The company based in Rio Claro, Brazil, recently launched a range of natural flavors for its best selling product, Freegells cough sweets, made with real fruit juice and has started to use gelatin as well as starch in its bubble gum.
Faux tattoos for children
The Freegells brand has seen much success with its children’s products, including licensees with Barbie, Angry Birds, Shrek and Hello Kitty, and now Ice Age, and now wants to capture the health conscious younger consumer.
Romualdo da Silva, international business director, Riclan, told ConfectioneryNews, the firm launched its first chewing gum in 2014 after three years of development, to target the adult market but now it is trying to do a sugar free range for kids.
“We were the first company in Brazil to put stickers and cartoons on our products to appeal to children and coloring in sweets to temporarily change the color of your tongue for a fun novelty. We also developed our machines to produce a Club Mix fake tattoo for consumers on the inner wrapper of a sweet,” he said.
“We are the first company to produce this kind of thing, the machines are very fast and it’s difficult for rival companies to emulate this cut on the inside of a wrapper. Added-value packaging helps us to sell the product.”
Da Silva, who is also VP of ABICAB (Brazilian Cocoa, Chocolate, Peanut & Candies Manufacturers Association) is promoting the Brazil Sweets & Snacks Market, in partnership with ApexBrasil this month.
He added Riclan, was recently awarded BRC (British Retail Consortium) status and as a result is looking to partner with chains such as Starbucks to promote its Coffee Pocket on-the-go coffee flavored candy range.
The company’s three biggest export markets are the US, Paraguay and Argentina.
“We are starting to develop more of our TNT brand sour lines because of its popularity. Brazil is second to the US for this, we see many people in Brazil influenced by consumer tastes in the US. Americans love our sour sweets,” added da Silva.
“We are always looking for new trends, for example with the My Toffee line we just did a strawberry filling, now passion fruit and Greek Yoghurt filling. Other flavors such as pink lemonade and berries also tend to be popular in the US,”
Luis Fiorio, sales manager, Riclan, said the company has now finished shipping orders for Halloween in October, which is the busiest time of year for the firm.
Talking about its best selling product, Freegell, he said it has more than 20 flavors including menthol, mint, orange, and 3-in-1, but its most popular is extra strong menthol mint, followed by eucalyptus.
“The last flavor we launched was peach and then mango this year. It’s a new concept for us as the products are made with natural fruit juice,” he said.
Da Silva added in terms of volume it wants to capture consumers looking for healthy alternatives. He said products in the US and Europe will be ‘punished’ for having artificial ingredients in the future that’s why it decided to launch its natural range now before other manufacturers follow suit.
“We launched Freegells naturals made with natural ingredients to hit the health conscious consumer market. It contains fruit flavors and menthol, with minimalist packaging to resemble the idea that it’s ‘clean’ and healthy. The consumer today wants something that has a benefit,” he said.
Alongside its licenses with Teletubbies, Hannah Montana, Shrek, Toy Story, Hot Wheels, Angry Birds, and Buzzy Woody, Fiorio said the firm wants to develop more lines based alongside those themes and is looking for opportunities. It currently buys licenses via its partnership with toy maker Mattel's representative in Brazil.
He said the internet is a "good supplier of trends" and said the firm is able to promote its products on social channels such as YouTube, to reach a wider audience and because ‘children follow the internet a lot more nowadays’.
Due to its expanding portfolio, Riclan outgrew its 20,000 m2 premises in the town center and opened a second 200,000 m2 factory in Rio Claro eight years ago. It has started transferring its automation lines manufactured by Bosch and Mettler Toledo to the new factory with a view to transferring all its machine operations there within the next 10 years. It employs approximately 1,000 staff.
“In certain countries we sell our own brand, and in the US we do more private label because it’s difficult to sell our own private label brand. If consumers aren’t familiar with our product they won’t buy it.
“Our bumper Halloween mixed candy packs our the biggest orders we receive each year for supermarkets such as Walmart in the US and we recently launched private label Propolgea Miel cough sweets for GEA in Chile,” added da Silva.
“In the future we want to focus more on sustainability and the goal is to invest in solar panels to take advantage of the climate here and to become more economical. Our biggest challenge now is the rising cost of raw sugar prices.”