Susan Hallak

Susan Hallak is the ceo of San Diego-based Y&M Candy Wholesale. The company has been family-owned and operated for 35 years and they serve C-stores, independent jobbers, colleges, pharamacies and more.

After attending the recent ECRM Candy Planning: Everyday & Non-Seasonal Show Sept. 14-17 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, in San Diego, Calif. she took the time to share her thoughts on front-of-label packaging, healthier candy and why it’s so hard to introduce new products.

CI:  What types of things were you looking for at this year’s ECRM show? And, which products really stood out to you and why? 

Hallak:  We were looking for companies that we could team up with to co-manufacture some products we had in mind. We also were looking for new and innovative kid novelty products to add to our product mix.

The one product that stood out to me the most was a novelty candy called KaDunks by Yolo Candy LLC.  It is a flavorful gummy with a sour dipping sauce.

CI:  What do you look for when you’re trying to find new candy? What are the most important factors for you?  Taste, price and packaging, a combination of the three, or other factors all together? And why?

Hallak:  A combination of the three for sure.

These days it is tougher and tougher to cut in new products with so many new items coming out on the market so frequently. Retailers have limited shelf space so cutting in a product means replacing another that is most likely making money for the customer. To introduce a new product it needs to be a combination of the three with an emphasis on eye-catching packaging.

CI:  What are your thoughts on front-of-pack labeling? Is that important to you and your consumers? Or do you dislike it?

Hallak:  I personally am not a fan of front-of-pack labeling.

It takes away from the look of the front of the package, which is the first thing consumers look at in deciding which product to purchase.

We as Americans are programmed to turn a package around if we want to see the nutritional information. Mentioning the product is natural or a good-for-you product on the front of the package is great for marketing the item, but the truth is we sell candy, and it is not an attractive point of purchase tool for our industry.

CI:  Is all-natural candy something that is important to you and your consumers? And, do you consider whether a candy is non-GMO, organic or sustainable? Is that something you’re finding that consumers are looking for?

Hallak:  I think there has definitely been a push for “healthier” types of candy, and we have many customers that ask for it but few actually buy.

Most consumers love the idea of being healthier, but when it comes down to it, they choose the “non-healthier” options.

I think it is a niche market and would do well in retailers that position themselves in selling more natural and healthier type products.

CI:  What do you think will be the next big candy trends?

 Hallak:  It looks like right now it is healthier and natural, more good-for-you products.