Clean label

Sugarpova gummies add natural flair in four flavors to clean-label candy brand

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

'To me, candy represents a sense of accomplishment, and so I created Sugarpova to celebrate hard work and life’s sweet moments,' said Maria Sharapova of her namesake natural candy brand.
'To me, candy represents a sense of accomplishment, and so I created Sugarpova to celebrate hard work and life’s sweet moments,' said Maria Sharapova of her namesake natural candy brand.

Related tags: Candy, Natural flavors, Natural colors, Gummies, spirulina, New product launches, Confectionery business, Clean label, healthy snacking, Organic

The tennis star Maria Sharapova teased the lip-shaped gummies at Sweets and Snacks in May, but they officially hit shelves this autumn in stand-up pouches of tangy and sour flavors.

Quirky Pink Grapefruit offers a smooth gummy colored with beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment found in bright vegetables like carrots.

Flirty Strawberry Cream (inspired by the iconic Wimbledon treat​) adds a touch of fresh cream for a soft and sweet bite. That SKU and the two sour flavors – Sassy Sour Tart Cherry and Smitten Sour Blue Raspberry – come coated in sugar crystals and target that sweet-then-sour hotspot.

The latter uses spirulina to give the blue gummies their distinct color, differentiating them from other blue raspberry-flavored candies on the market.

Sugarpova strawberries & cream gummies

“As we thought about flavor profiles, we also spent a ton of time thinking about different levels of sweetness and texture, and how we could offer Sugarpova fans something that was super unique,”​ Sharapova told ConfectioneryNews. “We decided an assortment of uncoated and sugar-coated gummies was the perfect way to do just that.”

The resulting gummies – a notoriously difficult confection to make with natural colors and ingredients – “really shows people that all-natural ingredients can still look and taste amazing,” ​she said.

“It was really important to me that we removed all artificial colors and flavorings from our gummies, while also making sure we weren’t compromising on flavor. It took us almost two years to perfect, but I’m so proud that we were able to create gummies made from the highest-quality ingredients that also tasted great, in an array of flavors we love,”​ she said.

Getting the Sugarpova taste and texture in the lines

Sugarpova packages each flavor individually ($4.99 for a 5oz bag) to highlight the ‘super unique’ elements of these all-natural, certified gluten-free and kosher gummies.

The ingredient list starts with organic cane sugar, followed by organic tapioca syrup and beef gelatin, plus a touch of citric and malic acid (found naturally in acidic fruits). Sunflower oil and carnauba wax enhance the texture and fruit juice the color. (The blue raspberry also contains rice flour.)

Notably, the deck skips high fructose corn syrup.

A 6-piece serving clocks in at an even 100 calories with 19g of sugar, plus a little boost of 2g of protein and 1mg each of potassium and calcium.

Sharapova told us at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in May that she worked very closely with the R&D team to perfect the gummy line, going “back and forth with samples – from the look and the feel of the actual gummy lip, to the texture to the way that it tastes,”​ she said.

The packaging features the brand’s signature kiss logo, adorned with a geometric pattern and earthy tones of colors that pop.

Maria Sharapova at Sweets _ Snacks Expo 13
Maria Sharapova at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, May 2019

I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen always looking for that little snack at the end of a hardworking day, and I wanted to bring that element to other people. I think rewarding yourself in something that you can feel good about with a snack – with a candy, with a chocolate – is not just…there’s a story to it, and that’s been my childhood dream to have something like this.

If you really believe in what you’ve created or your idea, there’s going to be so many people that might not – and just because they don’t doesn’t mean you won’t be successful. So no matter how many people tell you it’s not going to work out – of course, you have to be realistic – but you really have to go for it.

Be hands-on with everything, no matter what the task is. It’s your baby: you should be involved every step of the way.

– Maria Sharapova on following through

Building a natural candy brand as an athlete

Sharapova launched the Sugarpova candy brand in 2013 as an answer to her personal sweet tooth.

“For pretty much my entire life, I’ve had a major ​[sic] sweet tooth and growing up, I used to reward myself with a candy bar or something sweet to celebrate the end of a tough practice or workout,” ​she told us.

“To me, candy represents a sense of accomplishment, and so I created Sugarpova to celebrate hard work and life’s sweet moments.”

190409_SUGARPOVAGUMMIES_9071OPB

The tagline ‘Moderation in Moderation’ echoes that sentiment.

The tennis champion started with ‘classic candies’ like gummies, sours and gumballs in the shape of bears, lips, high heels and, of course, tennis balls. The brand extended into chocolate bars in flavors ranging from Dark Chocolate with Orange or Coconut to Milk Chocolate Strawberry and White Chocolate with Cookies and Cream. A range of truffles features Milk Chocolate with Rum Cherry or Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Caramel or Mocha, and a White Chocolate Strawberries & Cream; a few flavors are aptly packed in clear tennis cans​.

These candies also satisfy demand for clean-label confections. The truffles boast five-ingredient chocolate made with vanilla beans, plus organic coconut oil and coffee extract in the case of the Café Mocha variety. The white chocolate truffles are made with cocoa butter and full cream milk. Even the inclusions are natural: in Cookies & Cream​, the cookie crumbs contain a base of unbleached wheat flour, sugar and cocoa sweetened with honey.

“Every little detail is important,” ​she added at Sweets & Snacks. “When you’re creating a company and you’re new in the business, it’s very important to have a hands-on approach with what you do.”

Sugarpova candies are sold online and at retailers like 7-Eleven, Hudson News travel shops, and IT’SUGAR.

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