Transparency and portion-control: Execs at top candy firms set 2017 expectations

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Leading candy firms share outlook and innovation plans for 2017. iStock_Ravitaliy
Leading candy firms share outlook and innovation plans for 2017. iStock_Ravitaliy

Related tags Confectionery Chocolate Us

Mars Wrigley, Ferrara, Just Born, and other top candy firms offer their business outlooks for 2017 and share details of innovation in the pipeline.

VP Strategy and Insights at Mars Chocolate North America, Matt Lloyd

The M&M’s maker expects the confectionery industry will see a push for increased transparency in 2017 because people are becoming more mindful about what they buy and consume.

“Interestingly, how they think about their diet is no longer black and white; it’s becoming more about balance and empowerment via more options and information,”​ Lloyd said.

“Consumers tell us that they consider products like M&M’S, Snickers, and Skittles a treat, and they want to know the calories that they’re consuming and they want choices in the amount of calories when treating themselves.”

“That’s why Mars was the first to put calories clearly labeled on the front of our packs, and why we’ll continue to bring more transparency,”​ he added.

Mars plans to launch caramel-filled M&Ms​ in April 2017 across the US.

190 M&M Caramel Pack[2]
Source: Mars

Senior marketing director of confections and seasonal at Wrigley, Matt Montei

Wrigley will be offering additional packaging that lends itself to portion control with Skittles and Starburst 100-calorie packs, according to the gum & candy  producer.

Matt Montei_Wrigley
Senior marketing director of confections and seasonal at Wrigley, Matt Montei

“It’s important to note many shoppers believe confectionery has a place within a balanced lifestyle. Wrigley is making sure consumers have options that meet their needs when they want a sweet treat,”​ Montei said.

“We know that consumers are often running low on gum, so we’re giving them more gum with the 35-stick Extra and five gum Mega Packs, and the new 40-ct Orbit White soft chew,”​ he added.

This summer, Juicy Fruit also is introducing a special-edition Juicy Fruit America Pop gum.

Nestlé: Focusing on healthy products

Nestlé’s spokesperson, Michael Jennings, told ConfectioneryNews that it is currently in the quiet period ahead of presenting its full-year results, and it declined to make any forward-looking statements.

CEO of financial planning company Guyasuta Investment Advisors, Henry Beukema III, said in a statement that Nestlé is looking to increase its organic growth profile while also focusing on healthier products.

“Nestlé’s reformulation or potential for a lower-impact sugar derivative could be very helpful in the long-term strategy of trying to continue to offer healthy but tasty food as well as focusing on potential areas where they could sell that to other companies for their snack and confectionery divisions,”​ he said.

President and COO of Just Born Quality Confections, David Yale

Just Born will bring several new items under its power brands, including Peeps, said the company.

David  L
President and COO of Just Born Quality Confections, David Yale

“Peeps will debut Peeps Delights flavored marshmallow chicks dipped in chocolate or flavored fudge, providing a decadent taste experience...,”​ Yale said.

“Additionally, Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales announced a promotional partnership with 2K Sports for the leading sports video game, NBA 2K17. Game themed graphics are set to hit retail shelves in March. They will offer valuable locker codes inside, to redeem within the game.”

Hershey: CEO transition

Hershey previously announced current CEO and president, John Bilbrey​, will retire on July 1, 2017. In December, the company said its current COO Michelle Buck will take on the role from Bilbrey.

The chocolate company’s spokesperson, Jennifer Sniderman, said it will be communicating more about its business expectations closer to its next earnings release.

But the firm's latest release shows Hershey has launched its Brookside brand in India for the first time, with varieties including blueberry and acai, goji and raspberry, and pomegranate.

The move comes amid substantial growth in the country's premium chocolate category, according to the release.

Chairman and managing director at Hershey India, Praveen Jakate, said: “Over the past few months, we ventured into several attractive categories like milk additives, milk shakes and chocolate spreads, through differentiated products offering delicious taste and fortification, under the Hershey’s brand.”

“We have now entered the growing premium chocolate category [with the launch of Brookside],”​ he added.

Global vice president of marketing and innovation of Bazooka Candy Brands, Anthony Trani

One of the oldest gum makers in the US, Bazooka, said the growth of the confectionery category will be driven by the companies that deliver “truly differentiated innovation”​ in 2017, as the category was relatively flat in the US last year.

Bazooka Anthony Trani
Global vice president of marketing and innovation of Bazooka Candy Brands, Anthony Trani

Bazooka’s sugarless bubble gum​ was a Most Innovative New Product award winner at the NCA's Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago last year.

“In 2017, we see the continued emergence of the Milk Chocolate & Toy Surprise category here in the US.  This beloved multi-billion segment internationally has finally begun to gain a foothold in the US market,”​ Trani said.

Bazooka will be partnering with Galerie Candy & Gifts on the 2017 national launch of the Finders Keepers brand of Milk Chocolate & Toy Surprise.

“We also believe sour will continue to be a strong driver of category growth, which was up 17% in 2016 after a strong 2015,”​ Trani added.

“We know from speaking with our consumers that they want their gum flavor to last longer. And because of Juicy Drop Gum’s unique packaging design, consumer can add as much or as little flavor extending sour gel as they want every time.”

Chief Commercial Officer of Ferrara Candy Company, Jamie Mattikow

“At Ferrara Candy Company, we see strong growth within non-chocolate confections, driven by sour and chewy segments like gummies and fruit chews,” ​Mattikow told ConfectioneryNews.

Jamie Mattikow Ferrara
Chief Commercial Officer of Ferrara Candy Company, Jamie Mattikow

“These products have great appeal among younger and multi-cultural consumers. We will continue to drive excitement and innovation within gummies and fruit chews with our Trolli and Now & Later brands.”

Ferrara will also continue tapping the growth of consumer demand for ingredient transparency with its USDA certified Black Forest Organic brand, which now includes an array of gummies, fruit chews, hard candy and licorice, Mattikow added.

CEO and founder of Project 7, Tyler Merrick

Gourmet gum brand, Project 7, introduced its latest innovation Champagne Dreams Gummies to Starbucks across the US near the end of 2016, and the new product will soon be available in Target later this month, founder Tyler Merrick said.

Project 7
CEO and founder of Project 7, Tyler Merrick

“Our goal this year is to continue to innovate and bring new and fun experiences to our end customers,”​ he said. “We also have ongoing product enhancements we are diligently working on for existing items this year that will be occurring at no additional cost to our customers.”

“If we do these things we will grow as a brand to our retail partners and hopefully as a net result: help them grow their overall business in their respective categories.”

Merrick added that the gum and mints category in 2017 will continue to see new gum forms, natural flavors in place of artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives and biodegradable.

“Biodegradable will be gum bases that use natural chicle and can biodegrade over time,”​ he said.

Co-founder and CMO of Theo Chocolate, Debra Music

Theo Chocolate believes healthy snacking is on the rise and it is expected to continue in 2017.

“Our new Theo Chocolate clusters​ are designed to offer consumers a nutrient dense chocolate snacking option, high in cocoa flavanols, fiber and iron,”​ Music told ConfectioneryNews.

Deb Music
Co-founder and CMO of Theo Chocolate, Debra Music

“We think introducing chocolate and cocoa based products that are actually good for our bodies is timely, and we’re very excited to see these products launch in early 2017.”

“Low sugar and sugar alternatives are going to gain consumer mindshare and space in their shopping carts as the nutritional guidelines change and the added sugars line is added to nutritional panels,” ​Music added.

Music, who previously warned of greenwashing​ ​in 'sustainable' chocolate, said Theo is very encouraged to see that other food manufacturers are starting to recognize the value in regenerative agriculture, which “goes beyond doing minimal harm to the environment”.

“It actually restores ecosystems and describes the way Theo has always approached our relationships with farmer partners,” ​she said.

It should be an exciting year for food innovation, and we are hopeful that things will continue to move in the direction of health for our bodies, and our planet.”

Co-founder of Torie & Howard, Torie Burke

Connecticut-based organic hard candy brand, Torie & Howard, expects to see continuous growth in sales of organic foods, Burke said.

Tories Burke
Co-founder of Torie & Howard, Torie Burke

According to the Organic Trade Association, that growth rate was 10.8% in 2015, which outpaced the 3.3% growth rate of the overall food market.

“As with the overall food market, we expect to see increasing penetration of organic products in the candy industry as more and more people seek clean ingredients, and particularly parents seeking more organic products for their children.”

So far, Torie & Howard has finished developing new packaging formats and product line extensions for 2017 and beyond, according to the company.

“We have seen a lot of early acceptance among retailers of our most recent product, a 1.27-ounce trial size bag of Chewie Fruities, which we introduced late last year,”​ Burke said.

“Torie & Howard’s year-over-year growth from 2015 to 2016 was 3.5 times, and we are expecting a powerful 2017.”

CEO of Divine Chocolate, Sophi Tranchell

A big focus for UK premium player Divine Chocolate this year will be empowering women in the cocoa supply chain, Tranchell told ConfectioneryNews.

CEO of Divine Chocolate, Sophi Tranchell

“We have an integrated campaign focusing on this in Spring, with on pack communication, PR, social media and an event to publish a report to key stakeholders,”​ she said.

“In product development, we have an exciting product partnership with Joe & Seph's gourmet popcorn lined up for Easter too.”

Similar to other chocolate makers in the industry, Tranchell said Divine is very conscious of the current lack of certainty in the political and economic environment, and how this impacts on exchange rates and commodity prices.

“We’re also looking closer at the trend towards higher cocoa content and how this relates to health - it’s a trend that helps us in our mission to buy more Fairtrade cocoa from our owners, the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo,”​ she added.

Divine is one of the few chocolate firms that are co-owned by cocoa farmers, the company said.

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