CHICAGO -- In convenience stores, refrigerated juices, functional beverages and shelf-stable snacks, chips and pretzels are some of the top 10 categories by volume. In natural, specialty and gourmet stores, those categories account for 34% of natural-product sales. In conventional outlets such as Kroger and Safeway, they account for 44%. In convenience, share of sales jumps to 89%.
So what brands are leading this momentum? To find out, Convenience Store Products worked with SPINS to identify the 10 top-selling natural brands across beverage, snacks and confection categories in all conventional segments. Use the lists to explore flavor and ingredient trends, learn what brand messaging is resonating with the natural consumer, and identify places to expand sets.
Click through to see the 10 best-selling natural confection brands ...
1. Annie’s Homegrown
Newest Product: Organic Strawberry & Chocolate Fruit Wands
General Mills purchased Annie’s Homegrown in 2014, giving it scale, resources and a portfolio that spans the snacks and grocery spectrum. In confection, the company concentrates efforts on organic fruit-based snacks. It manufactures seven varieties of Bunny Fruit Snacks, two varieties of Organic Fruit Bites and two varieties of Really Peely Fruit Tapes. The company’s mission is to make organic food of all types available to everyone.
Newest Product: Dark Chocolate Peanut With Sea Salt
Purchased by The Hershey Co. in 2016, BarkThins uses no artificial flavors and preservatives, is certified non-GMO and comes in resealable pouches. The company makes seven (and growing) dark-chocolate flavor combinations: Almond With Sea Salt, Pretzel With Sea Salt, Coconut With Almonds, Pumpkin Seed With Sea Salt, Peanut With Sea Salt, Mint and Blueberry With Quinoa Crunch.
3. Endangered Species
Newest Product: Dark Chocolate Bark With Salted Hazelnut Toffee
The Endangered Species brand was built on a promise to give 10% of its net profits to its 10% GiveBack partners, which include the Rainforest Trust, African Wildlife Foundation, Chimp Haven and others. The company is also selective in the chocolate it sources: It chooses chocolate only from farmers who practice sustainable farming practices, and it pays a responsible, living wage for its ingredients. Other products include chocolate bars, bites and spreads.
Newest Product: Nut Butter Cups
Chocolove chocolate bars are available in 30 flavors from sweet milk chocolate with 33% cocoa content to Extreme Dark with 88% cocoa content. Founder Timothy Moley dreamed up his company while sitting in a cocoa field in Indonesia when he was a volunteer for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He set out to develop a delicious, high-quality chocolate at prices more people could afford. Other products available include bars, minibars and chocolate-covered nuts.
5. Green & Black’s
Newest Product: Nonorganic chocolate
Green & Black’s was founded on sustainable and ethical cocoa-sourcing principles. “Green” comes from the commitment to those practices, and “black” stands for the high quality and intensity of the chocolate. The brand originated in London with an organic chocolate bar made with 70% cocoa. The company also manufactures products made with four types of chocolate and in seven flavors.
Newest Product: Peanut Butter Cups
In 2004, founder Justin Gold set out to create nut butters that are high in protein but also taste great. Now a Hormel company, Justin’s makes a variety of snacks, including confection in the form of full-sized and mini peanut butter cups. The entire product line consists of avored almond, hazelnut and peanut butter and snack packs with pretzels or banana chips.
7. Theo Chocolate
Newest Product: Chocolate Clusters
Since 1994, Theo Chocolate founder Joe Whinney has worked to champion organic chocolate and fair-trade practices. And in 2006, he manufactured the first line of fair-trade, organic chocolate in the United States, the company says. One of the company’s goals is to be the most progressive chocolate maker in the country. Other products available include caramels, coconut bites and almond and peanut butter cups.
8. Private Label
Kroger’s line of Simple Truth natural and organic products includes bars of organic dark chocolate made with 70% cacao and almonds covered in natural dark chocolate. Annual sales of private-label products across all channels were up 5% in 2016, or $5.4 billion, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, New York.
9. Project 7
Newest Product: Girl Scouts Project 7 Gum and Mints
In 2008, Tyler Merrick started Project 7 with one simple business mantra: products for good. “If people are going to buy things, lots of things, then let’s use those things they purchase to help change the world around us,” he said. “Let’s make everyday products for everyday people to solve everyday problems.” This specialty gum and mint company gives back to seven areas of need: heal the sick, save the Earth, house the homeless, feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, teach them well and hope for peace. Other products available include gummies and clusters.
10. Black Forest Organic
Newest Product: Black Forest Fruity Chews
This Ferrara Candy Co. brand came about following a $25 million investment by the candy company to develop the infrastructure needed to produce an organic line, the Chicago Tribune reported. The company hopes the expansion of its organic candy business supports a goal of doubling business to $2 billion in three years. Products under the Black Forest brand include organic gummy bears, worms and cherries, organic fruit snacks, organic fruity chews, organic hard candies and organic sour heads.