Candy and confectionery products depend on eye appeal to an unusual degree, due to their status as impulse items and as products often marketed to children. At the same time, candy is subject to supply price pressure for sugar, cocoa and other ingredients, as well as flexible film. Converting techniques that maintain graphic appeal while cutting costs, such as alternatives to reverse-print lamination, will continue to grow in importance.

The $23 billion acquisition of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. by Mars Inc. promises to alter the industry landscape. Wrigley has used packaging effectively through innovative sizes and shapes and imaginative use of rigid packaging. The merger gives Mars the potential for packaging synergy between Wrigley’s gums and mints and its own brands, both chocolate and non-chocolate. If that happens, other industry players will be forced to innovate to keep up.

1. Nestlé SA

Nestlé has made sustainability a packaging priority for years now, and candy is no exception. The company used candy’s appeal to children as a platform for education with chocolate Easter egg packaging that had step-by-step recycling instructions on the back. Nestlé used Plantic cornstarch-based plastic for an award-winning tray for its Dairy Box chocolate tray, distributed in Australia.

2. Mars Inc.

Mars’ ownership of iconic candy brands puts unique demands on its packaging. Many of Mars’ new products are line extensions, such as new M&M Premiums, a large-size, “upscale” version of M&Ms in exotic flavors like raspberry almond; packaging has to both acknowledge the source brand and establish points of difference.

3. Cadbury plc

Cadbury’s recent spinoff of its beverage operations leaves it free to concentrate on candy. Its packaging will have to support two key goals of the new candy-only operation: expanded offerings of premium products like Green & Black’s, and increased local operations through acquisitions in countries like Turkey and Romania.