Sweet and healthy? Discover the top five functional foods in confectionery

Indulgence will always be a top priority for candy consumers. But many are also looking for functional ingredients that deliver health benefits as well as taste​. It’s led to a confectionery arms race with manufacturers and brands aggressively innovating through natural sugar alternative launches, authentic fruit flavours and health and wellness claims.

Here, we look at five of the leading functional food trends in confectionery in 2024.

1. Sweet protein sources

As ​2024 research​ conducted at the Institute of Food Technologists showed, protein perceptions revolve around naturalness, satiety and taste. Unsurprisingly then, producers are launching sweet treats with added protein at pace.

For example, sports nutrition brand Warrior announced it has built on its high-protein range of crunch bars with a new white chocolate blondie flavour. Each bar contains 10 grams of milk protein and is geared towards the pre- and post-workout market. But not all NPD is aimed at gym-goers. Colombian manufacturer Luker Chocolate, for instance, has launched its new protein chocolate formulated with pea protein. The indulgent 44% dark chocolate bar contains five grams of protein per 25-gram serving.

Food tech disruptor Oobli has also released a range of chocolate bars​ with sweet protein designed to capture the permissible indulgence trend in the biotech business. The bars are formulated with sweet protein, chicory root and tapioca fibres using precision fermentation.

2. Jellies and gummies can convey function and fun

Texture, flavours and novel ingredients connect jelly brands to their target consumers, with brands ​opting for the sweet variety centred around fun​. Plant-based texturisers are increasingly coming onto the scene in response to health and sustainability trends. Pectin, starch and carrageenan, for example, are popular plant-based alternatives to gelatin.