New Licorice Lickety-Split!

Lately, this top-ranking non-chocolate segment is quick to reinvent beyond the classic offerings.
The latest twist to licorice — it's not just about the twist anymore. "Licorice is very strong as a non-chocolate item; consumers are used to seeing it as part of the basic candy set," says Shane Kangas, vice president of sales and marketing for Kenny's Candy Company, based in Perham, Minn. So to get more attention, licorice candy manufacturers have made some quick changes — incorporating the latest candy (and snack) trends into these classic treats.
Hershey Foods Corporation has taken a bit of a novelty/interactive approach with its just- released Twizzlers Strawz, "a bigger and more fun way to enjoy" licorice, according to the company. As the Twizzlers Strawz name implies, the popular Twizzlers licorice candy also doubles as a straw — and is available in the No. 1 Twizzler flavor — strawberry.
The 1.6-ounce package contains two "strawz" to sip or snack on; it also features new, fun graphics, incorporating the Twizzlers logo with a "cool" strawberry character. Twizzlers Strawz are retailing between 50 to 65 cents per package — well below the dollar target in novelty/interactive candy.
On to another trend — who hasn't heard of the low-carb craze? Well, now it's even come to licorice, thanks to American Licorice Company and its sugar-free Vines. The company has had black and strawberry sugar-free Vines in the line for "years," according to Aaron Johnson, brand manager for Red Vines. "But we'll be labeling them as 'low-carb' effective in the next four weeks or so. There's obviously so much more consumer demand for low-carb products because of popular low-carb diets, but even more than that, more people are watching their carbs, even if they're not on a diet."
The company expects the trend to be so popular it will even offer a no-sugar, low-carb cherry flavor to be launched May 1.
Actually, "flavor proliferation has been big in the non-chocolate category as a whole," adds Johnson. And so starting in April, the company will be shipping Strawberry and Cherry flavors in its regular lines. Red Vines Pink Strawberry Twists and Red Vines Red Cherry Twists will be available in 5.8-ounce theater trays, one-pound laydown bags and eight-ounce hanging bags.
The company has also moved to slightly new packaging to contemporize its look. "We updated it by making the package more dynamic, more youthful in colors and design, yet the artwork very much ties to our heritage design, so that it will appeal to a broader range of consumers," explains Johnson. "We didn't want to disrupt what the consumer base expected with anything too radical, and yet we knew it needed some youthful modifications."
Also looking to appeal to both ends of the licorice consumer spectrum, Kenny's Candy has offered a wide range of flavor varieties like sour green apple and sour watermelon for kids, and cinnamon and pina colada for adults. Its recent news, however, has been in packaging — offering individually wrapped licorice items, both in its Juicy Twists and private label lines. "This really gives us a full range to talk to licorice consumers," says Kangas. "We now have the ability to offer our products in sizes to touch all customers."
With more retailers behind private label and bulk candy, Kenny's individually wrapped products are expected to ease sanitation and rotation issues. "This added variety to licorice, both in flavor and packaging, will help expand the licorice category set," adds Kangas.