NACS 2019

Candy gets a snack makeover at NACS

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

Hundreds of new products are launched at the NACS show every year, in part to catch retailers in time for their December resets.
Hundreds of new products are launched at the NACS show every year, in part to catch retailers in time for their December resets.

Related tags NACS convenience channel Convenience store snacking indulgent snacks Candy Oreo Gummies Rice krispies New products

Brands looking to capitalize on the ‘permissible indulgence’ trend have turned to the candy aisle for inspiration. Catch a glimpse of what we saw at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) annual show in Atlanta, October 1-4.

Rice Krispies Treats target king candy bars


For the first time, Kellogg will launch a new product exclusively in the convenience channel: Rice Krispies Dunk’d (RRP $1.99 for a 3.11oz/62g bar) takes the classic marshmallow cereal bar and enrobes it in a Cookies & Cream or Chocolate coating.

Senior commercial strategy officer Ami O’Keefe told us at NACS that the 7.5-inch bar was designed specifically to compete with king-sized candy bars. In Kellogg’s view, the product straddles that line of ‘permissible indulgence’ and offers consumers a sweet treat that is not another candy bar.

In other words, it wants to satisfy both the candy seeker and the snacker. O’Keefe said it “uniquely meets the needs of the c-store shopper.”

According to NACS data, candy accounts for 4% of c-store’s $240bn in foodservice sales​. Snacks hover around 7%. All of those numbers are ticking up as consumers look to convenience stores for more than just ‘Cokes, smokes and fuel.’

“Not only is there increased competition within the channel, but then our retailers are competing – we talk about channel blur – they’re competing with grocery, they’re competing with dollar, they’re competing with drug. They’re not just competing with the gas station across the street,”​ explained O’Keefe.

“In c-store especially, it’s a limited SKU environment – you can’t just keep making the shelf bigger. We want to make sure that what’s in those sets is working as hard as it possibly can to deliver sales and profits for our retailers. All [of those] things are under consideration as we’re launching new products and thinking about the strategy behind it. Does it replace an underperforming SKU? Does it come in as just an LTO [limited time offering] to deliver news to the category?"

Rice Krispies has previously dipped into the candy category with an M&M’s collaboration. The brand also launched Poppers (a bite-sized version of the candy-coated Dunk’d, RRP $3.99 for a 7.1oz bag) in early 2019. They are currently available in Chocolate and Cookies & Cream and in December will add two new flavors: Vanilla Creme and Caramel.

Raisins can be candy


The Cool New Products room at the NACS highlights innovation in snacks and candy, from new flavors of old favorites to category-blending concepts.

Sun-Maid already sold a version of chocolate-covered raisins, but this year the California icon has added new flavors to appeal to modern tastes – and satisfy that permissible indulgence desire.

Flavors include Chocolate ‘Peanut Butter, Dark Cocoa Dusted, and Milk Chocolate n’ Almond Crunch, all of which offer the “perfect intersection of delicious indulgence and permissible ingredients you can feel good about,” said Josh Shapiro, senior VP of marketing for parent company Promotion in Motion.

They hit shelves this autumn in 2oz single-serve tubes, 3.5oz movie/concession boxes, and 7oz resealable stand-up pouches (RRP $1.99-5.79).

New Jersey-based Promotion in Motion expanded its Franklin County manufacturing facility by 80,000 square feet in June – a $30m investment. The additional space will increase capacity for indulgent snacks like Sun-Maid’s chocolate raisins as well as its other major fruit snack brands: Welch’s and Sour Jacks.

The company bought Sun-Maid about 25 years ago.

Make room for more gummies

Last year Promotion in Motion also launched Original Gummi FunMix, showing off additional flavors and pack sizes at NACS.


This US gummy brand more so resembles its European counterparts, such as Spain’s Fini Sweets, with its variety of gummy shapes and flavor combinations.

The flagship Gummi Party bag, for instance, contains 18 types – from classic bears and worms to Gummi Sharks and cream-swirled oranges and strawberries.

A soda-pop themed bag combines cola-flavored gummy bottles with flavors like lemon-lime, orange and grape, while Rings Party marries peach rings in the same bag as apple, lemon, blue raspberry and watermelon rings. Berry Party capitalizes on that flavor trend with five berry-flavored and berry-shaped pieces coated in miniature candy nonpareils.

No gummy line is complete without a sour version, and Gummi Fun brings 16 different shapes and flavors together with its Sour Party pack, which includes everything from bite-sized Rainbow Belts and sour gummy worms to crème-filled sour licorice straws and sour cherries. Its Seriously Sour bag ups that number to 17, including rings, bottles, and several fruit-shaped pieces.

Resealable, 10oz stand-up pouches run for about $2.99, while 5oz peg bags go for $1.49-1.99.

Promotion in Motion’s Shapiro emphasized the importance of ‘experiential purchasing’ in all categories but especially in candy. “The endless combinations of shapes, textures, flavors and colors in every bag turns candy lovers into ‘Certified Candy Mixologists,’” he said.

The brand hopes to attract repeat customers through that ‘must-try-every-combo’ approach.



Netherlands-based Raindrops Enterprised was formed in 2014 by Abraham Gilinski. After working in food and candy distribution, he was inspired to create a brand focused on the experience of candy consumption.

The resulting products include gummy pizza, gummy tacos and gummy sushi. The pizza, for instance, comes packaged in a cardboard box that looks just like a takeout pizza box. Each ‘slice’ of pizza is a gummy candy.

A Candy Taco holds a mix of gummies that resemble tomatoes and shredded cheese. A sushi platter offers a variety of gummy styles that look like nigiri (sushi on top of rice) or makimono (a sushi roll).

At NACS, in the segmented area with more than 200 first-time NACS exhibitors, the company shared its newest SKU – a gummy donut, with eight gummy pieces covered in sprinkles and a drizzled ‘glaze.

The company has found distribution at big-box stores like Wal-Mart, Albertsons’ Safeway and HEB, as well as in alternative channels such as the Home Goods/TJ Maxx family of stores, World Market, and Party City. Boutique candy stores, including IT’SUGAR and Dylan’s Candy Bar also work with Raindrops.

A 15.34oz (435g) gummy pizza costs $14.99 on Amazon. The 4.59oz (130g) gummy donut goes for $6.99.

New level experiences


Since 1984, Goetze’s has made Cow Tales – a stick version of the brand’s iconic cream-filled caramels known affectionately as Bulls-Eyes. Cow Tales have been available in that original flavor as well as chocolate, strawberry and caramel apple for years.

At NACS, Goetze’s unveiled an Oreo version of both candies. According to Convenience Store News, it was one of the top 10 most scanned items in the New Products showcase. Oreo Most Stuf, an extra-stuffed version of the iconic chocolate and cream sandwich cookie, also made the cut.

The classic circular candy comes in a similar array of flavors, adding apple and black licorice. Cow Tales have occasionally featured limited edition flavors like Caramel Brownie and Sour Strawberry.

Founded in 1918 as the Baltimore Chewing Gum Company, Goetze’s remains a family-owned confectioner in Maryland.

Italian wafers blend chocolates in new treat

Loacker Duality

Alfons Loacker, a trained Austrian pâtissier, moved across the border to Northern Italy in 1925, opening his first bakery and chocolate shop. The family business acquired an automated wafer machine in 1969 that doubled production, and in 1979 expanded distribution internationally in the same packaging recognized around the world today.

Loacker chocolate bars – in flavors such as Napolitaner (hazelnut), Raspberry Yogurt, and Milk, Dark, or White Crème – already feature the brand’s signature wafers, hidden inside the chocolate.

The brand’s new Duality Chocolate Bar (RRP $1.50-1.99 for a 50g bar), highlighted at NACS, swaps a layer of wafer for petite rounds of ‘wafer crispies,’ which offer “a new way to enjoy our premium wafers,”​ said TJ Rooney, president of Loacker USA.

Each bar boasts one layer of a ‘dark milk’ chocolate of 38% cacao, speckled with the wafer rounds. The Caramel Hazelnut, debuted earlier this month in Atlanta, add hazelnut pieces and a top layer of ‘‘white caramel’ chocolate. The Coffee version is topped with a coffee-infused white chocolate.

Like all Loacker products, the Duality bars are free from preservatives and added colorings or flavorings.

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