Hitting the sweet spot Calorie-conscious Brits still love sweet treats

Despite the latest figures showing an annual sales value decline of just under one percent, sugar confectionery remains firmly up there in the top four purchases in the convenience channel, says Mark Roberts, Trade Marketing Manager at Perfetti Van Melle. “Sugar confectionery is only outpaced by the everyday essentials of bread, milk and soft drinks, so it’s a category wholesalers cannot ignore.”

The total UK Sugar Confectionery market is worth a mouth watering annual £1.3 billion. Perfetti van Melle’s share is worth £66.3m and growing +2.1%. One of the world’s largest confectionery manufacturers and distributors, PVM continue to deliver year on year growth across their brands in the UK.

But there’s a note of caution in all this. We still have a big appetite for the sweet stuff, even though we’re now increasingly drawn to lower sugar options, as Mark points out:

“Numerous trends are changing the way we live, altering shopper missions. Most notably, consumers are now more health conscious, and looking for alternative products. The government is focusing heavily on sugar, supported by Public Health England which is looking to reduce sugar in our diets, and reduced and sugar free confectionery products are key to supporting this high impulse category.”

As a result of these developments, says Mark, the Better for You (BFY) segment of the confectionery market is worth £44.2m and growing at +8.1% annually. He quotes research showing 73% of ‘BFY’ sales are incremental:

“This implies that Better for You is bringing people in who previously may not have considered confectionery. We expect this growth to continue in the spring season, as consumers look to start making healthier decisions going into the summer months.”

PVM is leading the way in the Better For You sector as the number one manufacturer worth £13.2m, an increase of 23.6% MAT, and this growth rate doesn’t look likely to tail off any time soon, says Mark:

“We are pleased with the performance of our sugar reduced and sugar free ranges, across our Fruittella, Smint, Mentos and Chupa Chups brands. In 2019 we will continue to emphasise the benefits of our reduced and sugar free offering, alongside our best-selling core products.”

Mark Roberts says PVM don’t wish to dictate what consumers should and shouldn’t buy. “We have led this fantastic growth by providing choice and information, offering alternatives across sugar free and sugar reduced as well as classic sugar based, which allows consumers to make conscious selections.”

As an example Mark says fruit juice helped to remove the sugar in Fruittella 30% Less Sugar, while maintaining the flavour and product experience expected in a Fruittella product. In the last year the confectionery market saw bags and boxes grow +£14m, highlighting the importance of sharing and gifting pack formats. This is an opportunity convenience store owners cannot miss across the Easter period, in which gifting, entertaining and family get-togethers are on the rise.

The spring season offers a multitude of key occasions for wholesalers to take advantage of, namely Easter and Mother’s Day. “Spring confectionery sales can often be dominated by chocolate,” Mark Roberts concedes, “however novelty and innovative additions in sugar confectionery offer retailers the chance to bring in new people and encourage a healthy growth in incremental sales throughout spring.”

Haribo, another leading player in the sugar confectionery market, has unveiled a cracking seasonal campaign and is inviting shoppers to ‘Hunt the Double Yolker’ in limited edition bags of Starmix. With premium UK Forest Holidays up for grabs, shoppers have until 21st April to find one of 20 random ‘Double Yolkers’ that have joined the five iconic pieces in its top selling bags of Starmix.

Claire James, Trade Marketing Manager for HARIBO, comments: “Hunt the Double Yolker is HARIBO’s biggest ever seasonal campaign, developed to drive excitement and sales as we count down to Easter.”

As part of the campaign, Starmix will retain the much-loved pieces found in each bag – including the Egg – but 20 packs will also feature a lucky handcrafted Double Yolker. Those that discover a winning piece will receive a fabulous UK family holiday.

“Hunt the Double Yolker is simple and fun!” says Claire. “It complements our seasonal offering, which caters for those customers looking for a tasty alternative to chocolate and reinforces our association to traditional Easter hunting in a distinctly HARIBO way.” Available across sharing formats, this product is available now, supported by in-store activation to drive category sales for retailers.

Over at Mondelez, they refer to sugar confectionery as candy and cough sweets as relief candy, but their importance in the sector is clear in any terminology. We spoke to Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International:

“With the second biggest branded player in the UK market, the number one mint brand and the number one relief candy brand in our portfolio, Mondelez International is proud to be a leading contributor to this category.”

One of the UK’s most loved candy brands, Maynards Bassetts, a key member of the Mondelez family, continuously innovates to bring new tastes and textures to the market for wholesalers and their retail customers. Over the last 18 months, the brand has introduced Gummies and Jellies in the small bag sector, and Wine Gums Mocktails, Jelly Babies Tropical, and Wine Gums Tangy, which have been highly incremental to the category.

Launches like Maynards Bassetts Soft Jellies Wild Safari aim to bring younger adults into the category to add to these incremental sales.

In the Mints sector, Mondelez’s Trebor is the UK’s number one brand with 35% share of the mints and gums market, nearly double its nearest rival. Best-sellers Trebor Extra Strong and Trebor Softmints have the highest rate of sale of all UK mint products. Trebor also caters to the on-the-go occasion, offering Softmints and sugar-free Mighties in a handy 100g pot format, allowing consumers to easily enjoy their mints while out and about.

Another treat for on-the-go consumers, Trebor has brought out its first ever hard boiled, sugar free candy, Trebor Cool Drops, launching in a handy 28g flip-top box in two refreshing flavours, Trebor Cool Drops Sugar Free Extra Fresh and Trebor Cool Drops Sugar Free Lemon, with less than 100 kcal per pack. The launch is supported by a new digital campaign and a 50p PMP pack.

Also in Mondelez’s portfolio is Halls, the UK’s number one Relief Candy brand, Halls, which unveiled a new look last year. The redesign champions the benefits of both Halls’ sub-ranges, Halls and Halls Soothers, throughout the cough and cold season, bringing their product qualities to life. Halls also offers a range of PMP packs, an additional incentive for shoppers. Halls Soothers Blackcurrant is the number one selling SKU in the Relief Candy category.

Jodie Wood, Business Unit Controller at Ferrero, says the mints and gums category has seen increased demand for fruit flavours over the past few years:

“We have acted upon this trend with insight-driven NPD, and our Lime & Orange Tic Tacs continue to be a firm favourite. Consumers are more and more aware of their health and wellbeing and looking for options that work as part of a balanced and varied diet. Produced in small portion sizes, Tic Tac products cater well to this trend.”

Jodie Wood refers to the IGD forecasting the convenience channel to grow by 17% between 2015 and 2020, with shoppers completing smaller purchase missions, more frequently:

“With mints and gums most commonly occurring as impulse purchases in convenience stores, we recommend retailers maximize the sales opportunity by siting these products in disruptive locations. Pocket confectionery is one of the most impulsive categories in confectionery, with 7 out of 10 purchase acts being unplanned. Many shoppers will also browse for longer at places such as the newspaper or magazine fixture. Retailers can capitalise on this opportunity by implementing magazine hook-over units.”

In 2018, Ferrero launched a £1.5m TV campaign, the first on the core brand in five years, heroing Tic Tac and encouraging people to ‘Open Up’ and take on new experiences. Tic Tac also created an experiential pop-up in London, showcasing the brand’s flavours.

Mark Walker is Sales Director at Swizzels, the UK’s fastest growing sugar confectionery manufacturer and one of the few remaining independent, British based sugar confectionery suppliers. Still family-owned, Swizzels’ sales are up +9% annually. Mark Walker puts this down to the vibrancy of the category:

“Sugar confectionery has been in high demand over the past year. This is expected to continue due to sweet innovations leading the way and contributing to growth. Swizzels is the fourth largest manufacturer of sugar confectionery, with over £1 in every £10 spent on sugar confectionery spent on Swizzels products.

Swizzels’ hanging bags are worth £36.4m, up +11% with £1 PMPs driving growth at +21% YOY, so the business is perfectly positioned to drive growth in the category. Swizzels’ latest addition to its PMP range and the soft chew hanging bag category is Choos..

Drumstick Choos provide five double flavour combinations, while Refreshers Choos offer five fizzy flavours with the unique Refreshers sherbet centre. The soft chewy texture is in keeping with consumer demand for softer products, and the recognisable Drumstick and Refreshers names are sure to draw the attention of shoppers seeking a sweet treat from popular brands they know and love.

Brand new from Swizzels for 2019 is the Drumstick Mixed Lolly Bag. This 175g bag contains individually wrapped Drumstick lollies in the popular flavours; Original Raspberry & Milk, Cherry & Apple and Bubblegum. Swizzels has also expanded its 10p Drumstick Chew Bar range this year with a brand-new flavour, Bubblegum. This follows the huge success of the Drumstick Original Chew Bar, in +18% growth. With 7.8bn people in the UK reported to be avoiding meat products, all Swizzels’ chew bars will be vegetarian and vegan friendly from March 2019 to meet the increased consumer demand.

Swizzels’ Squashies is the UK’s third bestselling sugar confectionery brand and the UK’s fastest growing sugar confectionery brand, with a bag sold every second. Drumstick Squashies Original £1 PMP is the UK’s best-selling confectionery price marked pack, and the sixth bestselling confectionery SKU. Squashies sharing bags are also available in 160g non-PMPs, and, for those customers seeking a portion controlled sweet treat for on the go consumption, the range is now available in 45g bags on a 3 for £1 multibuy across the Original Raspberry & Milk, Sour Apple & Cherry and Bubblegum flavours.

For shoppers on the lookout for a value-for-money treat, Swizzels’ 30p countline range is perfect, with everyone’s favourite Swizzels classics in bumper size, including giant Love Hearts and Parma Violets packs, mega Double Lollies, Rainbow Drops and Double Dip with an all-year-round 4 for £1 multibuy.