Toxic Waste, Atomic FireBlast and Gum Powder can all be found on the shelves of the Murco garage in the Willesborough suburb of Ashford, Kent, and manager, Roberto Di Duca, says he can’t get enough of them. Of course they are not as bad as their names suggest, but are just the latest in a long line of kids’ sweets. Roberto says the 69p Brain Lickers are particularly popular: "They come in boxes of 12 and I sell between seven and eight boxes a week." Brain Lickers are described as a ’sour candy drink’ and delivered in a roll-on deodorant-style dispenser. The Murco garage is situated within yards of two large secondary schools and is also en route to several other schools. Roberto recently put in a 1m sugar confectionery display (six shelves deep), supplied by Bonds, right next to the till to satisfy the demands of the sweet-toothed children. This is home to dozens of gaudy novelty sweets with names like Mega Mouth candy spray, Snot Shots, Garbage Trolley and Fizz Bombs. Bonds supplies the bulk of the sweets but Roberto also goes to the Booker Cash & Carry depot in Folkestone to see what’s available. His wife Lucy is his secret weapon: "She comes with me and picks out what she thinks will sell and she’s always right," he says.
Bonds also supplies Roberto with two other display stands: 70g bags of sugar sweets, which sell for 39p each or three for £1; and 200g Sweetstars bags, which retail at 99p each.
Back to the aforementioned Toxic Waste, and this comes all the way from the US and is marketed over here by a company called Creative Candy. It is described as ’hazardously’ sour candy in a drum. These drums contain apple, watermelon, lemon, blue raspberry and black cherry super-sour candies. Rrp is 99p. Also available are Toxic Waste Pucker Sucker lollies, which come in a 100-count jar and retail at 10p each.
Another US brand is just available here, this time thanks to D&D Snacks. Called Mike and Ike, these are chewy, fruit-flavoured candies with names like fabulous fruits, berry blast and tropical typhoon. They come in eye-catching 55g packs, retailing at around 39p and are also available in family bags, retailing at around £1.25.
Mike and Ike sweets made their debut in the US in 1940 and since then have appeared regularly in films and TV shows. Celebrity fans include Will Smith and Steven Spielberg.
The UK launch will include heavyweight product sampling at pop concerts, sporting events, film premieres and award ceremonies.
Yet another overseas confectionery company breaking into the UK market is Fassini from the Netherlands. Available here from Thornycroft, the range comprises four individual brands: Scoubidou, Sputnix, Sour Snagx and Flexies. Scoubidou is a multi-coloured selection of chewy fruit liquorice strands. Bags contain red, green, blue and yellow strands in four flavours - strawberry, apple, blue raspberry and tutti frutti. Sputnix comes in three varieties. The strawberry and apple versions are fizzy, sugar-coated, tubes of fruit-flavour liquorice with a cream filling, while the banana version comprises a black liquorice outer filled with banana-flavoured cream. Sour Snagz is a bag full of chewy, fruity strips with a fizzy, sour sugar-coating. Finally, Flexies are soft and chewy, straw-berry-flavoured candy laces.
The sweets come in shelf-ready display cartons containing 12 x 150g bags, each with a rrp of 99p. For forecourts that have the space for off-shelf displays for family-size bags, Fassini-branded dumpbins and free-standing metal units that hold 150 hanging bags are available from wholesalers and cash and carries.
Andrew Walsh, chairman and managing director of Thornycroft says: "Family-size hanging bags are big sellers in forecourts and the popularity of this pack format has grown significantly over the past decade, but we feel the market has stalled recently in terms of innovation. What we believe we have got with Fassini is a new brand that will bring a fresh impetus to what has been one of the most dynamic growth areas in the sugar confectionery market."
Meanwhile, the existing UK sugar brands have been busy too. Cadbury Trebor Bassett (CTB) aims to drive sales this summer with another addition to its Allsorts range. New Bassett’s Dessert Allsorts have a soft texture and taste to appeal to women and contain flavours such as apple tart.
Mike Tipping, CTB’s head of customer relations, says: "The launch is set to emulate the huge success of Bassett’s Fruit Allsorts which is now worth £7.5m and is driving the confectionery market with 66% incremental sales."
Dessert Allsorts come in 200g bags, rrp £1.25. The launch will be supported by a £2m spend.
But Dessert Allsorts are not the only new sweet under the Bassett’s name, also available are new Bassett’s Party Babies. It is hoped the fun product will have ’mum appeal’ through its playful baby characters and natural ingredients. The sweets come in eight fruity flavours with no artificial colours or flavours. Party Babies come in 180g bags, rrp £1.25.
Meanwhile in mints, CTB is launching a new sugar-free product, Trebor Extra Cool. The company reckons it delivers the ’ultimate taste experience’ as it’s a translucent boiled mint, made from pure mint oil, with an extra cool centre.
Says Tipping: "Cadbury Trebor Bassett is committed to growing the mouth-fresh category. Trebor Extra Cool is a truly innovative product which will re-energise the sector and increase retailer profitability by offering consumers a truly unique product."
Trebor Extra Cool is available in peppermint and spearmint flavours, rrp 40p.The launch will be backed by press and outdoor advertising as well as sampling in key ’on the go’ locations such as the London underground and across forecourts nationwide.
Tipping says that for maximum impact Trebor Extra Cool should be sited at impulse positions in-store, next to the till, and alongside the current Trebor range.
Finally, last summer the Rowntree’s brand ’got real’, with the entire range switching to the use of real fruit juice and no artificial colours or flavours. Nestlé Rowntree says the initiative has been a success and reports that brand sales are up more than 9% year on year. This summer, the Rowntree’s brand is taking part in Nestlé Rowntree’s Kids Go Free promotion. Packs feature tokens that entitle kids to take part in taster sessions of one of five activities: swimming, tennis, danc-ing, bowling or martial arts. Two tokens are required for each activity. The promotion is supported by TV and radio advertising.
DON’T FORGET GUM
When it comes to sugar confectionery, chewing gum is one product you don’t want to overlook. That’s because it offers good profit margins from a relatively small sales space. In addition, research carried out by Wrigley has found that chewing gum is three times more likely to be bought on impulse than other confectionery or snacks. And typically consumers take no more than eight seconds to make their gum purchase, which is why it’s so important for retailers to keep fully stocked up with the best-selling lines. Those best sellers are Wrigley lines - sales of chewing gum reached £270m in 2005, with the Wrigley’s Extra brand worth £154m.
However Extra is not Wrigley’s only brand - the company is currently celebrating the success of Juicy Fruit, which has achieved sales growth of 34% year-on-year. The introduction of the strappleberry flavour in September 2004 and blueberry in September 2005 are said to have significantly contributed to the growth of the brand.