GLOBAL ECONOMY

Mexican candy gaining sweet ground in trick-or-treating America

(Photo credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Trick-or-treaters may be as likely to say “trick or dulce” these days, now that candy originally sold in Mexico is finding a new home in America.

Consumers in the U.S. are gobbling them more than ever, reports show, with some of the largest candy brands in Mexico experiencing huge bumps in sales in the last decade.

According to data provided by the National Confectioners Association, from 2010 to 2014 the volume of Mexican candy sold increased 31 percent, and in the last year alone it jumped 5.1 percent.

Online merchants have also noticed the increase.

“We believe this is due to a wider assortment and more exciting flavors for kids than traditional candy,” said Nacho Hernandez, co-founder of Mexgrocer.com, to Fox News Latino.

“Kids want to try new things, and most Mexican candies offer just that,” he added.

His virtual store has seen a steady increase of 25 percent over the last four years, he said. The most sought-after treats? Mango and watermelon lollipops, and of course the Mexican classic Mazapan de la Rosa, a chewy candy made of crushed peanuts.

Online searches for such products are greatest in states with large Latino populations, such as Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas, according to Google data. And, as Experian Marketing Services points out, items popular in Hernandez’s store – as well as products such as Pelon Pelo Rico, Duvalin, Rockaleta and Pulparindo - have seen a nearly 40 percent increase in online searches in the last year.

“In general, all these manufacturers are getting better at distribution, putting in more product in the main demographic regions as they become more and more available at local candy shops,” Hernandez said. “It’s just booming.”

Not the case, though, for candy produced in other parts south of the border. At least not yet.

“The Mexican population is greater than [that of] the other countries,” Alexander Valencia, marketing manager for Cordialsa USA explained in Spanish. His office is the U.S. arm representing cookies and chocolates from Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru. But a Mexican candy, Nucita, is their top seller by far. “There isn’t a market for other candy yet,” he said.

Interestingly, the increase in popularity of these treats may be driven not by first-generation, but second-generation immigrants. In a study by Experian Marketing Services asking Hispanic adults whether they enjoyed traditional Hispanic foods, about 85 percent who were born in the U.S. to one foreign-born parent said they did, while 79 percent who had both U.S.-born parents agreed.

These strong preferences indicate that the population of Mexican candy consumers is growing, along with the population of U.S. born Latinos. And they are being enjoyed from Halloween through the holiday season, especially around la posada, and beyond.

“[Parents] tend to find these candies they grew up with and they say, ‘Oh, wow! These are the candies I grew up with!’ Parents buy them, the kids try them and say ‘Oh, I like them!’” Hernandez said.

Soni Sangha is a freelance writer based in New York City.

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