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April 8, 2005

EUROPE: Over 55s eat more confectionery than do children

People over 55 in Western Europe eat €6.8bn (US$8.7bn) worth of confectionery a year, €1.6bn more than children aged 14 or under, according to market analysts Datamonitor.

People over 55 in Western Europe eat €6.8bn (US$8.7bn) worth of confectionery a year, €1.6bn more than children aged 14 or under, according to market analysts Datamonitor.

According to Datamonitor’s Consumer Graphics Database, confectionery consumed by the over-55s (seniors) in Western Europe accounts for 22% of the value of the region’s €31bn confectionery market.  “The reasons are partly demographic: the number of senior consumers is on the rise, while the number of children is in decline”, said John Band, senior consumer analyst and author of the reports. “But there’s also a growing tendency to view confectionery as a premium, indulgent and adult product – moving away from traditional sweet shop favourites towards more luxurious chocolates from companies such as Green & Blacks. These appeal to more sophisticated adult tastes”.

In Germany confectionery eaten by seniors is worth €1.1bn, making up almost a quarter of the country’s total market value. In Spain, they account for 15% of the country’s market, worth €217m. British seniors consume €1bn worth of confectionery a year, making up 21% of total confectionery sales.

Throughout Western Europe, chocolate is a favourite amongst senior consumers, making up 56% of the total value of confectionery consumption. Sweets account for 36%.

“If senior consumers want to eat something indulgent, they will have some chocolate or a bag of sweets”, says Band. “They don’t like gum, because they’re more likely than other age groups to view chewing it as a vulgar and unpleasant habit.”

The research also shows that children don’t always choose the healthiest options when it comes to confectionery. For example, food manufacturers attempt to sell cereal bars as a healthier alternative to chocolate for parents to put in kids’ lunchboxes, as well as for adults to buy and eat themselves.  However, only 12% of the total amount of money spent on confectionery products consumed by children goes on cereal bars, far lower than the extent to which they spend on other confectionery products. British children eat just €22m worth of cereal bars each year, compared to €835 million worth of confectionery overall (€202m on sweets, €41m on gum, and €570m on chocolate).

“Given the chance children will consume large quantities of chocolate and sweets; clearly, most parents won’t let them do this. It seems that parents prefer to limit their children’s confectionery intake, rather than trying to buy them healthier confectionery products,” said John Band.

The research defines Western Europe as France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

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