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While a growing health and wellness trend swept across most packaged food categories and negatively affected demand for sugary products, chocolate confectionery remained comparatively unscathed. Chocolate confectionery continued to be considered an indulgence and consumers purchased it out of enjoyment, which is why the two main players, Mondelez and Orkla, both stated that they have no intention of introducing any sugar-free chocolate products or using stevia as a sweetener in the foreseeable future. Both players instead claimed that flavour remained the most important factor and that they were unwilling to compromise on that. The two leading companies, however, catered to the health and wellness trend in one aspect, namely by offering different pack sizes. Norwegian consumers appreciated what they referred to as portion control, meaning that they tended to eat any chocolate purchased until it was finished. By offering different pack sizes, consumers were able to purchase the amount of chocolate they felt comfortable consuming. In addition, while the health and wellness trend was not particularly apparent in chocolate confectionery, the importance of sustainability, fair trade and sourcing became a key differencing factor. For example, Orkla and Nidar only purchased cacao with the UTZ Certified label. Similarly, Mondelez exclusively used Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa and introduced its own Cocoa Life programme in 2012, intended to improve the working and living conditions of cocoa farmers and to prevent child labour.
The competitive landscape within chocolate confectionery remained highly consolidated in 2015, with two players accounting for a combined retail value sales share of 70%. Mondelez Norge, with its highly popular and well-known Freia brand, was the driving force for chocolate confectionery throughout the review period and accounted for a retail value sales share of 49% in 2015. The other driving force within chocolate confectionery was Orkla Confectionery & Snacks Norge, OLW. The company, which is a subsidiary of the Norwegian conglomerate Orkla Group, accounted for a retail value sales share of 21% in 2015. This was mainly attributable to the acquisition of the Norwegian confectionery specialist Nidar AS in 2013, as prior to that Orkla only accounted for a limited retail value sales share of 1%.
In terms of company strategies that proved successful over the review period, and which are likely to continue to be adopted going forward, brand extensions saw rising popularity and generated significant exposure, as merging two well-known confectionery brands proved successful in generating significant novelty value. This strategy is likely to continue boosting sales over the forecast period. Manufacturers will also continue to emphasise new product development, particularly in terms of introducing new flavour ranges for existing brands.
The main trend from 2014, namely negative media attention highlighting the damaging health effects of consuming gum, continued in 2015. The Consumer Council of Norway (Forbrukerrådet) conducted an examination of 68 gum variants in March 2014 for the possibly health-damaging, endocrine-disrupting chemical butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). Over half of the gum variants examined, which included the majority of the leading brands, were proved to contain BHA, resulting in the Consumer Council advising against the consumption of these products. In particular, children, who tend to be more affected by endocrine-disrupting materials, as they have more sensitive hormone systems, were highly recommended not to consume any of the brands or variants containing BHA. The Consumer Council furthermore stated that hormone disrupters, such as BHA, can lead to decreased fertility, cancer and type two diabetes. Norwegian consumers exhibited an increased interest in food ingredients and quality over the review period, with negative findings from respected organisations tending to notably affect the packaged food in question. While the study conducted by Forbrukerrådet did not investigate to what extent the gum variants contained BHA, the findings that some products contained BHA were harmful enough to contribute to a declining volume development. Another study from Tel Aviv University, emphasised in the media, examined how teenagers suffering from migraine headaches were affected by abstaining from chewing gum. The study concluded that 26 out of the 30 teenagers included in the trial felt alleviating effects, whilst for 19 individuals the headache or pain disappeared completely when they stopped chewing gum on a regular basis.
Wrigley Scandinavia, a subsidiary of the multinational Mars Inc, continued to dominate gum in Norway in 2015, accounting for a retail value sales share of 65%. The company’s share remained comparatively stable throughout the second part of the review period. The company's commanding position was attributable to high consumer loyalty for its sugar-free chewing gum brand Extra, which accounted for a retail value sales share of 59% in 2015. The company stated that the allegiance of Norwegian consumers to the Extra brand is unique. The company previously introduced competing brands, including Orbit and Airwaves, without success, as consumers tended to return to Extra. The best-selling variety, Extra White, was sold in bulk packaging, including a bottle with 60 pellet pieces, 10-pellet packs and 5-stick packs, in flavours such as eucalyptus, fruit, salty liquorice, spearmint, strong menthol and sweet mint. Extra divided it products into four segments: Extra (six flavours), Extra White (four flavours), Extra Professional (three flavours) and Extra Sticks (two flavours).
Gum will continue to struggle over the forecast period, as a result of the unhealthy perception caused by the media in 2014, along with rising competition from substitute categories, mainly medicated confectionery. Nonetheless, consumers will continue to purchase gum, in order to maintain their oral health. Therefore, any notable decline in either retail volume or value sales is considered unlikely.
Active marketing efforts and continuous new product launches remained critical success factors for players, and furthered retail value sales growth in sugar confectionery in Norway in 2015. Norwegians appreciated the opportunity to experience new products, which saw brand extensions, new flavour combinations, and variants of existing brands gaining popularity. Sugar confectionery remained somewhat of a two-faceted category, consisting of two separate segments, both important for the major players to target. On one side you had products acceptable for daily consumption, such as pastilles, mints and medicated confectionery, many of which were available in sugar-free varieties, and often incorporated other health and wellness attributes, such as soothing a sore throat or inhibiting a cough. This segment mainly competed with gum. The second segment was comprised of indulgence products, mainly suited for relaxing evenings at home, watching films or simply just as a tasty treat. This segment was predominantly sugarised and included such products as liquorice, chews and gums, toffee, caramels and boiled sweets. Here the competition was more diverse, coming from chocolate confectionery, sweet biscuits and, most importantly, sweet and savoury snacks.
The competitive landscape within sugar confectionery remained comparatively consolidated in 2015, with the four leading players holding a combined retail value sales share of 68%. Cloetta Norge AS, a subsidiary of the Swedish company Cloetta, continued as the leading player in 2015, with a retail value sales share of 23%. The company’s position was predominantly attributable to its ongoing leadership of the two largest sugar confectionery categories, pastilles, gums, jellies and chews, and medicated confectionery. Cloetta Norge was established in 2012 following the acquisition of Leaf International by Cloetta. Leaf International had a well-established subsidiary in Norway called Leaf Norge, which successfully marketed strong brands, including the Läkerol and Malaco ranges. Cloetta Norge took over the marketing of both Leaf's and Cloetta’s brands, the latter of which were previously distributed by Galleberg. Cloetta Norge AS saw continued sound development in 2015, achieving retail value sales growth of 3% to marginally strengthen its retail value sales share.
The overall trend within sugar confectionery is highly evident, with Norwegian consumers eating less unhealthy sugarised snacks. Total sugar consumption in Norway consistently decreased during the last decade, according to Helsedirektoratet (The Norwegian Directory of Health). Consumption decreased by 14.7kg or by 34% between 1999 and 2012, which, needless to say, was a remarkable decline. Sugar confectionery is often cited as the main, or one of the leading, sources of surplus sugar intake. The main struggle for manufacturers of sugar confectionery will be to battle its unhealthy image over the 2015-2020 forecast period, especially with respect to possible new regulations limiting the marketing of unhealthy food to children. Manufacturers are expected to make an effort to introduce healthier alternatives, not just within medicated confectionery and pastilles, but in the more indulgence-oriented categories. Norwegians will in no way stop consuming sugar confectionery, as it is considered a well-deserved indulgence, especially at the weekends, and its consumption is strongly cemented in Norwegian households. However, in order to not lose out on everyday consumption, which occurs to a lesser extent than weekend consumption, manufacturers will have to create a healthier image, in order to appeal to increasingly health-aware Norwegian consumers.
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With economic recovery far from guaranteed, are consumers cutting back on impulse and indulgence food items like confectionery?
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