Sweets & Snacks Expo 2017

Mars-Wrigley taps sweet heat trend for Skittles and Starburst

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

 Spicy-flavored Skittles and Extra  chewy mints will be both available by December 2017.
Spicy-flavored Skittles and Extra chewy mints will be both available by December 2017.

Related tags: Wm. wrigley jr. company, Confectionery, Mars incorporated, Us

Mars-Wrigley has introduced spicy versions of Skittles and Starburst, while bringing its Extra gum brand into the chewy mints category.

At the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, the company also showcased M&M’s in standout pouches.

‘Spicy’ is mainstream in US confectionery

Mars developed sweet heat-flavored Starburst and Skittles to capitalize on a mainstream trend for spicy flavors.


The spicy-flavored confectionery category has grown over 15% from 2015 to 2016 in the US, according to Nielsen data that includes all outlets for the latest 52 weeks ending Jan 16, 2016.

The Skittles and Starburst products are each between 200 and 250 calories per pack.

Eventually, these products will be less than 200 calories as Mars - along with Ferrero, Nestlé, Lindt, and Ferrara Candy - has set a five-year goal for half of individually wrapped products to be 200 calories or less.

Innovation built upon Extra’s heritage

Michelle Green, marketing communications manager at Wrigley US, told ConfectioneryNews: “[Wrigley] is looking on par with the category in gum, exceeding on fruity confections with three times the category growth rate right now​.”

She said Wrigley has seen a lot of growth in mints lately, which led it to expand its Extra brand beyond pressed mints and into chewy mints.

 “Our mint business, including Life Savers, has gained new points of distribution over the past year… With our Extra brand, that’s our intentional decision to bring that fastest growing brand in gum, and bring in this new chewy mint,”​ Green said.Wrigley also introduced Juicy Fruit Mixies Gum at the Expo. The brand contains four fruity flavors in one pack: Original, strawberry, watermelon and grape.

Mars highlighted a Nielsen report that suggests in-pack variety of four flavors can result in up to 55% increased sales.

All new products will be available across the US by December 2017.

Standup pouches for portion and shareability

Mars has also invested in new equipment and developed resealable standup pouches for M&M’s, Twix and Snickers among other brands.

Jim Dodge, director of convenience at Mars North America, said the confections aisle has traditionally been the most difficult aisle to shop for the company’s retail partners, because M&M’s is packed in a laydown bag, which is difficult for consumers to see flavors, ounces and the branding.

The packaging, which Mars started shipping across the US at the end of Q1 2017, allows portion control and shareability, Dodge said.

Other products, including Dove and individually wrapped Minis will also adopt standup pouches in the near future. 

Standup Mars

The company’s M&M’s caramel chocolate candies won the Most Innovative Product Award in the chocolate category at the show. 

Runners up in the category were Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups, Oreo chocolate candy bar, Kinder Joy, and Edward Marc Chocolatier almonds with dark chocolate.

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