Sugar confectionery is a hugely important impulse category for independent retailers, says Levi Borer, customer development director at Ferrero, with 2.9 million households buying into the segment in 2017. However, because of the increasingly popular health trend, its sales have fluctuated in recent times. Sugar reduction is playing a big role in shaping the category; over the past five years, members of the Food and Drink Federation, including brands such as Mondelēz International and Perfetti.
Sugar reduction is playing a big role in shaping the category; over the past five years, members of the Food and Drink Federation, including brands such as Mondelēz International and Perfetti Van Melle, have reduced the amount of sugar per basket by 12.1%. These brands have also pledged to maintain the same taste and texture of their products and to offer them in more convenient formats, such as bags and bottles, for on-the-go-consumption and sharing.
Health and wellness are arguably the biggest trends across the entire grocery sector and are having a significant impact on the sugar confectionery category. Nestlé Confectionery says 92% of households are trying to manage and/or reduce the amount of sugars in the food they buy and 53% of sweet buyers would buy a reduced-sugar alternative if it was available.
Many brands have reformulated their ranges in response to these consumer preferences. Nestlé Confectionery now offers 30% reduced-sugar variants of its Rowntree’s Pastilles and Randoms sweets.
The brand says that while consumers are looking for reduced-sugar options, they are unwilling to compromise on taste, which Nestlé claims is the “number one purchase-driver” for confectionery. Sarah Drakes, senior brand manager at Nestlé for its Rowntree’s portfolio, says: “With UK consumers looking to manage their sugar consumption, but unwilling to compromise on taste, any reduced-sugar version of a favourite brand must ensure satisfaction guaranteed.”
Mark Roberts, trade marketing manager at Perfetti Van Melle, says: “Sales of ‘better for you’ products are growing by 20% in the total confectionery market. Research is already showing that 73% of sales in ‘better for you’ are incremental to the category, implying that people who previously may not have considered confectionery are entering the category.” Perfetti Van Melle says it used fruit juice to remove 30% of sugar from its reduced-sugar Fruittella range, but “ensured the flavour and product experience that is expected in a Fruittella was maintained”.
Last year, the brand added Jelly Foams and Gummies to its reduced-sugar range is re-sealable bags. Its latest launch was sugar-free Fruittella Fruit Drops, available in Citrus and Red Berry Mix flavours in flip-top boxes. Matthew Navier, Fruittella brand manager, says: “Stocking a range of sugar-free and less-sugar confectionery options is proven to drive incremental sales for retailers by, on average, 73%. As well as the sales opportunity that sugar-free products represent, it is now more important than ever to conform to government guidelines and guidance from Public Health England with a responsible variety of products.”
Russell Tanner, marketing and category management director at Tangerine Confectionery, says: “The popularity of soft-gum confectionery has increased significantly over the last few years, becoming a leading area of the category.” In 2017, Tangerine says it reduced the sugar content of its Fruit Salad Softies by 21% and its DipDab Softies are 38% lower is sugar than “other similar products”. The company says its new products for 2018 will contain 20% less sugar than comparable sweets and it will also be working on expanding its gelatine-free range, which it says will also reduce sugar levels. In January 2018, Haribo added a Fruitilicious range of 30% reduced-sugar sweets to is portfolio, containing 30% less sugar than “regular fruit gum sweets”. The brand says its new variant delivers the lowest sugar content per 100g.
While sugar reduction is important, retailers must be aware that this category is also a chance for shoppers to treat themselves with brands and flavours they know and enjoy. Tanner says: “The willingness to indulge remains a primary buying trigger, resulting in the continued growth of the sugar confectionery market. As the decision to indulge is often spontaneous, this lends itself to the nature of independent convenience stores, offering a greater opportunity for maximising sales by stocking the right products and formats.”
Fruit flavours are the most popular in the sugar confectionery category. According to Nestlé Confectionery, they account for 68% of total sugar confectionery sales and are responsible for driving all growth. The company says fruit sugar confectionery has enjoyed “good growth” for the last two years, increasing by 5% in the last year. Tangerine Confectionery recently brought back its Barratt brand of sweets, following research that found 75% of shoppers still have a strong affinity and fondness for the brand.
The range, which includes Fruit Salad, Refreshers, Nougat, Sherbet Fountain, Fruit Salad, Black Jack, Wham, Refreshers Softies and Fruit Salad Softies, recently acquired a Sour Apple flavour DipDab, which Barratt says taps into “the increasing demand for sour-tasting confectionery, which has grown by 213% in the last year”. The brand has also launched Sour Bon Bons and Fruity Coconut Mushrooms. Says Tanner: “The popularity of coconut-flavoured products has soared over the last few years, making them a desirable sweet treat for adult consumers looking to indulge.”
The latest variant to join Mars Wrigley’s portfolio is Starburst Very Berry, which is available in Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry and Cranberry flavours in 45g single packets and 192g sharing bags. Dan Newell, confections marketing director at Mars Wrigley Confectionery, says: “Berry flavours have a proven track record of driving growth in the sugar confectionery category, so Starburst Very Berry will help retailers cash in on the fast-growing flavour trend.”
Following consumer research which highlighted that, over the last 10 years, the gum category has seen a 20% decline in penetration from the younger generation, Mars Wrigley has launched a Starburst Chewing Gum range. Available in Fruity Mixies, Strawberry Cubes and Red Berry Sticks, the brand says the range is set to appeal to 15- to 24-year-olds, where fruit gum “significantly over-indexes”.
Mondelēz International says four out of five of the best-selling mint products in the UK are from its Trebor brand and the number one best-selling variant is Trebor Extra Strong Peppermint. In April this year, the brand re-launched its “Get Minted” campaign, offering shoppers the chance to win one of 102 cash prizes, ranging from £50 to £5,000. Shoppers can win by unwrapping Trebor promotional packs and finding a ticket revealing if they have won. Retailers who stock Trebor and use the “Get Minted” POS will receive Love2Shop vouchers to the same value as the shopper prize.
Perfetti Van Melle’s latest launch is its Mentos Stay Free, which is available in Peppermint and Menthol Eucalyptus flavours and aims to “offer retailers an innovative point of difference at their till fixtures”. Says Roberts: “While the mints and gum category is seeing decline, we are focused on driving more penetration in the market. We saw strong results last year and we are hoping to replicate that this year with a full calendar of activity. Retailers can maximise sales by utilising our range of Mentos POS in-store.”
Bags and boxes
The confectionery market has seen bags and boxes grow by £9m in the last year, according to Perfetti Van Melle, while singles have lost £20m over the same period. Despite this, it says, confectionery remains in the top four purchases within the convenience channel, only ranking behind the “everyday essentials” of bread, milk and soft drinks.
Last summer, Mondelēz International launched its Softmints and Mighties products in a 100g pot format, to allow consumers to “easily enjoy the mints on the go”. Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelēz International, says: “The larger format is ideal for the desk at work, in handbags and briefcases for the daily commute, or in the car for long journeys. The pot format is now worth £4.5m in the mints category and the launch of these popular mints in a convenient format aims to help retailers drive further mint sales.”
Mars Wrigley says bottles are the most impulsive purchase format and the bottle format for its Skittles Fruits variant allows consumers to “enjoy Skittles whilst on the go” with a re-sealable lid. The company says sales of sharing bags continue to increase, due to the popularity of the ‘big night in’ trend and that its Skittles brand is a “vital offering” for the trend, as 60% of Skittles are consumed as an evening snack. Newell says: “Creating a clear display that communicates the ‘big night in’ occasion draws shoppers to the fixture. Remember to focus the display on products that are ideal for sharing, such as Starburst Tear and Share pouches.”
Andrew Ovens, marketing manager at Big Bear Confectionery, says: “According to recent Kantar Worldpanel data, year-on-year total sugar confectionery spend is up 5% and sharing bags and pouches are predicted to grow in demand throughout 2018.” The company is celebrating 100 years of its Fox’s brand with the launch of limited edition variants into the Fox’s Glacier range. Following what the brand claims was a successful launch of Fox’s Glacier Berries and Ice Cream Favourites in 2017, the brand has launched Fox’s Glacier Tropical in a 200g pack, which it claims is “perfect for road trips in the car during the summer months.”
Source: Sweet stuff