Less fat, less sugar and more fruit juice. That basically sums up what’s going on in the sugar confectionery market. So we have Maynards Wine Gums Light with 50% less sugar than the standard line, and Haribo Lite, which is a selection of fruit-flavoured, fruit-shaped gums which have 30% fewer calories and 40% less sugar than standard gums. You can see why manufacturers are keen to jump on the healthy bandwagon when you look at Mintel statistics that state sales of healthier confectionery products have grown by 40% since 2001, and are now worth around £400m.

The biggest news in healthier confectionery however is probably the launch of The Natural Confectionery Company (TNCC) range in the UK via Cadbury Trebor Bassett. According to AC Nielsen data, the range is currently the number-one selling sugar family bag brand in Ireland and is a top performer in Australia and New Zealand. As its name suggests, the products contain no artificial colours or flavours. The range is targeted at parents looking for more permissible treats for their family.

Kate Harding, Cadbury Trebor Bassett’s acting head of customer relations, comments: "The ingredients are sure to resonate well with parents and the great taste, fun shapes and bright pack designs will certainly appeal to younger generations. The distinctive packaging will also ensure the range will have great stand out at fixture."

The six variants are: Party Jellies; Jelly Dinosaurs; Jelly Snakes; Forbidden Fruit; Jelly Squirms and Jelly Unbearables. Rrp is £1.39 for a 180g bag and the launch is supported by a £1m marketing campaign.

There have been press reports that Nestlé too is launching a healthier range but the company is not commenting at this time.

Meanwhile confectionery cash and carry chain Hancocks has added a ’lite’ range of sweets to its weighout offer. These contain 30% fewer calories, 40% less sugar and less than 0.1% fat per 100g. Packed in 1kg bags, the products include wine gums, jelly bears, cola bottles and fruit salad.

Per Henérius, managing director of Haribo, believes that 2007 will be a challenging year for confectionery, not only because of the continuing debate about healthy eating, but also the implementation of the Ofcom advertising regulations. This may put the brakes on new product development in the confectionery sector because it will make it more difficult for manufacturers to gain awareness for new brands.

"The new Ofcom regulations prohibiting confectionery companies advertising on TV to under-16s will be introduced during 2007," he explains. "Haribo has moved ahead of the deadline and has already adopted the new advertising guidelines but we have the benefit of being an established brand. The inability to use TV advertising to establish a new brand among younger consumers will make it much more difficult for new products to gain a foothold in the marketplace and as a result the existing big brands will continue to grow and get bigger."

Meanwhile Henérius reckons the biggest general trend in confectionery is the switch to products that do not use artificial colours. Haribo has responded to this via new product launches and by reviewing the recipes of its existing brands. Since 2006 the company has been removing artificial colours from its gums and jellies and by the end of the year all of them will have changed over to non-artificial colours. He says: "Quality, however, remains the most important factor and in making the changes we have had to ensure we didn’t compromise the established taste credentials which have made these brands so popular with consumers. When adapting the recipes it has been imperative to ensure the sweets look and taste as good as they always have, which is why it has taken us some time to make the switch across our portfolio."

Rowntree’s was one of the first fruit confectionery brands to move to no artificial colours and flavours back in 2005. Now Nestlé Rowntree has announced that it is increasing the amount of real fruit juice used to make Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums and Jelly Tots to 25%.

Graham Walker, Nestlé UK trade communications manager, says extensive consumer testing revealed that the move would appeal to all purchasers and consumers - to parents who are becoming increasingly health aware and are looking for more permissible treats for their children, as well as for teens and adults purchasing for themselves.

In addition, all of the Rowntree’s packaging has been redesigned and carries a ’now with 25% fruit juice’ flash. Plus Nestlé Rowntree is adding to the range with the launch of a Juicy Jellies hanging bag. The jellies, which come in blackcurrant, strawberry, lime and orange flavours, contain no artificial colours and flavours and will also be made with 25% real fruit juice.

"With an increasing number of shoppers looking for more permissible treats, Rowntree’s is setting the benchmark for fruit confectionery by using 25% fruit juice, plus no artificial colours or flavours," says Walker.

== Best seller ==

CTB’s Harding says Maynards is now the best-selling sugar confectionery brand in forecourts, with wine gums the most popular line, accounting for 13% of sugar bag sales, worth £1.5m through forecourts and growing at 5.5% year on year. Bassett’s too is popular in forecourts with sales worth £950,000 and Bassett’s Allsorts and Jelly Babies the two best-selling lines.

Bassett’s Allsorts have just been relaunched with a new recipe, which boasts natural colours and flavours and a pack redesign. The relaunch is backed by a £3m outdoor advertising campaign designed to ’shake up and wake up’ the category.

Harding says bags are big business: "Sugar bags are a prime category with families out and about in the car during the summer months, so now is the time to ensure that your store is fully stocked and that products are displayed in the right place."

She adds that dual features have been proven to deliver big sales increases in sugar bags within forecourts, particularly if merchandised within a high-footfall area of the store.

"Positioning hanging bags near large block chocolate provides a total sharing option for in-car or take-home. Main brands, like Bassett’s and Maynards, can sign-post the sugar confectionery category and should be used to aid shoppers’ navigation of the fixture."

Meanwhile Rowntree’s enjoyed value growth of 14% in sharing bags in 2006. Nestlé Rowntree hopes sales will be boosted this year following the launch of the Rowntree’s Pick & Mix bag, which contains Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums and Tooty Frooties.

Polo too is available in sharing bags. Polo original and Polo sugar free come in pouch-style bags with a resealable zipper, that are designed to sit in car cup holders. Such convenience is vital as consumers demand easy-to-use products in all areas of their lives.

With regard to sweets, Haribo’s Henérius says: "People are looking for something they can eat on the move. Unwrapped sweets mean they don’t have to fiddle around unwrapping confectionery when they are driving. And this is why bags of gums and jellies do so well in forecourts - not only the family-size bags for sharing. We’re also noticing significant uplifts in the single portion 10p and 25p bags. The reasons are two-fold - if everyone in the car has their own pack it’s convenient as it saves handing a bag around, and it also prevents squabbles as everyone can choose their favourite."


=== Sweet bites ===

? Wrigley’s new Hubba Bubba Glob is now the second-fastest selling bubblegum line in independents. It is a liquid-filled bubble gum in strawberry and apple flavours. Rrp is 25p.

? The Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles brand, which recently sponsored the successful Britain’s Got Talent show on ITV1, is currently sponsoring America’s Got Talent on ITV2.

? New Starburst Choozers are backed by a £2.3m TV advertising campaign as well as sampling and PR. In addition, the original Starburst fruit chew line has new packaging with the message ’Bursting with real fruit juice’. Stickpacks also feature a new foil wrap for improved resealability.

? Werther’s Original is backed by a £4m TV campaign during 2007. In addition, following its success as a limited edition, Butter Mints is now a permanent line. The Werther’s brand will be running promotional activity throughout the year such as 33% extra free on 150g packs and 3+1 on rollpacks. For retailers there is a prize draw taking place in more than 150 cash and carries nationwide which gives them the chance to win DVD players and rentals.

? Hancocks Cash & Carry has revamped its share-bag sweets to give a more premium, grown-up feel to the range. Products in the 275g line-up include wine gums, fruity caramels and jelly babies. The company says the retail price of £1 is extremely competitive.


=== Forecourt Facts ===

? 60% of confectionery bought in forecourts is purchased as a treat.

? The ’confectionery as a treat’ theory is further illustrated by the fact that most of it is bought between 5pm and 10pm, presumably as a reward after a hard day.

? In 2006, 21% of consumers went into a forecourt intending to buy confectionery and 23% actually bought some, underlining the impulse nature of the category.

? 12% of forecourt staff believe that there could be better confectionery availability on their site.

? When asked to name categories that were difficult to manage, 36% of forecourt staff said confectionery.

? More than one in five staff thought confectionery was too expensive in their stores.

Source: Him/CTP 2007


=== Retailer view ===

Billy Potter, Hillfoot Auto Supplies, Glasgow:

"Chocolate sales always slow down in the summer when shoppers go for sweets or other snacks. But chewing gum is a good seller all year round - we sell a lot of Juicy Fruit.

Confectionery is an important category in the shop because it really sells itself and you can achieve good margins on it. People always come in, pick up a bottle of Coke and some sweets.

They’re not really bothered about the price - they don’t know how much the recommended retail price is on a packet of sweets and as long as you don’t abuse it, you can make quite a mark up.

Haribo’s a big seller all year around too, plus they do some good seasonal lines for things like Halloween and people buy these for parties.

We’ve got the new Maynards Wine Gums Light in right now and they’re selling well - some people have said they actually prefer them to the standard ones."