MarketResearch.com, a premier business intelligence marketplace serving the Fortune 1000, announced today the findings of a recent study "The U.S. Candy And Gum Market," by Kalorama Information. According to the study, projected retail sales of candy and gum will grow at a rate of 4.6-4.8% annually, reaching $27 billion by 2004. In 1999, chocolate accounted for nearly 55% of retail candy sales -- up one point in share since 1995. For this same time frame, non-chocolate candies have risen more than one share point to 36%, while gum fell almost three share points to 9%.Candy has long been viewed as "junk food" which also promotes tooth decay. Marketers are looking at various ways to overcome that perception. "Consumers are being educated through individual marketers working to improve candy's health image," said Claire Madden, VP Marketing at MarketResearch.com. "For example, some manufacturers claim that Tannins found in chocolate may actually help prevent tooth decay and the principal saturated fat found in chocolate may reduce triglycerides, a predecessor to bad cholesterol."Changes in consumer lifestyles have affected eating patterns. Time constraints are forcing consumers to choose foods requiring little or no preparation time. Eating three square meals a day has gone by the wayside and eating smaller meals and snacking has become the norm. As this informal approach to eating continues, smart marketers will look at new and innovative ways to market their product. Candies low in fat and fortified with added ingredients may enhance sales as baby boomers mature and focus more on health matters.