Candy for Contemporary Consumers

by Renee Covino and Mary Ellen Kuhn
ECRM Sets Event Date; Announces New Hire
Cleveland-based ECRM has announced that more than 60 retailers and 60 manufacturers are expected to attend the 2005 Efficient Program Planning Session event scheduled for Jan. 17-20, 2005, at the Westin La Cantera in San Antonio, Texas. The focus of the planning sessions will be on basic and seasonal candy with an emphasis on Christmas and Halloween 2005.
In other news, ECRM announced that Tom Smith, a former executive at Ahold USA, has joined the company as executive vice president. Smith’s background at Ahold USA includes various positions over the course of the past 10 years, most recently in a senior level role managing Ahold’s corporate brand program.
Smith began his career more than 20 years ago and has worked for companies including Piggly Wiggly, Warehouse Grocery, Albertsons, Super Valu, Cub Foods and BI-LO prior to moving to the Ahold corporate post.
More than 19,000 members of the confectionery industry crowded the aisles at the 2004 All Candy Expo, and it’s likely that all have a different perspective on what constitutes this year’s newest news and hottest trends. Here’s an overview of some of the key trends that Confectioner editors identified.
Cutting those carbs. Reducing carb consumption is America’s latest dietary obsession, and that fact is not lost on candy makers, who have responded with a myriad of new carb-reduced product options.
Hershey is all over this trend. The company’s 1 Gram Sugar Carb Bars are designed to appeal to very serious carb-cutters. For consumers interested in a more moderate carb reduction, the company offers its Carb Alternatives Line formulated with 50 percent fewer sugar carbs. The line includes Carb Alternatives versions of Hershey Kisses, Kit Kat, Hershey’s with Almond Bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Nestlé’s big move on this front is the rollout of Nestlé Crunch Sugar Free Carb Select items with 3.5 to 4 grams of impact carbs per serving. Nestlé chose Crunch from among its many brands for the carb reduction because it’s such a long-time consumer favorite, reports spokeswoman Tricia Bowles.
Gifting the one we love! For consumers seeking to reward themselves for coping with life’s daily hassles, candy can be a sweet choice. The folks at Seattle Chocolate have come up with a concept designed to fill that bill for women—the new Chick Chocolates. Packaging is fun, colorful and slightly edgy. Because they’re opening a box to get to the product, women are interacting with the candy as if it is a gift, explains Seattle/Chick Chocolates CEO Jean Thompson.
The fortification factor. Candy makers are serving up a variety of new offerings with something extra added. Chupa Chups is introducing lollipops sure to appeal to parents and kids. They’re fruit-flavored and fortified with Vitamin C.
Chargers Candy from Melate Inc. combines a chocolate coating with espresso beans. It’s a sweet way to deliver a healthy dose of caffeine.
And then there are Got Milk Wafers from Sherwood Brands. They’re calcium-fortified wafers in chocolate and vanilla flavors pumped up with added iron and vitamins A, C, D and E.
Forget that cup of coffee for energy—Vroom Foods, Inc. has more portable options in its Buzz Bites Chocolate Chew and Foosh Energy Mint. One mint or chew has the energy equivalent of a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine (100 mg.) plus 5 B Vitamins, ginseng and taurine. “They are perfect for people with a fast-paced lifestyle as they are portable, affordable and a powerful alternative to energy drinks or coffee,” says Jason Kensey, president.
More licenses to love. Licensed candy has an energy all its own. The competition has heated up for manufacturers who are eager to power up their lines. “We have to push for hot licenses and get them first,” says Dave Jupp, director of packaging and design for Imaginings 3. The novelty candy manufacturer has added Spiderman, Kim Possible, The Incredibles and Lil’ Bratz to many of its popular candy “art” forms such as TV Dispenser, Push Puppet, Pocket Slider, Sticker Dispenser, Pocket Pop and Pop Flipper.
Meanwhile, seasonal candy player, R.M. Palmer Company has gone the opposite route—introducing Marvel Super Heroes Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk licenses into an everyday chocolate line, as well as in its seasonal lines such as Valentine’s.
A quick trip to the tropics. New tropical and exotic fruit candy flavors seem to play on the fact that consumers of all ages are using confectionery treats as a mini-escape. Cadbury Adams has introduced Trident Tropical Twist sugarless gum, as well as Dentyne Tango. “Fruit-flavored gum is the second biggest flavor segment in the category, and we want to provide consumers with a fresh, new fruit flavor that really lasts,” says Richard Yoder, senior brand manager for Trident. Nestlé’s Wonka brand has added a new limited edition tropical flavor to its Nerds Rope line.

The June issue of Confectioner listed Asher Candy Co. as the maker of Asher’s Grab ‘n Go line and an affiliate of Sherwood Brands, Souderton, Pa., which is incorrect. Asher’s Chocolates, Souderton, Pa., makes the Grab ‘n Go line, has been has been manufacturing chocolate confections since 1892 and remains a family owned and operated company.
Sherwood Brands Acquisitions merged with Asher Candy Acquisition Corp., of New Hyde Park, N.Y., in 2002, and has since renamed it Asher Candy Inc. Confectioner regrets the error.