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On-the-go consumers seek healthier candy options.

NEW YORK -- The consumables market continues to be recast by the demand for natural ingredients.

Even candy, long viewed as an indulgence, is reflecting changing preferences. Jelly Belly Candy Co. and Original Gourmet Food Co., for example, have launched, respectively, organic jelly beans and Sweetly Natural lollipops.

Walgreens, for its part, is introducing natural Skinnygirl candy, manufactured by Rivo USA Co. under license by reality TV star Bethenny Frankel. The products, including chocolates, gummies and mints, are packaged in 100-calorie portions. Truffles include organic coconut oil.

"Skinnygirl Candy fills a void in the sweets industry, giving candy lovers a permissible and well-deserved indulgence," said Rivo president Pieter De Haan. "It's not only portion controlled to eliminate guilt, but made using only the best premium ingredients so you can feel good about satisfying any sweet craving. "

"Consumers are interested in a wide variety of organic food products," said Rob Swaigen, vice president of global marketing at Jelly Belly. "The organic category has steadily grown for the last decade, and we are excited to meet this growing demand with organic gourmet confections and snacks."

The company's new organic jelly beans come in a 10-flavor assorted mix and five sour flavors. Jelly Belly is also rolling out organic fruit-flavored snacks. The line includes a rain forest animal design packaged in boxes with six individual serving size bags in a variety of mixes for lunch boxes, travel and individual snacking.

"Americans are striving to make better choices in purchases for their families," says Angela LeBrun, marketing and quality assurance manager at Original Gourmet. "Eliminating artificial colors and flavors in favor of more natural ingredients has been a growing trend for some time. Following that, consumers are seeking products that are 'free from' high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats and GMOs. Consumers who feel they've made a better choice are likely to have a greater sense of reward from enjoying their purchase. We've developed our product lines in appreciation of these trends, the most notable of which is the growing line of Sweetly Natural lollipops."

Asked how retailers should balance organic and nonorganic offerings in the candy and snack aisles, LeBrun says savvy retailers are already offering options to consumers around the store, and increasingly in the snack aisle,

"Consumers are time-starved," she adds. "If a decision or a purchase isn't easily made, it may never be." Shoppers must quickly know "what's in it for me." Clear, understandable messaging and packaging are critical to driving purchase.

Original Gourmet leverages digital channels in different ways, based on the platform and audience, LeBrun notes. "Facebook allows a better dialogue with consumers and information tool, while platforms like Twitter and Instagram share fandom with followers around the globe with a 'sweet spot' for Original Gourmet Lollipops."

Mars/Wrigley, meanwhile, has been conducting its first-ever joint in-store promotion for the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and through the remainder of February. With almost 80% of Americans buying food and drinks for game day, the period is the second-biggest snacking occasion behind Thanksgiving.

With Mars/Wrigley brands being strong drivers of impulse purchases--particularly when merchandised near salty, game day food items--the joint-selling program is designed to maximize snack sales. The program is supported by a series of integrated activations including joint in-store displays and consumer promotions.

The companies note that 97% of consumers who buy nonchocolate confections also buy chocolate, and 76% of consumers who buy chocolate also buy nonchocolate confections. Also, two-thirds of grocery shoppers who intend to buy just soft drinks and salty snacks end up buying confectionery. And the velocity of Mars/Wrigley products grows by 15% when they are merchandised near nonconfectionery snacks.

Chewy Candy (Nonchocolate)

TOTAL DOLLAR SALES * $476.8 mil. (+4.5%)
DRUG STORES $82.8 mil. (+4.7%)

                       Market     Dollar sales   Dollar sales
LEADING BRANDS **      share         (000)         % change

Private Label          12.4%        $10,286          -9.9%
Skittles                7.8%          6,295          -7.8%
Starburst               5.8%          4,819          -4.7%
Sour Patch Kids         4.9%          4,089         +18.2%
Swedish Fish            4.3%          3,578         +14.8%
Haribo Gold Bears       3.9%          3,217         +58.7%
Lifesavers Gummies      3.8%          3,145         +25.2%
Sour Patch              3.5%          2,854         +19.7%
Reese's Pieces          2.7%          2,205         +10.3%
Airheads                2.6%          2,149         +42.8%

TOTAL UNIT SALES * 268.8 mil. (+1.9%)
DRUG STORES 52.7 mil. (+0.1%)

                     Avg. price    Unit sales     Unit sales
LEADING BRANDS **     per unit       (000)         % change

Private Label          $1.35         7,634          -25.2%
Skittles                1.46         4,320          -14.9%
L. Frances              0.33         2,968          -12.4%
Starburst               1.81         2,663           -1.7%
Sour Patch Kids         1.76         2,326          +23.6%
Swedish Fish            1.83         1,955          +21.7%
Haribo Gold Bears       1.78         1,809          +35.0%
Lifesavers Gummies      2.01         1,565          +17.6%
Sour Patch              1.89         1,513          +26.9%
Airheads                1.47         1,463          +37.7%

* Total of drug stores, supermarkets, discount stores, military
commissaries and selected club and dollar stores.

** In drug stores only.

Source: IRI For the 12 weeks ended November 29, 2015.
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Feb 8, 2016
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