Mars Wrigley Confectionery (MWC) has identified a £20m opportunity with premium gifting chocolate as it claims the format is growing at 10 times the rate of the rest of the confectionery market.

Speaking at the launch of two additions to the Maltesers range, MWC senior brand manager Laura Edwards said: “The trend has been driven by customers who don’t want to be viewed as cheapskates when giving chocolate to their friends and family as gifts.

“Customers across convenience want a product which they feel is special enough to gift. Seasonal confectionery is outperforming the rest of the market at 10 times the rate and we feel our new products can attract new customers.”

The two additions are Truffles and Buttons, which will be available to independent retailers from July. Truffles is MWC’s first premium chocolate product and the packaging has been designed to suit various special occasions, such as Mother’s Day and Christmas.

Meanwhile, Maltesers Buttons has been designed to appeal to 16 to 44-year-olds, which MWC claims will generate £34m in sales in its first year.

Both products are being backed by a combined £2.5m marketing spend online and support for retailers comes in the form of PoS displays and floor stands. Pricing for the products range from 66p for a 32g pack of Buttons to £4.99 for a 200g Truffles gift box.

MWC brand and trade manager Lauren George added: “Maltesers is set to fuel huge category growth with two new brand extensions. Retailers should be sure to stock up on these products to capitalise on the media spend and maximise sales.”

Raj Aggarwal, of Spar Hackenthorpe in Sheffield, said: “Sales of premium chocolates in my store have grown 10% annually. Customers are going to more social occasions and they’re willing to spend more on more luxurious chocolates.”