Sugar has beaten fat to become the nutrient consumers are most concerned about. Bad news for the sugar confectionery industry, you might think but according to Mintel’s latest sugar confectionery report, sweets are still doing okay as half of users think they are alright to eat in small amounts.

The research firm found that sweets are a popular treat, with near-universal usage at 78%. Their popularity peaks among women, the under-25s and parents, with just over a third of users eating sweets several times a week.

Mintel says that Haribo has retained its position as the top brand in the sugar confectionery market, thanks to product innovation and continuous advertising support. Its latest innovation takes the form of Haribo Frenzy, described as the brand’s most successful limited-edition campaign to date. It returns this summer with new flavour twists of Starmix and Tangfastics. Alison Satterthwaite, brand manager for Haribo UK, comments: "Haribo Frenzy brings together the top-selling credentials that we expect from the confectionery aisle popular treats alongside the excitement that new, limited editions deliver. It is a winning combination for both the retailer and the consumer."

Available now, Haribo Summer Frenzy editions come in a range of bag sizes including £1 price-marked packs as well as a new 70g bag price-marked at 50p.

Meanwhile, Mintel reports that Mondelez’s Maynards Bassetts masterbrand, launched in February 2016, led to it leaping into second position in the sugar confectionery market with a 10% share. Recent innovation from Mondelez includes the launch of Wine Gums Tangy in a bid to attract more adults to the sour segment. Then there’s a summer on-pack promotion that celebrates the brand and the nation’s unique personality by giving away bonkers prizes. The top three winners receive a pair of flights to New Zealand, complete with £2,000 spending money and possibly tickets to the Wacky Sheep Race event. In addition, convenience retailers have the chance to win one of six £100 Love2Shop vouchers by having a great ’Bonkers’ display in their store. For more information, retailers should visit

At Nestlé, the big news is the launch of 30% Less Sugar versions of Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and Randoms. Following an initial launch in Tesco, they are this month making their way into the wider market.

Nestlé is very keen to point out that the new 30% Less Sugar sweets are a very different product to its standard range, with a different recipe and alternative ingredients. Nestlé is also keen to state that the new products are a "new innovation" and do not form part of its previously announced 10% sugar reduction plan across its confectionery portfolio by 2018.

The sugar that’s been removed has been replaced by increasing the fibre content. And, as well as having 30% less sugar, the new products have fewer calories and remain free from artificial flavours, colours and sweeteners ensuring a 100% fruity flavour.

They are priced based on cost to manufacturer, meaning they cost more than the full-sugar versions. Forecourt Trader found that a 150g bag of regular Fruit Pastilles was being sold at £1.24 while a 110g bag of the 30% Less Sugar Pastilles was selling at the same price.

Nine thousand consumers sampled the new products as part of a large-scale blind taste test done via social media. Blank packaged product samples were sent out asking for feedback on the products using the hashtag #RowntreesTasteTest. The consumers didn’t know that the sweets were different to the regular Rowntree’s range. Nestlé says feedback had been overwhelmingly positive with consumers describing the sweets as ’juicy’, ’fruity’ and ’chewy’.

Dame Fiona Kendrick, chairman and CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland, says: "These new products will sit alongside our existing range and offer a real alternative for consumers. We have worked incredibly hard to create these brand new versions of our favourite sweets. There have been as many as 76 different versions of the recipe over two years of research and development to ensure that what we have ended up with is just as good as the full sugar products."

At Perfetti Van Melle (PVM) there are also some great sugar-free choices for consumers. Its Chupa Chups Sugar Free lollipops are available in three flavours: Cola, Cherry and Strawberry. Recently trialled on tour with You Tube sensation Dodie, these are expected to be popular with teens and families who are "embracing healthier choices". Rrp is 30p each or £1.49 for a pack of 10.

Then there are the completely sugar free Fruittella Fruit Foams and Fruit Gums, which PVM says are the first products of their kind. Mark Roberts, trade marketing manager at the firm, says: "With many customers coming into store actively looking for healthier treat options, Fruittella is providing retailers with the perfect solution; a great tasting sweet that’s a little bit better for them."

Fruittella 30% Less Sugar is available in Strawberry and Summer Fruits flavours. There are no artificial flavours, colourings or sweeteners in them; instead the new recipe replaces a proportion of sugar with fruit juice. Roberts says that during testing consumers scored them highly saying they tasted just as great as always, but the lower sugar content made them feel a little bit better about indulging.

Fresh sales

According to Mintel, mints remain the most popular type of sweets, thanks to their breath-freshening credentials. And, while they’re most popular among 16-24-year-olds, mints also enjoy the highest usage by over-55s of any type of sweet.

Nielsen data values the total mint segment of confectionery at £147m with Trebor the number one brand, worth over £50m. Brand owner Mondelez says the Trebor range meets both consumer need states of refreshment and confidence through its range of extra strong, soft and sugar free mints.

Last summer, Trebor Mighties was added to the range, which Mondelez says delivers a "punchy kick of refreshment".

Over at Nestlé, the Polo range was recently boosted with the launch of Polo Pots recyclable plastic pots containing 44 mints, available in the three best-selling varieties: Original, Sugar Free and Sugar Free Extra Strong. Rrp is £1.49.

The pots are easy to open and close, and keep the product protected inside. They also offer convenience for consumers on-the-go as they fit nicely in a car holder, or are handy to keep on a desktop. For retailers, they are a great trade-up opportunity.

Nestlé says this latest launch comes on the back of a successful 2016 for the Polo brand. Originally launched in 1948, the brand is now worth over £32m. Its sales value has grown 2.8% in the past year (versus a category which declined by 3.5% IRI data) after it benefited from a full brand redesign.

Sales of Polo Sugar Free have been particularly strong, up 10.7% year-on-year (IRI). It is the number one sugar-free mint brand in the market.

Extra sales

Chewing gum sales are down according to Mintel by 5%. It’s quite a surprise when you think about the product’s benefits. It’s well known for its breath-freshening attributes as well as the fact that it helps fight tooth decay. And Mintel’s research has found that many users believe it helps them to reduce snacking and makes them less likely to give in to the temptation of treats.

Only 28% of people consume chewing or bubblegum but many of them chew it daily. Gum consumption peaks among women and under-25s and Mintel found that it was these users who were more likely to think that chewing gum helped them to reduce snacking.

Wrigley is undoubtedly the brand leader in gum. New formats have been key in its success most notably bottles and resealable bags.

The Extra sugar-free gum bottle range was recently expanded to include Cool Breeze 60 pellet bottles. And there is a new £2 Extra price-marked 46-pellet bottle available in Peppermint and Spearmint.

Julio Guijarro, marketing director at Wrigley, says: "For retailers, the launch of the new price-marked bottle will help to improve rate of sale, as purchase intent in the gum category has been shown to significantly decline when priced above £2."

Also available is an innovative in-car gum holder, ideal for selling in forecourt stores. It was developed after Wrigley identified in-car consumption as a clear growth opportunity.

Another on-the-go line is the Extra resealable 21-piece hanging bag. Available in Peppermint and Spearmint, price-marked versions are available at £1.

Obviously Wrigley is not the only company to make gum. PVM is updating its Mentos White gum range with a new fliptop format. Available in three sugar-free flavours (Peppermint, Spearmint and Bubble Fresh), Mentos Fliptop Gum comes in brightly coloured packs guaranteed to stand-out on the shelf and catch shoppers’ attention. Each 60p box contains 15 non-filled round chewing gum pieces which is 50% more pieces than the closest competitor for a similar price.

At the same time, Mentos has added a new fruity mint flavour to its popular bottle format. Designed specifically to appeal to a younger audience, Bubble Fresh is a sugar-free gum in an eye-catching pink and white bottle.

Summer sharing with Swizzels

With the summer holidays fast approaching, families will be looking for snacks and treats to share during days out.
Mark Walker, sales director at Swizzels, points to recent research by Dipsticks, which found that 76% of respondents said they buy sweets for a journey or outing and he says larger sharing bags are perfect for this.
Swizzels, which has experienced 14% growth year-on-year (IRI data), has the answer with its Variety packs range. "Variety packs are perfect for families and friends to share during the summer months. Swizzels packs not only offer a variety of our most popular products but also give great value for money both of which are key purchasing motivators for shoppers.
"Our Bumper Bag, Lots of Lollies and Chew Crew variety bags are hugely popular with shoppers looking for individually wrapped sweet treats to share during days out or summer parties and barbecues," explains Walker.
Another big sales winner for Swizzels is its Squashies range, which sees classic and much-loved sweets ’squashified’ into softer foam gum versions.
Currently 50 bags of Squashies are sold every minute in the UK and the brand is in its fifth consecutive year of growth, with 77% growth year-on-year (IRI data).
As well as the Refreshers Lemon and Strawberry and Drumstick Milk and Raspberry flavours, the range has recently been extended to include Drumstick Bubblegum and Sour Cherry and Apple flavours.

Retailer view

"Polo mints are probably our strongest seller in sugar confectionery and then wine gums. Other than that it’s whatever’s on offer; Haribo sells especially well when it’s on promotion."
Elaine’s experience tallies with Mintel research which found that promotions give many consumers "a good excuse to buy sweets", with sweets on a temporary promotion more appealing than an everyday low price.
"We haven’t any schools nearby and so we don’t get many kids in, which is probably why sugar confectionery is not a great seller for us," she explains.
"However, we do have chewing gum by the till and everyone seems to buy that. The best sellers are the Wrigley 10-piece packs of Extra Peppermint and Airwaves."

£1m investment for £onepounders

Golden Casket, famous for its £onepounders brand, has invested more than £1m in a new gum plant. Production director Crawford Rae explains the thinking behind it: "Due to the pricing wars on gums and jellies, the consumer has certainly experienced lower prices but the cost has been on quality, due to the starch-filled recipes with poor texture being all that’s available in the market. We wanted to turn the clock back and experience the old fashioned wine gum with firm texture, created with quality only in mind, the very best of ingredients coupled with old fashioned stoving techniques that have long since been replaced with other faster processing methods.
"With high set up costs of over a £1m, our payback is certainly longer term but when you experience the quality of the finished products, the hard work on development over the last two years has certainly been worth it. This latest addition to our portfolio makes us one of the top, most diverse, completely independent confectionery manufacturers in the country."

Hubba Bubba rolls out more tapes

Wrigley has added two new flavours to its Hubba Bubble Bubble Tape range.
Exclusive to the cash and carry trade, independents and symbol groups, Cola and Fancy Fruit Bubble Tapes are available now.
The company says both Cola and Fancy Fruit have a proven track record of performing well in other countries, it expects them to drive category growth in the UK, building on the continued strong growth of Hubba Bubba Snappy Strawberry Bubble Tape.
The 180cm tape retails at 92p. It comes in the popular clamshell packaging which, in addition to protecting the gum, also helps dispense and cut it.
Claire Domoney, brand manager at Wrigley, says: "The bubblegum flavour of the Fancy Fruit product is the most incremental flavour in the gum category after mint and represents a huge sales opportunity for retailers. We know gum is highly impulsive so make sure you keep a fully stocked display to maximise your profit potential and guarantee repeat visits."

Crazy Candy update

Hancocks is relaunching its Crazy Candy Factory brand. Its aim is to double its value in the next 12 months by creating a more uniform and, as such, more recognisable, image for the brand.
In addition to the 49 existing and 38 improved products, there are 24 new ones including: Big Dipper two-in-one lollipop and sherbet; Sports Flickerz, which combines a sports game with a fruit lollipop; Fruitee Squeezee, an American-inspired product comprising a small squeezy bottle of strawberry or blue raspberry fruit flavoured candy gel with a plastic cap; Twisterz, a two-in-one sherbet and candy spray; and Mega Bubblegum Roll, a 1.8m long roll of bubblegum gum. Profit margins for the products are all at around the 30% mark.