The review period witnessed impressive changes in Romanians’ spending power, with government policies such as VAT cuts, increases in the minimum wage and growth of public sector salaries and pensions representing a boon for consumption, including of indulgence products such as chocolate confectionery. Branded products capitalised the most on this, as consumers upgraded from basic products to more sophisticate alternatives.
Tablets continued to be the largest category in chocolate confectionery in both volume and value terms in 2018. Although tablets can be considered mature, innovation in fillings, the dynamics of high cocoa content and the large number of limited editions based on exotic flavours and superfruits maintained tablets on a growth trend in 2018.
Seasonality in chocolate confectionery remains high, with sales peaking during the winter and spring holidays, and falling during the summer. With strengthening spending power this has been a boon for boxed and seasonal chocolate, traditionally positioned for gifting, despite recent developments towards mainstream consumption.
Mondelez remains the leader in chocolate confectionery and managed to increase its sales, thanks to the performance of its flagship brand Milka. Milka has enjoyed innovative new launches such as Milka Wave with Caramel Crispies and Milka Wave Biscuits in tablets and Milka Strawberry and Milka Caramel in countlines, which capitalise on the wave of premiumisation and on consumers’ willingness to try new products.
Chocolate confectionery is dominated by international companies, although some of them operate domestic production facilities. This is the case with Kandia Dulce, Heidi Chocolat and Nestlé Romania.
The top positions in chocolate confectionery have been maintained not only through extensive distribution but also through heavy advertising campaigns. Flagship brands of the international players were beneficiaries of the heaviest advertising campaigns, focused both on reminding and on supporting new launches.
After a period when gum and especially Wrigley brands were associated with a Western lifestyle, the review period saw increasing consumer interest in healthier products such as sugar-free gum, perceived as providing benefits in terms of tooth health and fresh breath. This perception was strengthened by the efforts made by the dominant Mars Romania to communicate through a heavy advertising campaign touting the health benefits of its brands.
Sugar-free gum accounts for the bulk of chewing gum sales as the result of people wanting to combine the pleasure of chewing with mouth health benefits. The availability of sugar- free gum in all the distribution channels across the country – even in the most distant localities, in different packaging types and sizes, from small packs to the bigger car jars, and its affordable selling price have also contributed decisively to the success of sugar-free chewing gum.
As result of the clear domination of gum by Mars Romania, innovation has been limited to the company’s efforts to maintain consumer interest in gum as a whole. Since Orbit Bubblemint’s launch in 2016, when it was promoted as providing excellent oral health and a unique sensation of teeth cleaning, no other significant variety has appeared in the marketplace.
Mars Romania is the undisputed leader of gum in Romania in 2018 as a result of the fact that the company Wrigley Romania, as NBO before 2017, has practically created the demand for gum amongst Romanians – and this demand remained unaltered across the whole review period. In fact, its flagship brand Orbit has become synonymous with chewing gum due to its strong penetration in all the distribution channels and in the most distant regions.
Orbit accounted for the highest share of value sales in 2018, as it did over the entire review period. Its position is the result of company’s applying a pull strategy that has created and strengthened demand for Orbit through heavy advertising campaigns focused on health benefits at hands of consumers and offered at affordable price.
Competition within gum was reduced in 2018. With the exception of Mars Romania’s brands under the Wrigley’s umbrella, private label and no-name products with doubtful origin in bubble gum account for a minor share.
The growth rates of the category in 2018 were reduced because sugar confectionery was unable to create as much demand from adults as it is has done from children. The presence of unpackaged products such as boiled sweets, mints and jellies remains high through traditional retailing.
Medicated confectionery saw the highest value growth in 2018 due to its small size and the perception of the products as convenient for breath refreshing and less as alleviation for sore throats. Its strength relies in the active presence of the Halls, Airwaves, Cipi and Vivil brands, which are accounting for the bulk of sales.
Pastilles, gums and jellies is the largest category within sugar confectionery. Beyond the fact that the category appeals mainly to children, it has also captured the attention of young adults with the brand Skittles and Tic Tac, heavily sustained by advertising campaigns.
Sugar confectionery is relatively fragmented. Beyond the best-positioned international brands, such as Haribo, Skittles and Sugus, pure domestic brands like Cipi and Happy Drops saw improved shares in 2018 through better presence on the shelves of modern retailers and attractive products in redesigned packaging and by providing more flavours to suggest a move to sophistication.
De Silva Exclusiv led in 2018, but only slightly ahead of the challengers Alka, Bomboniera and Mars Romania. De Silva Exclusiv owes its leading position to the brand Haribo, which leads the largest category pastilles, gums, jellies and chews with a wide variety of flavours and shapes for jellies, making them children’s favourites across all the distribution channels.
Private label holds a strong position in sugar confectionery given the fact that the category is not seen as too sophisticated and it is perceived more as a snack between meals and less as a dessert. Consequently, private label has been gaining a strong position because it satisfies consumer demand for affordable price and availability in the dominant modern retailing.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.