Unlike M&M’s Pretzel and Crispy, which have a “crispy and hard” center, M&M’s Caramel features a “creamy caramel center” covered in milk chocolate, and enclosed in a candy shell, according to Mars’ product description.
However, the new product will not be available until April, 2017. M&M’s Caramel will retail for around $1.39 per 1.41-ounce single bag and $1.99 per 2.83-ounce share size.
The announcement came shortly after Mars decided to merge its chocolate and Wrigley segments to create a new division based in Chicago, called “Mars Wrigley Confectionery,” ConfectioneryNews previously reported.
Largest investment in M&M’s new product launch?
Mars claimed that M&M’s Caramel is the biggest investment the brand has ever made in a new product launch.
“Caramel is the fastest growing flavor segment in food, and the fourth largest flavor segment within the overall chocolate category,” Mars’ spokesperson, Ampy Vasquez, told ConfectioneryNews.
According to the latest Nielsen data, caramel grows at 15% in 2015, and is a $2.2bn flavor segment within confectionery.
In addition, a team of engineers spent years developing the “proprietary” technology to inject caramel into M&M’s candy shells, and prevent it from being easily smushed, according to an earlier CNN report. Mars also plans to hire 70 employees to produce the new product.
Growing faster than the chocolate candy category
Vasquez added that M&M's is the number one chocolate brand in the category, and is growing faster than the category average.
But according to IRI data for the past 52 weeks ending on October 2nd, 2016, the $457.8m M&M's brand ranks number two in dollar sales behind Hershey’s Reese's.
IRI data shows that chocolate candy box/bag/bag category under 3.5 ounces is worth around $4bn, with dollar sales up 2.8% year-over-year. M&M’s dollar sales grow at 3.37% on average per year.
During the NACS show, Mars also introduced a new Snickers and Hazelnut bar, and three new flavors of Goodnessknows. Both products will be available in c-stores across the US in January, 2017.