1. New twists
In candy, 2019 was a year of flavor mashups and twists on classic candy bars.
Hershey's Kit Kat Duos Mint and Dark Chocolate, Mars Wrigley’s Twix Cookies and Creme and Ferrara Candy Co.’s Trolli Sour Crunchy Crawlers were just a few examples that were displayed on the NACS Show floor in Atlanta in October.
Hershey even changed its classic Hershey’s milk chocolate bar for the first time in its 100-year history with the release of its emoji bar. The idea for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Emoji Bar developed as part of Hershey’s The Heartwarming Project, which brings together teens to develop strategies to overcome social isolation. In developing the product, executives with Hershey thought of what parents could buy for their children to help ease first-day-of-school nerves.
2. Healthy snacks
7-Eleven debuted nearly 100 new healthy products in May at 125 stores in Los Angeles as part of its Sips & Snacks That Love You Back campaign. The launch featured items from 31 up-and-coming brands with keto, paleo, vegan, organic, gluten-free and plant-based snacks.
The healthy snack and candy products featured in the rollout included Bobo’s Oat Bars, fresh-baked meal replacement bars; Fishpeople Jerky, salmon jerky; Love Corn, premium crunchy corn snacks; Clio Bars, dark chocolate-wrapped Greek yogurt bars; and Smashcrispy, marshmallow rice treats.
2019 saw many mergers and acquisitions of snack and candy companies. Among the biggest:
- Conagra Brands, Chicago, sold its direct-store delivery snacks business to Utz Quality Foods LLC. Hanover, Pa.-based Utz took control of Conagra’s brands, including Tim’s Cascade Snacks, Hawaiian Snacks, Erin’s, Snyder of Berlin and more.
- The Hershey Co. completed its acquisition of One Brands LLC, a maker of low-sugar, high-protein nutrition bars. The $397 million deal will complement the Hershey, Pa.-based company’s Oatmega business, Hershey said. Hershey also announced a minority investment in Fulfil Holdings Ltd., a European leader in high-protein bars, and Blue Stripes Cacao Shop.
- Mondelez International, Deerfield, Ill., acquired a majority interest in refrigerated nutrition-bar company Perfect Snacks.
- When it comes to baked goods, Hostess Brands, Kansas City, Mo., agreed to sell its Superior Cake Products bakery business to Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, and The Ferrero Group, Alba, Italy, acquired the cookie, fruit and fruit-flavored snack, ice cream cone and pie crust business from The Kellogg Co.
4. High-protein snacks
Retailers are increasingly highlighting protein snacks, and 52% of consumers find high-protein snacks appealing, according to data from CSP sister research company Technomic, Chicago.
This year, 7-Eleven added Optimum Nutrition protein snacks.
Smucker Away From Home introduced Jif Power Ups, which are granola bars made with peanuts as its first ingredient. The bars have 6 grams of protein.
Retailers are also experimenting with a new kind of meat snack: biltong. The South African favorite is air-dried, unlike its jerky counterpart. The snack is usually made with no sugar and is high in protein. For example, each 2-ounce bag of Made by True’s sliced biltong contains 32 grams of protein.
5. Using tech to drive sales
Candy and snack companies have also used technology in the past year to help retailers and customers find their brands.
Hershey updated its online portal, Hershey Solutions, so convenience-store owners can order new products the same day they are announced. Hershey Solutions also provides current updates to buyers' Retailer Rewards rebate status, identifies compliance gaps and allows retailers to act on compliance voids.
Utz Quality Foods partnered with WeStock. The application allows shoppers to request that store restock food and beverage products. The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store. Customers can request certain products are restocked or carried by their local store. WeStock then notifies shoppers when and where specific products are available.