There’s much debate about the sugar in our diets in the mass media yet still UK consumers are ’sweet’ on sweets and those consumers are not just kids. Indeed, according to Mintel’s latest Sugar and Gum Confectionery report, four out of five adults had eaten sweets in the six months to September 2014. The research firm found that under-25s were the core users, with 86% of 16- to 24-year olds having eaten sweets in this period, with 71% of those eating them at least once a week.

But what are they eating? Well, according to Mintel again, Haribo is the market-leading sugar confectionery brand so the likes of Tangfastics and Starmix are a pretty sure bet. Indeed IRI data to the week ending May 23, reveals that Haribo retains its position as the number one sugar confectionery brand with a 12.74% share of the forecourt market and a 26.93% share of the gums and jellies sector.

Haribo sales director, Rory Goodwin, puts the brand’s continued success down to a combination of great value across a variety of pack formats, and also through new product development which includes brand extensions.

Sour is still a big trend and despite an influx of new sour treats during 2014, Goodwin says Tangfastics remains the most popular and is also the only sour sweet within the top 10 hanging bags.

Tangfastics and fellow brand Starmix have been extended in the form of Frenzy Editions packs, where consumers can find all the existing shapes but in new tropical flavours and more vibrant colours. This could mean anything from a pink passion fruit-flavoured fried egg to a watermelon cola bottle.

A further brand extension comes from Haribo’s successful tie up with the Minions characters from the Despicable Me films. Following its success with Minions sweets last year, there are more available now to coincide with the release of the new Minions film. Haribo Minions now come in three new collectable bags featuring characters Kevin, Stuart and Bob with an updated mixture of Minion shaped jelly and foam pieces. Then there are Tangy Minions created using the Tangfastics original sour mix recipe.

An on-pack promotion is currently running on more than 500,000 bags of Minions, with hundreds of themed prizes up for grabs.

Something for nothing

Everyone likes something for nothing so a prize for simply purchasing your favourite sweet is always going to be a winner. Current promotions include Celebrate Like Royalty on Maynards, which has a first prize of a luxury banquet on a private jet (worth £20,000) as well as 250 ’sumptuous banquets’ up for grabs. And Nestlé’s Rowntree’s has a summer promotion on Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums, Randoms, Jelly Tots and Tooty Fruities which gives consumers the chance to win one of 85 Great Escapes. Prizes differ depending on packs so Jelly Tots offers farm and forest escapes; Randoms is giving away glamorous glamping trips; while Fruit Pastilles has breaks to luxury lodges.

Meanwhile, Skittles has teamed up with Xbox to give consumers the chance to win an Xbox One with every promotional bag sold until the end of the year. This follows a similar link up last year which brand owner Wrigley described as a "huge success" as it resulted in more households purchasing the sweets.

This time around a unique code features on packs of Skittles fruits, sours, confused and wild berry flavours, on both the 55g individual bags and 174g sharing bags. After purchasing a promotional pack, consumers enter their unique code at and then play a Skittles game to be in with a chance of winning. And no one goes away empty handed, as a free Skittles wallpaper will be available to download with every valid code entered.

Skittles was recently made available in a pack format ideal for forecourts a bottle similar to the ones for Wrigley gum. At the time of the launch, Dan Newell, Wrigley marketing manager confections, said: "We’ve identified a huge gap in the market for the on-the-go occasion and responded to it with the launch of the new Skittles bottle format." Rrp is £1.29 and the bottles come in cases of six.

Skittles is definitely a ’must stock’ brand for forecourts because, according to Nielsen data, it’s worth over £39m and is currently growing four times faster than the sugar confectionery category.

Another must stock is Tic Tac because, again according to Nielsen data, it’s currently the fastest-growing sugar confectionery brand in the UK, with sales increasing by 13.5%.

The brand is supported by a Happy Rewards promotion which promises a reward with every pack. Shoppers accumulate reward points with every purchase of a promotional pack and can cash them in whenever they want at There are seven tiers of prizes which allow consumers to redeem their Happy Reward codes immediately on items such as phone wallpapers and ringtones or save them up for higher value rewards such as free Cineworld tickets.

"Every shopper loves to receive an added perk and we’re confident that the Happy Rewards promotion will help retailers boost their sales," says Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero. "We know the mechanic works last year, we launched the Tic Tac Find a Fiver campaign, where consumers could win £5 or a £5-off voucher with selected partners, and the activity generated over 54,000 entries and repeat purchases."

Ferrero likes to reward retailers too and, earlier this year, it ran a ’Win a trip to the Big Apple’ competition. All retailers had to do was buy a promotional case of Tic Tac and scratch off the scratchcard included inside. There were nearly 300 entries from across the UK and Ireland. Dave Flanagan, from Ballinasloe Service Station in Co Galway, was the Ireland winner. Upon winning he said: "I couldn’t believe it when I found out that I’d won the amazing prize of a trip to New York. I’ve always stocked Tic Tac in the forecourt as they sell well as an impulse purchase near the till point, and this is such a lovely reward from Ferrero."

Retro trend

"We might have heard it many times before, but it is still the case that our love of retro sweets is continuing to have a positive sales impact," says Jonathan Summerley, purchasing director at wholesale confectionery specialist Hancocks. "Adults love them to taste memories of their younger years, while children and teens try them for the first time (often encouraged by mum or dad!). There is a very affordable feelgood factor that surrounds retro sweets and it’s set to stay."

Swizzels has cashed in on the retro trend by serving up sweet treats such as Love Hearts and Drumsticks in softer gum versions, called Squashies. And now it’s addressing the sour trend too with new Drumstick Squashies in sour cherry & apple flavour.

Candyland has cashed in similarly with its popular Wham products producing Wham Super Sour Minis, which come in a 200g sharing bag, rrp £1.29. Each bag contains miniature sour versions of the traditional chew bars in original, sour apple and sour raspberry flavours.

Meanwhile, Hancocks is hoping to create a whole new following for its fudge range which comes in some rather unusual flavours. The 12-strong line-up includes strawberry & Champagne; chocolate & mint; Jammie Dodger; cookie dough; kola kube; chocolate peanut butter; and Jaeger Bomb. All come in 2kg tubs.

"Traditional vanilla fudge continues to be a key seller among our massive range of bulk pick and mix sweets," explains Summerley. "This new range of fudge combines the traditional taste with some refreshing and rather unusual flavours."

He suggests that the fudge can be sold from a pick and mix display or packaged into smaller amounts.

"Sales of pick and mix continue to grow and this is an extremely profitable sector of confectionery for retailers. It is easy to achieve margins of 50, 60 or 70% from selling bulk sweets in some way. Compare this to branded margins that hover around 20% and it’s easy to see why so many retailers are being proactive with pick and mix."

Summerley says that what is interesting is the increasing number of formats that pick and mix sweets are now being sold in.

"Many retailers choose to pack up bulk pick and mix sweets into smaller amounts; either in single varieties or in themed mixes. A clear bag was the obvious starting point but today there are many other formats to consider, depending on the end use for the sweets. Tubs are great if you’re selling the sweets to share on the move, or perhaps to eat over a period of time. Small Victorian-style sweet jars help to create the product into a gifting item perfect for a summer souvenir or as a token gift. Even larger jars are sometimes used, perhaps to create a treat for the family. Most recently, cone bags have become an extremely popular format to pack bulk sweets into. So much so, that we now sell cone bags in addition to a range of other containers."

Understanding the occasions

Haribo’s Goodwin reckons that by understanding the different purchase occasions and stocking products that are suitable for each one, retailers can increase their sales. He points to on-the-go treats for one, sharing bags for a Big Night In or multipacks for a special occasion as just some of those occasions.

Wrigley European Confections business unit director, Tony Lorman, says stocking confectionery for the Big Night In occasion is crucial.

"Remember to focus on products that are ideal for sharing such as Starburst ’Tear and Share’ pouches, which are great as they are individually wrapped and offer a variety of flavours for everyone to enjoy," he says. "Building a clear display that communicates the Big Night In occasion will also draw shoppers into the fixture and cross-category promotions will certainly encourage incremental purchases."

Swizzels marketing manager, Sarah-Louise Heslop, says an increasing number of consumers are choosing larger products: ie those weighing over 100g. "Variety packs are an important part of this, with one in three variety bags being sold in convenience stores. Swizzels holds a 90% share of sugar variety packs, and nine of the top 10 variety packs Swizzels’ brands," she explains.

Heslop believes that the Loadsa sharing bags range is perfectly suited to all sharing occasions: "The £1 price-marked range has recently undergone a redesign to ensure it stands out on shelf and appeals to consumers. Over one million £1 Loadsa bags were sold in 2014, and the brand continues to see very strong (+27%) year-on-year growth."

But, while some consumers like the big bags, many others are keen on portion control and are therefore looking for smaller ones, which is why Haribo’s range starts with a tiny 16g bag.

Retailer view

"We have a lot of kids come in the shop as we’re in between four primary and two secondary schools. We site the kids’ sweets at the start of the queuing system, next to the run of confectionery and we buy via Budgens or Bonds Sweets, who are now centrally billed via Budgens.
"There are some children who spend pennies whatever they can scrape together and then there are those who will visit our American import range and spend a tenner or more each visit! The American section has made us a real destination shop, so much so that we’re about to introduce an Asian confectionery range to hopefully encourage even more footfall.
We keep an eye out for special deals, introductory offers and new lines so the section retains that exciting ’new feel’ to it. We maintain a core range which accounts for about 85% of it, but just by rotating a small amount of lines you can renew the whole section and generate new interest."

What’s new in sugar confectionery?

Jelly Belly is enjoying great success with BeanBoozled, packs where classic Jelly Belly jelly bean flavours are paired with wild-tasting lookalikes. The imposter beans look identical to the traditional flavour so consumers are never sure what they are going to get until they eat them. It could be tutti-fruitti or its twin ’stinky socks’ or it could be butter popcorn or ’rotten egg’. Tony Alfano, CEO of Best Imports, the UK importer of Jelly Belly, says retail demand is unprecedented. BeanBoozled is currently available as a novelty game and 45g box, but will soon also be available in a larger 54g share bag.
New from Walkers Nonsuch is the Uno pack which contains an original creamy bar and a toffee hammer. The idea is to show younger consumers how toffee was enjoyed in years gone by. Also new from Walkers is mint toffee in 150g bags, or 1kg and 2.5kg bulk packs for pick and mix.
Berries and cream is the latest variety from Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles. There’s a limited-edition single tube as well as a permanent edition sharing bag. Each bag contains strawberry & cream, raspberry & cream and blackberry & cream sweets.
New to the UK are Chupa Chups Airheads chewy fruit flavoured candies. Each 50g pack contains lemon, blueberry, strawberry, apple and orange sweets. R&B singer Tallia Storm (above) is the ’face’ of the new sweets in the UK.
Bonds Confectionery has launched £1 priced-marked packs of favourites from its Sweet Shop range. These include blue raspberry bon bons, chocolate raisins, chocolate limes and mint imperials.
Swizzels is launching a 10p Refresher Rope in original lemon and strawberry flavours. The stretchy rope has a fondant centre.

seven sweet tips

1 Visibility is key and popular confectionery items should be located at eye level to take advantage of incremental sales.
2 Availability is crucial remember to re-stock each morning and prior to peak traffic times. A fully stocked display will help maximise your profit potential and guarantee repeat visits from your local customers.
3 To ensure shoppers are aware of the choice and range on offer, it is important to keep a clear and tidy confectionery display this will also make re-stocking quicker and easier.
4 Encourage additional purchases cross-category promotions, such as ’buy a sandwich, drink and confectionery for £3’ will help achieve this.
5 Rotate stock regularly so that older stock is sold through first.
6 To help raise sales and capitalise on early consumer demand, it’s vital that you champion new products in store.
7 Make the most of your confectionery display by using eye-catching pos material to encourage customers to buy on impulse.
Source: Wrigley