Follow and listen to our podcast

StashLearn
Get the app
Get the app

Join millions of investors on Stash

Investing, simplified

Start today with as little as $5
Get the app
Life

The Companies Creating Colossal Cuts of Cash Curing Your Candy Cravings

October 29, 2018

  • Americans spend $21.5 billion on candy every year
  • The average U.S. consumer eats 22 pounds annually
  • America’s best selling candy is M&Ms
3 min read

There’s a candy for almost every season, holiday, or occasion.

On Valentine’s Day, we break out the Sweethearts or boxes of chocolates. When Halloween rolls around, you can’t swing a black cat without running into a bowl of candy corn. And around Christmas, candy canes are everywhere you look.

And, of course, there are all of the Whitman’s Samplers that are given as gifts, the Dum Dums lollipops present on thousands of reception desks, and the Snickers, Starburst, and Skittles picked up at the last minute by sugar-hungry shoppers at stores all across the country.

All told, it adds up to a pretty sweet deal for those who like sweets—candy is seemingly everywhere, all the time. In fact, the average U.S. consumer eats 22 pounds of candy every year. That’s equivalent to eating a portly Boston Terrier, composed of pure sugar, on an annual basis.

And the companies producing all of that candy are turning America’s love of sweet treats into cash.

Willy Wonka was on to something: An overview of the U.S. candy industry

Candy, sweets, lollies—whatever you want to call it—is all a subset of the confectionery industry. Confections are foods that contain high levels of sugar and carbohydrates, and typically come in two types: bakers’ confections (baked goods, typically), and sugar confections.

Sweets, as we know them, are sugar confections, and they include candy bars, chewing gum, chocolate, caramels, and the wide assortment of treats that we call “candy”.

And in the U.S., consumers buy a lot of it. In 2016, Americans spent $21.5 billion on candy, according to industry data. Worldwide, the confectionery industry is magnitudes larger. Total retail sales were more than $186 billion in 2017.

Source: Nielsen, 2016

Candy sales are expected to scale well into the future, according to industry analysts, with revenue in almost every subset of the industry—including caramels, gummies, gum, and more—forecast to grow as well.

The candy industry employs more than 56,000 U.S. workers, manufacturing our favorite sweets and treats, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. For comparison, that’s roughly the same amount employed by the domestic beer industry (~60,000).

And even that isn’t enough to satisfy America’s sweet tooth. An additional 7 million metric tons of sugar, sweeteners, and candy are imported every year from around the world, too, according to government data.

The industry’s sweetest

The candy industry, like most others in the U.S., has its champions. The big industry names are so intricately and delicately swirled into the daily shopping mix that it can be hard to imagine a check-out aisle without them—think of the ubiquitous Hershey’s or Mars.

Here are the biggest candy companies in North America, according to industry data:

Others big names with smaller footholds in the candy market include Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Tootsie Roll, See’s, Bazooka, and Jelly Belly.

As far as individual products go, these are the most popular candies in the U.S.:

Coming down from the sugar high

There’s a lot to like about candy. It’s delicious, comes in a variety of wacky flavors and colors, and you can use it to bribe children to do just about anything. Plus, it has a fairly large economic footprint, driving billions of dollars in sales every year, and employing tens of thousands of U.S. workers.

But there can be too much of a good thing. And with candy, that’s especially true—there’s a reason your parents didn’t let you eat only sugary treats when you were a child, after all.

The biggest issue with candy is that it can be unhealthy. Most candies contain large amounts of sugar, calories, and carbohydrates, all of which are best consumed in moderation.

But more than 93 million Americans are obese, accounting for nearly 40% of the population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The consumption of candy and other sweets is not the sole origin of the obesity epidemic, nor is it alone in propagating it—fast food is another problem area. But sugar-rich foods, like candy, do feed into it. Excess sugar consumption is getting more attention, and the amount of sugar that many people are eating is far more than recommended.

The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume no more than 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. But the average American is consuming nearly 20 teaspoons per day, and some of that is likely delivered through various candies and treats.

Sweeten your portfolio

Craving something sweet for your investment portfolio? You can invest in companies that support the candy and confectionery industry on Stash.

Investing, simplified

Start today with as little as $5

Get the App

By Stash Team

Next for you
Can You Pass The Financial “Marshmallow Test”?

Investment Profile

Bonds Worldwide

An International Bond ETF on Stash

Learn more
Explore more articlesChoose a topic to learn more about
budgeting pop culture social media politics Technology
Disclaimers

This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, represents an assessment of the market environment as of the date of publication, is subject to change without notice, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice or opinion. Stash assumes no obligation to provide notifications of changes in any factors that could affect the information provided. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any issuer or security in particular. The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective.

Furthermore, the information presented does not take into consideration commissions, tax implications, or other transactional costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy or investment decision. This information is not intended as a recommendation to invest in any particular asset class or strategy or as a promise of future performance. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions or is suitable for all investors. Each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should not substitute these materials for professional services, and should seek advice from an independent advisor before acting on any information presented. Before investing, please carefully consider your willingness to take on risk and your financial ability to afford investment losses when deciding how much individual security exposure to have in your investment portfolio.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. There is a potential for loss as well as gain in investing. Stash does not represent in any manner that the circumstances described herein will result in any particular outcome. While the data and analysis Stash uses from third party sources is believed to be reliable, Stash does not guarantee the accuracy of such information. Nothing in this article should be considered as a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any particular security or investment product or to engage in any investment strategy. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Stash does not provide personalized financial planning to investors, such as estate, tax, or retirement planning. Investment advisory services are only provided to investors who become Stash Clients pursuant to a written Advisory Agreement. For more information please visit www.stashinvest.com/disclosures.