Sour makes for sweet sales as brands launch tart candies – Consumables – Brief Article

Sour makes for sweet sales as brands launch tart candies – Consumables – Brief Article – Statistical Data Included

Rob Eder

The $24.5 billion confectionery market has proven that tough times don’t stop Americans from indulging in sweet tooth satisfaction. Sales of candy and gum continue to thrive in drug stores, where sales reached almost $2.5 billion during the 52-week period ended June 15, according to data from ACNielsen. In drug stores, the bulk of the growth has come from strong gains in core categories, such as chocolate candy, which generated over $716 million on growth of 10.2 percent during that period.

Sour seems to have become the flavor of the year, based on vendor offerings at the National Confectionjers Association’s All Candy Expo in June. Among new items that now come in sour variations are Starburst from Masterfoods USA (M&M/Mars), Altoids by Kraft, PEZ Sourz candy and dispensers, Wonka Sour Pixy Stix, Rip & Roll fruit snacks from Foreign Candy Co. and even sour cotton candy by Taste of Nature.

Along with the shock taste sensation of sour, which many kids apparently love, vendors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their delivery of this type of candy, from candy foam to user-created vials of candy powder.

A merchandising display from Pucker Power that allows kids to create flavor concoctions of sour powder candy drew interest from several retailers, including WalMart. Similar to sand sculptures, the large machine that features up to 12 different flavors of candy powder allows kids to create tubes of candy art. Co-owner Bruce Goldstein said the merchandising unit, which costs a retailer $1,800, already is popular in theme parks Factory candy shops. The company now is expanding the concept to other retailers.

Along with sour candies, novelty items featuring interactive dispensers or some other type of play-time value remain popular. Ca p Candy continues as a leader in this niche, this year debuting dispensers with tie-ins to Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lilo & Stitch, Bob the Builder and Spy Kids 2. Also new is Cap’s Spy Kids lollipop, which contains “orders” inside a plastic center in the sucker that must be licked to the base to open–similar to the chocolate treat in a Tootsie Roll lollipop.

New chocolate offerings

As for the big chocolate makers, Masterfoods debuted a new combo cookie/candy product. Individually wrapped Cookies & Snickers, Milky Way or Twix began hitting retail shelves last month.

Hershey’s launched limited edition Kisses for the Christmas season in the flavors creamy, mint and dark chocolate; a limited edition of Kit Kat this summer in white chocolate or dark chocolate; and Kisses and Miniatures in patriotic red, white and blue packaging are available now.

Nestle is promoting its new International collection of chocolates in the United States, a Nestle’s Crunch bar with caramel filling and patriotic-themed packaged chocolates.

In tough economy, consumers are still sweet on candy

$ %

Drug store sales volume * change

TOTAL CANDY $2,200.6 4.9%

* Breath sweeteners 68.9 -4.4

* Chocolate candy 716.4 10.2

* Miniature chocolate candy 221.7 1.8

* Dietetic candy 57.9 46.5

* Hard rolled candy 43.3 -8.8

* Marshmallows 1.6 -21.8

* Non-chocolate candy 598.5 2.5

* Remaining candy 492.3 1.7

TOTAL GUM 268.3 5.8

* Bubble gum: regular 36.5 -5.8

* Bubble gum: sugarless 14.6 -3.0

* Chewing gum: regular 84.7 -2.2

* Chewing gum: sugarless 132.6 17.1

Source: ACNielsen Strategic Planner for the 52 weeks ended June 15

* Sales in millions

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COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group