whiteside: We have a GREAT resource on our website with ten tips for Halloween, perfect for just this occasion. As a mom of a young child, I particularly find the first four — don’t prohibit treats, make a plan, set a specific routine and make it a teaching opportunity — very helpful. Parents of older children may find that the tips on candy portions, savoring the flavor and making it easy to follow the house rules are more helpful to them.
Examiner: As Halloween and Christmas approach, are there any new products or flavors on the candy scene?
Whiteside: The candy industry has not escaped the pumpkin spice craze. There are pumpkin spice candy corn, Hershey’s Kisses and Peeps, and pumpkin spice latte M&Ms. We’re also seeing a lot of caramel, caramel apple and even caramel macchiato-flavors this year. Maple is popping up in more products as well. At Christmas, we’re seeing more inventive treatments for peppermint (peppermint mocha for example) and eggnog. I even tried a chocolate bar with pine oil at our annual Sweets & Snacks Expo.
Examiner: What trends do you see in the candy industry at this time?
Whiteside: Current trends include:
- The infusion of nuts/dried fruits — Sales of chocolate infused with hazelnuts are up 9 percent, chocolate with almonds up 4 percent and dried fruits (a much smaller segment overall) up 56 percent in the past 52 weeks.
- Re-sealable packaging — The resealable packages have been tremendously popular with a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 percent across the globe. They allow people to treat themselves and easily share with others. We expect to see continued growth in this area.
- Dark chocolate — Dark chocolate sales grew by more than 9 percent in the past year. But even within dark chocolate, we see a shift from dark to darker: 57 percent of Americans say they have shifted to a higher cocoa percentage in their chocolate purchases in recent years.
“Confectionery is a wonderful product for delivering on shopper needs and desires – it’s incredibly flexible and versatile,” Whiteside adds. “Our members are some of the most innovative consumer product goods companies in the world. Whether it’s introducing re-sealable packaging, making organic products, simplifying ingredient lists or launching the trendiest new flavors, there is a candy company working to make it happen for consumers.”
Kids practice what their parents model. It’s easy to stay sweet on Halloween by embracing moderation — and you’ll teach your kids to enjoy candy and sweets as part of a balanced lifestyle. One final suggestion from NCA: be sure to eat before you trick-or-treat. Hungry kids are more likely to gobble down candy between stops so be sure to have dinner first.
Check out the articles below for more Halloween fun, tips for pumpkin carving and Trick or Treat, Halloween recipes and recipes for the special foods of October for a meal everyone in the family will love.