Chocolate bunny and hi-tech

The consumption of sweets at Easter could reach around 900 tonnes, predicted MÉSZ (the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers) at its spring press conference, where the results of a recent survey conducted by the Association and the TÉT Platform revealed why we choose certain sweets and how industry players respond to our sweet preferences.

The turnover of the Hungarian confectionery market is expected to be around HUF 230 billion this year, said Sándor Sánta, president of the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers, in his presentation on consumer and supplier trends. Chocolates and biscuits, and sponge cakes account for half of the market (26% and 24% respectively), with ice cream the third largest segment (at 17%). The remaining third of the market is shared in order by pralines, candy and crisps, with 12-10% market shares.

In Hungary, we consume an average of 10-11 kilograms of sweets per person per year, and chocolate accounts for about 3 kilograms in this basket. A third (33%) of the population eat sweets daily, and almost half (45%) on a weekly basis. A mere 6 percent of those surveyed said they do not eat sweets at all.

However, only a quarter of respondents (24%) shop consciously, with 28% admitting to giving in to their impulses when it comes to spending on sweets. At the same time, half of consumers (49%) look for quality, and only 14% admit to choosing based on a lower price, with more than a third (37%) alternating between these criteria.

Exactly three quarters of shoppers are looking for sugar-sweetened products, while more than half (54%) look for non-free-from products. A quarter of those surveyed choose sugar-free or sweetener-based products, while 16% and 10% choose lactose- or gluten-free products.

You can’t say we’re picky about ingredients. Only a third of respondents (34%) said they prefer products made from natural ingredients, two thirds said this was not important for them. The overwhelming majority (80%) are not influenced by the presence or absence of sustainability certificates, as consumers are often unaware of the contents of these badges.

Blonde chocolate and confectionary printing

Why do we like sweets so much? This question was offered an evolutionary explanation from the perspective of nutritional science by Emese Antal, dietician-sociologist and professional leader of the TÉT Platform Association. From the moment we are born, we identify sweetness as a source of beneficial, carbohydrate-rich energy that we can safely consume, so it is no coincidence that it accompanies us throughout our lives. Although a recent study shows that the number of people who prefer sweet tastes decreases with age and a higher level of education, it is also lower among urban populations.

The three main trends in confectionery innovation are the rise of healthy products – functional, free-from and energy-reduced – the emergence of special flavours such as blonde, or caramelised white chocolate, and the use of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing. With the conscious dieter in mind, manufacturers are also experimenting with new ways of packaging products. Bite-size sweets have been on the domestic market for a few years now, and according to the survey responses, a fifth (21%) of consumers are already looking for them in shops.

Whether the public buys in small or large packaging, Hungarian confectionery manufacturers expect a stable Easter demand again this year, just like last year, when the confectionery market found its way back to normal after the slowdown in 2020 due to the epidemic, said Sándor Sánta. Consumption volume is expected to be around 900 tonnes, and retailers are forecasting a 10% increase in the sales value compared to last spring’s festive period.

However, forecasting and planning has not been so difficult for a long time. Although the pandemic has receded, the effects of the Russian-Ukrainian war, combined with disruptions in supply chains, trade restrictions, runaway prices and inflation, combined with volatile exchange rates, are creating serious challenges for industry players, who are already gearing up for Christmas production to ensure that enough chocolate and festive candy will be on the shelves of shops and in the warehouses of online retailers from November onwards.

Summer heat: the latest trends and products in the confectionery market

Lollipops, drink powders, biscuits, pralines at the heart of innovation

Innovation did not pause in the confectionery industry during the pandemic – on the contrary, product development accelerated, it was revealed at the summer trend analysis press event of the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers. Domestic and multinational manufacturers have come up with exciting, seasonal innovations, and the transformation of trade channels and the modernization of production and logistics processes have also accelerated.

Confectionery industry is one of the most innovative sectors in the food industry, and this potential can be particularly well exploited today as it faces several challenges ranging from diverse, conflicting consumer needs to the economic consequences of the pandemic and climate change. Hungarian confectionery manufacturers are responding to these challenges with intensive innovations. To increase sustainability, they are modernizing factory cooling and heating systems, installing solar power solutions, reducing the number of materials used in packaging while striving for recyclability, reducing water use in their production processes, and promoting moderate consumption. They are also continuously developing and automating their manufacturing technology to respond quickly and flexibly to changes in consumer demands and market conditions, while expanding their offerings with whole-grain, organic, sugar-free, protein-enriched, and high-cocoa content products.

In the past, Hungarian confectionery manufacturers also reacted quickly to market changes, they also kept pace with the development of technology in the product category of summer snacks, it was revealed in the presentation of Dr Róbert Török, Director and Chief Museologist of the Hungarian Museum of Commerce and Hospitality, which hosted the press event. For example, under the name ‘cold lick’, ice cream was enjoyed by domestic consumers as early as the 18th century, and the lollipop arrived in Hungary in 1925. Just seven years after the new format was invented in America in 1908, lollipop candy was already manufactured in Pécs under the Sopianae name.

The government primarily supports modernization, automation and digitalization developments in the food industry aimed at increasing efficiency and added value through the Rural Development Program and GINOP (Economic Development and Innovation Operational Program) tenders. In the period from 2021 to 2027, a total of HUF 750 billion is available for this purpose. In the first half of this year, market participants were able to apply for a total of HUF 250 billion support for the implementation of low-value and complex food industry developments, which will be followed by repeated tenders scheduled every two years in 2023 and 2025. With the participation of industry organizations, including Hunbisco, the Ministry is working on the development of a digital food industry strategy and the update of the Hungarian Food Book, including the revision of the confectionery products directive and the regulation of handmade products.

On the consumer side, the need for lifestyle-friendly nutrition is one of the defining trends in the confectionery market, said Sándor Sánta, President of the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers. While the more informed and financially stable consumer is looking for tasty, organic, natural, protein-rich products with little or no sugar that don’t include sweeteners either, those with more limited resources expect sweets to be delicious, plentiful, and cheap, it turned out from a fresh survey (Euromonitor International, Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, 2021).

Meanwhile, the combined effect of the pandemic and climate change is also shaping the market. The production of raw materials is becoming more and more difficult, crops critical for confectionery including cocoa, coffee and vegetable oils are becoming unstoppably more expensive, and the costs are also rapidly increasing due to the lack of labor and packaging, declining transportation capacities and the enforcement of health protection measures.

Lollipops, drink powders, biscuits, pralines

With its handcrafted lollipops, Foltin & Foltin Ltd. conquered the foreign market first and then the domestic consumers as well. The company only uses natural ingredients, including the colorants, and they can stay competitive on the international market with a relatively low capital investment – said András Foltin CEO and Tamás Régi Sales Director. Founded in 1991, the manufactory now supplies 14 countries – its customers include Disneyland in Paris – and production in 2019 reached 3.78 million units. Foltin & Foltin is known for innovative solutions, for example the company logo that transfers onto the tongue from the lollipop is used by companies in Instagram campaigns. Also available in the sugar-free version, the handcrafted lollipops thus appear as souvenirs that can be flexibly adapted to individual needs: as souvenirs, they are also offered by adventure parks and sports associations.

This year’s marks the 35th anniversary of TUTTI Food Industry Ltd. and the company completed its new office building and modern, narrow aisle high warehouse in December last year, which will provide an additional 3,000 pallet capacity for storing raw materials and manufactured products over 600 square meters. Sustainability is increased with solar panels installed as part of the investment, said Ferenc Németh, the company’s Director of Sales. TUTTI’s first product, the patented ice cream powder, is now available in 46 flavors, and this palette will be expanded this year with a dragon fruit and peanut version. Also known for its Dutch cocoa powder, the company also produces private label products for chain stores, with 50 percent of its sales coming from exports. Under the BodySelect brand name the company launched a food supplement product line that is sold online. It’s multi award-winning ice coffee drink powder is now available in 3 new flavors (mocha, caramel, and coconut), a decaf and no-added-sugar version as well as a lactose-free and vegan option in five- and seven-dose compact packaging on the domestic market.

Győri Édes will be innovating this summer with free-from products, said Melinda Hadnagy, the leading brand manager of the biscuit product category of Mondelez Hungária Ltd. A no-added-sugar and a gluten-free version of the popular biscuit has been issued, the packaging of which has already been successful in communicating the innovation, and it featured well on social media during the May launch campaign, even before sales of the products began.

Merci’s fruity praline selection, which first appeared in the domestic market in 2017, returns in four delicious summer flavors: strawberry cream, lemon yoghurt, peach & passion fruit and sour cherry cream, for the fifth year in a row, said Orsolya Elek, Storck Hungária Ltd’s Marketing Manager. A brand-new product from the manufacturer is the nimm2 soft Fizzy melting candy with a fizzy filling, real fruit juice and vitamins, which is also available in four flavors. Storck’s other novelty, the nimm2 Smilegummi Funfari gummy candy is also made with real fruit juice and added vitamins and is packaged in nine colors and six flavors, evoking the atmosphere of a safari with long-necked animal figures.


Lollipop: F&F Kft, Foltin András: +36 30 475 7581

Drink powder: Tutti Kft, Németh Ferenc: +36 30 216 9460

Biscuit: Mondelez Hungária, Kertész Péter: +36 70 311 77 44

Praline: Storck Hungária, Elek Orsolya: +36 20 282 1902

Ministry of Agriculture: Strbik Dorina: +36-1-795-2137

Hunbisco: Intődy Gábor: +36 70 359 6989


About the Hungarian Association of Confectionery Manufacturers

Founded in 1992, the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers currently has

26 members and is the ambassador of the producers of quality confectionery to be

consumed with pleasure and moderation. The Association engages in dialogue with the

public and decision-makers and represents the interests of the sector in Hungary and in the

Union. Its aim is to facilitate a supportive environment promoting competitiveness for the

Hungarian confectionery market. It stands for fair taxation, correct regulation, skilled

workforce and high-quality education. 


A year of the chocolate bunny and the pandemic

Last year’s trends already indicated that 2020 would not be the best year for confectioners. Last year, Easter suffered one of the biggest declines in the domestic confectionery market, with sales of seasonal Easter confectionery products falling by 20-25 percent.

Approximately 5% of the annual chocolate consumption takes place in this season. Under normal circumstances, 900-1000 tonnes of Easter sweets, primarily chocolate bunnies and eggs, are consumed annually on the Hungarian market in the amount of about HUF 4-5 billion. During Easter in 2020, 820 tonnes of Easter confectionary was sold, in the value of approximately HUF 3 billion.

This year’s Easter coincides with the third, and thus far most dangerous wave of the pandemic affecting the most amount of people. We hope that even if the demand becomes more subdued at Easter, we will move in a positive direction from last year’s rock bottom – said Sándor Sánta, President of the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers. According to his optimistic estimate, the Easter confectionery market may grow by 3-4% this year, which means 850 tonnes of sweets, and the sales revenue may exceed HUF 3 billion.

The effects of the pandemic were felt most strongly by the smaller domestic manufacturers, who had previously managed to get their products into airports, downtown stores and exclusive cafes. While online sales have skyrocketed almost everywhere, in the case of sweets, this can’t completely replace traditional sales channels. These smaller producers in particular are eagerly awaiting an increase in the vaccination levels and the subsidence of the epidemic, so that their sales will take a powerful positive turn, Sándor Sánta said.

We compensated at Christmas

According to Alíz Némethné Szabó, Manager of the Sweets and Confectionery line at METRO last year, it was a challenge to predict the volume of sweets available for sale. Forecasts are made for the Easter season in November-December, while they are made for the Christmas season around May. Therefore, obviously, in 2019, when we could not guess that a pandemic would break out, the Easter sweets demands of 2020 were overestimated.

As a result, by Christmas, merchants already placed restrained orders, reduced by 10 to 20 percent. At METRO Kereskedelmi Kft., however, the Christmas seasonal confectionery, the chocolate Santas and Christmas candies eventually sold beyond expectations and they were able to satisfy the demand by re-ordering these products. Thus, the Easter losses in 2020 were somewhat offset by the period that followed when consumption showed a step-by-step increase. At the same time, regardless of epidemic, a longer-term trend is that fewer and fewer people celebrate in the traditional way during the Easter period, many families go on hikes, take trips, the traditional custom of spraying women with water or perfume is skipped. This brings about a slow decline in the sales volume of Easter confectionery, this is also expected for 2022.

Based on the experience of METRO Kereskedelemi Kft., customers are increasingly looking for quality sweets. They prefer more expensive or even smaller-packaged sweets rather than being satisfied with a lower quality. For example, products made of coating paste have been completely pushed out of the market. The demand for quality also encourages manufacturers to provide a quality offering. The power of this process is shown by the fact that this trend could not be reversed by the pandemic either.

Alíz Némethné Szabó hopes that come Christmas 2021 manufacturers and traders will both be able to close a traditionally good season.

We are hungry for innovation

The demand for quality is also strengthened by the continuous innovation of manufacturers. There is a growing demand for sugar-free, organic, natural or vegan snacks, and premium products are also selling increasingly better, Sándor Sánta explained.

Ingenious innovations such as the masked Santa Claus of Rimóczi Art (a family-run confectionery factory) also attracted the attention of the international press. This year, the family business came up with the bunny of hope that brought about the vaccine, and in 2021 both products won the Innovation Award of the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers.

Manufacturers have also introduced several innovations in the field of production and packaging, which make the products even more attractive.

The old often fits well with the new, because fortunately traditional sweets often meet the new expectations. There is a constant need for confectioners not only to innovate but also recall familiar or childhood flavours.

Sándor Sánta explained that the traditional Easter inspection ordered by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM) of the nearly 50 inspected products found all chocolate bunnies to be in order, and thanked the manufacturers committed to quality for this result.

Both domestically and internationally, the Association is experiencing an increase in demand for confectionery products other than chocolate, such as biscuits, wafers and fruit-rich products. This is well exemplified by the global ISM Confectionery Expo’s Innovation Awards, which were organized virtually for the first time this year. Here, fruity cereal balls and wafer snacks filled with cream cheese deserved an innovation prize in addition to a unique, natural tea-extract chocolate.