Mexico’s Sonrics Candy Has Arrived; U.S. Retailers Welcome the Line

Already a $200-million brand in Mexico, Sonrics candy now is poised to make a name for itself in the U.S. marketplace.
Sonrics representatives, including national importer Sweet Success Candy Co. of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Royal Brokerage Group, Pompano Beach, Fla., report that response from the retail community has been enthusiastic.
“We haven’t had one retailer/distributor/wholesaler say that they are not interested,” says Mitch Silverman, president of Sweet Success Candy Co.
In Mexico, Sonrics is marketed by Alegro International, a division of Mexico City-based Sabritas, which is owned by PepsiCo International. Having the marketing muscle of Pepsi behind the venture has been a major plus, Silverman reports.
“Any time retailers are looking at a new category, certainly there’s some trepidation. But if you’re going to dip your toe into the water, having the Pepsi name behind you is reassuring,” he reports.  
The Sonrics lineup includes chewing gum, bubble gum, lollipops and bagged candy mixes. Currently 15 items are being made available in the United States, but that total will soon increase to 22.
Among the leading Sonrics SKUs are Rockaleta lollipops with four chili layers built around a mango-flavored gum center; Magic Rocks, candy-coated, rock-shaped candy with a chocolate center; and Magic Boom popping candy.
Sonrics’ approach to the market is multi-faceted. Not only are a variety of branded SKUs being offered, but the company also is prepared to customize its offerings based on individual retailers’ needs.
“We’re not looking for a quick hit,” says Silverman. “We’re flexible,” he continues, “although we come in with ideas.”
How much the company delivers to its clients will depend on that client’s needs. “We can come in and say, ‘give us the opportunity to help you create an Hispanic set,’” adds Michael Czaja, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Royal Brokerage, who is in the process of setting up a nationwide sales network.  
The company also is focused on targeting different retail channels. “A supermarket is different from a drug store and a drug store is completely different from a C-store and from a mass merchandiser,” says Silverman. “Everyone has a different need.”
To date, Sonrics branded candy has been rolled out or introduced on a trial basis by a number of leading retailers and wholesalers including Costco (L.A. Division); Kroger/Food 4 Less (Chicago); and Bi-Lo, to cite just a few.
Chocolate Industry to Boost Program in West Africa
The World Cocoa Foundation announced “a new public-private partnership” involving The Hershey Co., Mars Inc., Nestle USA, Cargill, the Chocolate Manufactures Association and the National Confectioners Association, dedicated to “improving the lives of West African cocoa farming families and their communities.”
Dubbed the Initiative for African Cocoa Communities (IACC), the program will focus on enhancing education opportunities for children as well as providing teacher training to cocoa-growing regions of Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
“The future of the chocolate and cocoa industry is linked to the future of the cocoa farmer and the well-being of farming communities,” said Bill Guyton, president of the WCF. “The IACC furthers our support for the 10 million West Africans who depend upon cocoa for their livelihood.”
According to Susan Smith, senior vice president of public affairs for the NCA, the programs encompass multimillion-dollar commitments to West Africa over several years.
Sales ‘Force’ Teams Up to Offer Giant Star Wars’ Dispensers
Marty Faierstain (left, in photo) and Bill Gaussellin, founders of Northbrook, Ill.-based SportsLine Distributors, developed a line of giant limited edition Star Wars Pez dispensers to ride the wave of the just-released Star Wars Episode III movie. The 12-inch figures play music, feature memorable dialogue and, of course, dispense Pez candies.
Rick LeBlanc Named CSN Executive Director
Consolidated Sales Network (CSN) has announced the appointment of Richard LeBlanc, former president of Kahler-Senders Group Inc., as executive director.
LeBlanc has extensive experience in the consumer products industry.
CSN is an alliance of independent sales agencies with a primary focus on serving all trade classes with fast-moving consumable products.
Masterfoods to Open Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge in Chicago
Hackettstown, N.J.-based Masterfoods USA will open up a 1,100-sq.-ft. lounge in the entryway of Westfield North Bridge, a Nordstrom-anchored mall located on Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue in July. Ethel’s, which is owned by the Gourmet Chocolate Group of Masterfoods, will not only serve truffles, hot cocoa and chocolate fondue, but wine and cocktails as well. According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, the company expects to open several more lounges in the Chicago area. The reason for the move: research shows that women really want a place to enjoy chocolate in a place that allows them to sit and linger, Masterfoods says. The Gourmet Chocolate Group had already opened up a non-alcoholic chocolate lounge in Evanston, a northern suburb of Chicago.  
Brown & Haley Former President Dies
Fred Haley, the son of J.C. Haley, the co-founder of Tacoma-based Brown & Haley, passed away at the age of 92 in his home on April 6. Upon his return home after serving in the Navy during World War II, Haley took over the reins of the candy company, succeeding his father as president.
In addition to opening up international markets for the makers of the company’s signature Almond Roca candy, Haley was known for being an ardent champion of civil rights, winning the William O. Douglas award from the American Civil Liberties Union in 1985.
Haley’s son, Mark, took over as president of the company in 1984.
Ragolds to Close After Brands Sell-Off
Karlsruhe, Germany-based Ragolds revealed that it will shut down operations at the end of this year. The news follows the sale of its top cough drop brands to German confectioner Storck. Confectionery reported that Ragolds said closure was “unavoidable.”