All the major manufacturers seem to be turning their attention to the sugar stuff, which is great news for forecourt retailers. This is because, firstly, sugar confectionery gives them a higher profit margin than chocolate, and secondly, many consumers prefer sugar products when they are travelling, especially with kids in the car, as they’re usually far less messy.

Sugar sales grew by 2.7 per cent last year to reach £1.52bn. According to Mike Tipping, head of customer relations at Cadbury Trebor Bassett, 5.9 per cent of sugar confectionery consumed out of the home is purchased from forecourts. He says: “Confectionery is the most impulsive snack category and more than half of all sugar confectionery consumption is bought on impulse. Forecourts need to position confectionery where it is clearly visible to the consumer.”

He also advises that retailers need to be aware of key consumption times for sugar confectionery. “The largest consumption of sugar confectionery comes between 3pm and 4pm with mid-morning also a popular time. However, specific mint consumption peaks are clearly seen between 2pm and 3pm. Consumers prefer to shop from a full display, so the key is to ensure both the main fixture and additional off-fixture displays are fully merchandised during these busy periods to avoid losing out on sales.”

CTB has been working with forecourt operators including Shell, Esso and Texaco to build confectionery sales. One of its aims is to put a greater focus on hanging bags. These are a big seller in forecourts as a family-share line, and are good news for retailers as they’re obviously a more expensive purchase than a single tube of sweets.

Peter Cantwell, managing director of Lion Confectionery agrees that bags are good for business: “Our research shows that one of the most popular uses for bagged confectionery is in-car consumption. Drivers keep products such as Lion’s Sports Mixture in their glovebox to alleviate boredom and focus attention during long journeys.”


There’s so much activity in the sugar confectionery category that it’s hard to keep up. This is typical of this time of year – the weather gets warmer and demand for chocolate cools off so the sugar manufacturers fire off loads of activity.

Two major brands are taking the fruit route this summer. Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts are available without the liquorice and renamed Bassett’s Fruit Allsorts while Smarties are available without the chocolate and renamed Fruity Smarties. The attraction for kids is that the colour on the outside of each Fruity Smartie does not correspond with the flavour inside.

Nestlé Rowntree describes the sweets as “fun and innovative” and reckons they will be the most talked about sweets of the year. Fruity Smarties come in a resealable impulse carton, rrp 35p, and a hanging bag, rrp £1.05. The launch is backed by a £4m spend, which will include a new TV campaign. In addition, a range of point of sale material will be available to help retailers make the most of the launch.

The Bassett’s Fruit Allsorts’ launch was prompted by the on-going success of Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts and will be backed by a £2m media campaign throughout 2004, together with sampling to encourage consumer trial.

Another sweet to be given a new treatment is Skittles, which is now available in gum form. There are five fruit flavours in each pack: strawberry, orange, lemon, apple and blackcurrant. Aimed at 12-17-year-olds, the gum comes in a flip-top box, rrp 35p.

Meanwhile, Fruittella has two new lines with adults in mind. The company behind the brand, Parfetti Van Melle, has found that creamy tastes are becoming very popular with adults and so has launched the Fruittella Cream Bag containing creamy fruit chews. Then there’s the Fruittella Strawberry Mix bag, which contains the brand’s popular strawberry chew plus a new one made with real fruit pulp.

Forecourt retailers should not only be looking at new lines but existing top-sellers that are backed by TV advertising. One such line is Werther’s Original, which was launched back in 1992 but since then has consistently been a top 10 ranking brand and is now worth more than £23m. The brand is getting a sales boost this year via a £4m advertising campaign – the biggest ad spend in its history.


Many forecourts are within walking distance of a school so count kids as a customer group. But even if you don’t have a school nearby you’ll get cars full of kids pulling up, with mums and dads picking up sweets to keep them quiet.

Novelty lines – those that combine a sweet with a toy – are always a favourite. Novelty manufacturer Sweet Cred says it has had a “phenomenally successful year” in forecourts.

Marketing manager Samantha Kellard comments: “Sweet Cred products are often an impulse purchase for forecourt customers as they make an ideal treat for kids. They satisfy the hankering for sweeties the kids all have and they have a quality toy to keep them amused on a boring trip. All for £1.49.”

She recommends that retailers take advantage of all available point of sale material. “Our products are supplied in brightly coloured display boxes and the motif of the Sweet Cred gang creates in-store theatre. We can also supply eye-catching free-standing displays as a point of sale solution.”

As for the products themselves, they range from ‘candy cuties’ which are irresistible to younger girls, through to foam shooting guns and spray candy pens.

Pez, the candy sweets in a novelty dispenser, remain popular because they are highly collectable. There are two new ranges for summer, both of which tie in with film releases. Spider-Man2 includes Spider-Man, the Hulk and Wolverine characters while Shrek2 includes Shrek, Fiona and Donkey.

Helmut Mager, managing director of Haribo says: “The new lines will refresh the appeal of the Pez range by providing topical new characters for children to collect. We regularly update the line-up so that people can keep adding to their collections. Whenever we can we introduce topical characters that feature in high profile films so that children know them well and relate to them.”

Each Pez dispenser comes with two refills and is available in a range of flavours including strawberry, lemon, orange and cherry. Rrp is 99p. Six-pack refills are available for 59p.

Meanwhile, soft drink brand Vimto is going down a storm in its confectionery version. McCowan’s sells over 20 million Vimto chew bars each year at 10p a time but is now launching a bigger 36g version which will retail at 20p. The chewy bar includes grape, blackcurrant and raspberry juices together with fruit extracts, herbs and spices. In addition to the new big chew bar, McCowan’s is also launching a 200g pre-pack of chewy Vimto flavour bon bons with a rrp of 99p.


Finally, forecourts shouldn’t overlook functional confectionery whether it’s medicated or mouth-freshening. When it comes to gum, Wrigley’s Extra is a must-stock brand but so are mints such as Tic Tac and Trebor. To maximise impulse purchases, these sorts of lines must be displayed by the till.

Recent product developments in the non-medicated mouth-freshing market include Masterfoods’ launch of AquaDrops in February. Since launch, AquaDrop sales in the forecourt sector are worth £276,275, and make up 7.9 per cent of the total ‘non medicated purposeful sugar market’.

However much space you have for confectionery in your store make sure sugar lines get a decent share. Not everyone wants chocolate all of the time – especially in the summer, when mouth-watering fruits and refreshing mints really come into their own.