Confection Direction

Manufacturers strike big with shareable, portable treats.

Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

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Building on the successful introduction last spring of Snickers Bites and Milky Way Bites, Mars Chocolate North America is launching three new flavors of unwrapped, bite-sized treats in SUPs: 3 Musketeers Bites and Milky Way Simply Caramel Bites, both launching in January 2014; and Twix Bites, coming in April 2014.
The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has been pleased with the success of its Starburst Minis, introduced this past summer and available in both a 3.5-ounce “share size” pack and 8-ounce SUP.
In North America, Hershey’s growth strategy is grounded in strategic, incremental and what the confectioner calls “sticky” innovation to guide new product development. This is epitomized by the Minis chocolate line, which includes this past summer’s successful Kit Kat Minis, Rolo Minis and the new York Minis. 
On the nonchocolate side, Hershey extended its hand-to-mouth innovation with Twizzler Bites and Jolly Rancher Bites, now offered in a soft and chewy formulation. The product creates a synergy with Jolly Rancher hard candy to expand frequency usage. 
“C-store requires specific thought as to how that hand-to-mouth need manifests itself, such as who is the consumer and where/when do they need to fulfill that need,” says Kavanagh of Hershey. “These considerations often impact the size of the pack and the appropriate products for that occasion.”
And American Licorice Co., recognizing that its Red Vines and Sour Punch candy “may not have been as convenient to drop in your mouth,” has developed more bite sizes to fill that need, says Madalyn Friedman, director of marketing for the Union City, Calif.-based confectioner. 
American Licorice’s Fruit Vines Bites, bite-sized chewy candies available in cherry and strawberry varieties in a 10-ounce resealable bag (as well as 2- and 5-ounce packages), are set to launch in January. Also launching next year: a 9-ounce SUP for Sour Punch Bites.

Prudent Innovation  

More than 1,400 candy launches penetrated retail channels in 2010, but in 2012 that number dwindled to 765, according to Datamonitor. Chocolate led with 423 rollouts, while nonchocolate had 302. Candy and snack items accounted for 26% of all new CPG introductions in 2012. This restraint, some say, is a good thing.
“As economic challenges continue, confectioners have become more thoughtful and conservative in their approach. Even with numbers down, we’ve seen a resurgence in sharable, resealable packages, and this trend is excelling due in part to the shift of consumer snacking habits,” says Ellek of NCA.

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