Each Match-Ems bag is filled with a mix of eight fruity flavors including orange, cherry, banana, pear, strawberry, raspberry, watermelon and green apple, according to the company. All of them can be combined to create up to 28 mixed varieties.
The product is now available in both share packs that retails for $1.99 each and eight-ounce standup bags that retails between $2.50 and $2.99 each. Both pack types can be found in mass, convenient and grocery stores across the US, said Rivera.
Advantages of 3D printing technology
Rivera told ConfectioneryNews most gummies currently available in the market are 2D, and 3D gummy balls lack interactive features.
“There is new technology that allows manufacturers to create interlocking shapes like Match-Ems – one with a ‘prong’ and the other with a ‘divot’ in it,” she said. “You can actually connect them and make your own flavor combinations.
“With 3D technology, you can also create gummies with beautiful clarity which has not been possible before in other products,” Rivera added.
But when the US candy maker first came up with the gummy shape, the idea of using a 3D mold did not exist, according to Rivera.
“We partner with a lot of inventors to solve our innovation questions and business problems. When we contemplated Match-Ems, we really didn’t know if the technology would work,” she said.
“Basically, what we did was put a call out to our network of suppliers to get an understanding of what was possible. We then invested in the process and tested it out, and we actually had to make sure one [gummy] piece interlinks to another. It took us 15 months to develop the products.
“There will be a lot more 3D products from us across the portfolio in the future,” added Rivera.
Gummy is ‘on fire’; gum has opportunities too
Bazooka was originally founded on its bubble gum business, and it expanded into the hard candy and gummy categories over the last few decades, according to Rivera. It is now the confectionery division of the Topps Company.
“I think we’ve always had a pretty balanced portfolio,” said Rivera. “From a total US non-chocolate candy standpoint, we’re seeing a double-digit CAGR growth (a little over 11%) in the last five years.
“The gummy business is on fire: we launched juicy drop gummies in 2015, and ring pop gummies chains in 2016. We’ll continue listening to our consumers and their demand for gummies,” she said.
However, the overall US gum category has had a tough time for several years in a row now, according to Nielsen’s “all outlets combined” data.
The category, which posted total dollar sales of $2.83bn for the last 52 weeks ending Dec 20, 2017, declined by 1.8% in retail value compared to a year ago, the data showed. The compounded annual growth for the last four years dropped 4.1%.
The downward trend has also affected Bazooka’s gum sales, Rivera noted.
“Yes, we’re seeing gum sales are flat that’s why we launched Bazooka sugar-free bubble gum because there is a bit of a shift [towards less sugar] in the market there,” she explained.
“We’re not moving away from gum. We’re pursuing gum in different ways to make sure we’re meeting consumer demand. Innovation will let us continue our growth trajectory,” added Rivera.