Functionality comes in many shapes and sizes. Whether it’s found in a gummy bear or jelly ring, manufacturers are creatively moving the category forward.

Juiced up

What is it about gummies and jellies that draws in both children and adults? Is it their fruity or sour flavors? Their shapes? Their texture? How about all of the above.  And adding functionality and innovation to the category doesn’t hurt.

The consistency of a confection is a large part of what defines it. For example, gummies are known for their firm and elastic texture, while jelly candies typically exhibit a softer consistency. Although the candy’s appearance and flavor may get the consumer’s attention, it’s the candy’s texture that usually determines if the consumer enjoys the piece and will purchase it again, says Firth K. Whitehouse, PhD, Cargill Inc., in her article “Texture Measurement in Confections.” But once the consumer has made up his or her mind, he or she has quite a few options available.

Getting real

Gummy and jelly manufacturers today are giving consumers choices in the form of flavors, shapes, packaging and health benefits. To give their products a “better-for-you” appeal, many manufacturers are using real fruit juice in their products.

“[Almost] every company is looking to make substitutions that are going to bolster their nutrition profile,” says Krista Faron, senior analyst at Chicago-based market research company Mintel International. “In the case of confections, I think juice is one of the most impactful ways to do that.”

Jelly Belly Candy Co., for instance, has infused juices and purees into about 25 of its current Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors to keep its ingredients as real as possible. Its blueberry- and peach-flavored jelly beans are made with their respective purees, while the newJelly Belly Sunkist Citrus Mix features orange, tangerine and pink grapefruit juices and lemon and lime purees. The company’s Sunkist Fruit Slices contain natural flavors and are cholesterol-, preservative-, gelatine-, gluten- and dairy-free. Similarly, Sunkist Fruit Gems are certified kosher, gelatine-, gluten- and dairy-free.

“Every product we make, we’re trying to put more and more real ingredients in it,” says John Pola, v.p. – specialty sales, Jelly Belly. “We think that’s going to be the secret to success as the years go on.”

And as one of the first American manufacturers to make gummies in the United States (then called the Herman Goelitz Candy Co.), it’s no surprise that Jelly Belly continues to offer a wide array of gummy and jelly confections.

In addition to the company’s vast selection of Jelly Belly jelly beans, it also offersConfections from the Makers of Jelly Bellygummy bears, sour worms, and even novelty gummies like Pet Rats, Crocodiles and Tarantulas, amongst other gummy and jelly treats.

While still in the process of developing “better-for-you” items, Haribo of America, Inc. currently offers its signature Gold-Bears gummies, along with Happy Cola, Frogs, Raspberries and other gummy products. The company’s line consists of 20 hanging bag items and 23 bulk items.

Bursting with innovation

A trend that seems to be migrating to the United States from Asia, Latin America and Mexico is liquid-filled confections, says Mintel’s Faron. Farley’s and Sathers Candy Co., which manufactures and distributes theTrolli brand in North America, introduced its newest liquid-filled gummy in November 2008.Trolli Brain Surge features a brain-shaped gummy filled with a sour liquid. It is available in flavors Blue Raspberry with Surgin’ Sour Cherry liquid, Strawberry with Surgin’ Sour Watermelon liquid and Pineapple with Surgin’ Sour Apple liquid. The company also offersTrolli Cherry Bombers with a sour cherry liquid filling.

Mederer Corp., which sellsTrolli gummy candies worldwide (excluding North America), also rolled out new liquid-filled gummies, includingTrolli Citrus Pur andTrolli Beeren Traum. Each item contains 25% fruit juice in the filling. Additionally, the company introducedTrolli Cherry and Chilli gummies, which combine the taste of red hot chilli and fresh cherries.

Portion patrol

Under the same “better-for-you” halo as the real fruit juice trend, many consumers are looking for portion control. To provide them with a solution, manufacturers are offering on-the-go, single-serve packaging for their gummy and jelly products.

Last month, Wrigley’sLife SaversGummies brand introduced a single serve 2-oz. pouch package in 5 Flavor, Sours, Wild Berries and Tangy Fruits varieties.

“The new pouch includes 33% more product per pouch compared to the current 13-piece roll and marks the first timeLife Savers Gummies Sours are available in a single-serving package,” says Jennifer Luth, manager, marketing communications, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

Additionally, the company launchedLife SaversGummies Island Fruits in December 2008, featuring flavors Strawberry Kiwi, Pineapple, Mango Melon and Fruit Punch.

Mixing and matching

Combining the portion control and liquid centers trends, Cadbury launched liquid-filledSour Patch Xploderzand 100-calorie packs ofSour Patch KidsandSwedish Fishbrands last year. In May of this year, the company plans to launchSour Patch Chillerz, which provide a cooling component to the gummies for a multi-sensorial experience.

Encapsulating the real fruit juice, liquid centers and portion control trends, Ferrara Pan offers gummies and jellies under theFerrara PanandBlack Forest brands. TheFerrara Panbrand, for example, offers bulk jellies, such as Jelly Rings, Gum Drops and Fruit Slices. TheBlack Forest gummies brand includes bears, worms, tarantulas, mellos and other gummy shapes.

The company’s newest line extension under theBlack Forest brand name is calledJuicy Oozers. It combines the popularity of sour-sanded gummies with a juicy liquid-filled center. The latest additions to theJuicy Oozersline areJuicy OozersSour Gummy Fun Bugs andJuicy OozersSour Gummy Fun Fish. Both products, launched in February 2009, come in four different shapes and flavors. They join a line-up ofJuicy OozersCherry and Sour Sanded Sharks and Fun Bugs.

“We’ve hadJuicy Oozers type products before,” explains Zel Peterson, marketing manager, Ferrara Pan. “We used to just call them liquid-filled, but we’re really branding them to beJuicy Oozersas part of a line extension forBlack Forest.”

Moreover, the entireBlack Forestline got a new look in February, featuring “a bigger and brighter logo to enhance the billboard effect on the shelf [and] a larger window to showcase the product,” Peterson says. The packaging also calls out the “good-for-you” ingredients in the product, like real fruit juice and vitamin C content, which are present in allBlack Forest gummies.

Ferrara Pan’sBlack Forest brand also offers consumers a portion control option with its 1.5-oz. bags. For those looking for value, the company introduced three new gusset bags for its three most popular items – Black Forest worms, bears and glow worms.

Following the introduction of Mars’Starburst GummiburstsLiquid Filled Gummies in spring 2008, the company launchedStarburst Sour Gummibursts. Launched in January 2009,Starburst Sour Gummiburstscome in flavors Green Apple, Orange Tangerine, Strawberry and Watermelon.  

OriginalStarburst Gummiburstsfeature real fruit juice and come in flavors Cherry, Lemon, Orange and Strawberry. Like the more recently introducedStarburst Sour Gummibursts, they are available in a 1.5-oz. single serving size.

From children drawn in by the product’s shape, sour flavor and liquid centers to adults attracted to the item’s fruit juice content and single serving packaging, gummies and jellies continue to appeal to people of all ages. 

*For more information about packaging of gummies and jellies, go towww.candyindustry.comand click onCandy Industry Plus.