“Wafer is our DNA” since the company started as a small bakery in northeastern Italy in 1925, said VP of marketing and US deputy to Loacker’s president, Crystal Black Davis.
Loacker currently manufactures chocolate enrobed wafer cookies, classic wafers, and a line of wafer chocolate bars that was launched at ISM two years ago. All these products are free from GMOs, PHO, and artificial colors and flavors.
“We also don’t have any added natural flavors,” Davis added. “All the flavors are derived from our ingredients.”
From specialty to mass
Davis noted the most recent Euromonitor report showed Loacker is not only the number one wafer cookie in Italy, but also around the globe since the brand has long been exporting its confections and has a strong foothold in Asia, Middle East and other parts of Europe.
Loacker came to the US around early 1990s, which is relatively late, she said. The brand also did not have a sale office set up in the country until 2014.
“We started with two importers who included us in the line of mainly Italian products, and through their vast network of distributors, we were able to gain some distribution in the US,” Davis said. “One of the retailers we gained a lot of traction with is Trader Joe’s, and we’re one of the few branded items in their stores.”
“Historically, we have been in the ethnic and specialty aisles because of the distributors that we have,” she added. “In the past a couple of years, we are in the mainstream, mass cookie aisle.”
“So we’re competing against mainstream guys, not just imports.”
Loacker products are currently available at Whole Foods, Target, Kroger, 7-Eleven, as well as in other c-stores chains across the country.
“We are really looking to expand to other channels like club,” Davis said. “We also expect a lot more traffic in Whole Foods because of the Amazon acquisition.”
No plan of swapping sugar with other sweeteners
Since wafer is Loacker’s core ingredient, sugar has never been a problem for the brand, Davis said.
“We use real sugar, and for the time being, I don’t foresee us to switch to any other sweeteners,” she said. “People tend to look at ingredients when they are making a decision at the cookie aisle. Typically, sugar is a clear indicator [of whether a product is healthy or not].”
Davis added Loacker is already working to update its nutrition facts label with the new added sugar section closer to the original 2018 deadline. “So we’ll be ahead of the [extended] 2020 schedule,” she said.
The US market currently represents 12% of Loacker’s global sales, and that number is expected to increase every year, Davis said.
“From 2014 to 2016, our incremental sales had increased over 60%, and our [2017 annual sales] are on target to hit 21%,” she said.