Japanese snack confectionery firm Pocky introduces product locator to the US prior to Easter

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Pocky has a small market share in the US confectionery market, but it's been growing dramatically.  Photo: Pocky.
Pocky has a small market share in the US confectionery market, but it's been growing dramatically. Photo: Pocky.

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US consumers can now go to Pocky’s website and enter their zip codes or cities to find the nearest Pocky flavors. 

The product locator, designed by the chocolate covered biscuit stick maker, is also mobile friendly for on-the-go shoppers following a survey by parent company Ezaki Glico which found almost 50% of its US consumers search for its products through mobile devices.

The Japanese confectionery firm was first launched in 1922 with its fortified Glico caramel, and it released the brand Pocky Chocolate 44 years later, inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeia for the snacking sound made while eating crispy sticks.

Pocky, which was brought to the US in 2003, accounts for almost 80% of the Ezaki Glico’s overall US sales, according to the company. But in the company’s home country Japan, Ezaki Glico also manufactures ice cream and yogurt among various other packaged foods.

In addition to the original chocolate flavor, Pocky comes in strawberry, matcha, cookies and cream, chocolate banana, and almond varieties, and they are mostly available at Asian supermarkets across the US as well as mass channels, including Walmart, Target, Kroger and Publix.

In time for Easter

IRI data shows Easter contributed $3.58bn to the total US candy sales in 2015, and the holiday along with Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas accounted for nearly half of the annual US candy sales, ConfectioneryNews previously reported.

A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation indicates 89% of US consumers plan to buy candy for the holiday season and it forecasts $2.6bn will be spent on Easter candy​.

“Pocky’s popularity is growing exponentially in the United States, and many of our most passionate fans are young parents who think beyond the traditional chocolate bunny and egg filled Easter basket,”​ president of Ezaki Glico USA, Akitosh Oku, said in a statement.

“We’re happy that our new locator tool will make it easier for them to include Pocky as part of the annual Easter family tradition.”  

Pocky later pointed out its product locator does not coincide with a particular Easter product, but it is just timely for the brand to launch the web feature prior to Easter when people are searching for Easter basket candies.

Oku said the seasonal sales have been a challenge to the company and it has not been able to upscale its holiday confectionery portfolio.

However, he added Pocky did introduce a Halloween item last year, and it will continue developing new products for this year’s Halloween.

Meeting consumer demand

Even though the brand awareness of Pocky is still not very high in the US market, and Ezaki Glico’s distribution is not enough to cover every domestic channel, Oku said, the company has had a strong footprint in retail on the West Coast.

“Pocky needs to increase imports from its global suppliers to catch up with the strong consumer demand,” ​he suggested.

Pocky has grown 180% year-over-year on average in the past five years and it hopes to maintain such growth momentum in 2017.

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