Store Brands

APR 2016

Store Brands delivers unprecedented strategic and tactical information needed by retail executives to develop and support compelling, differentiated store brand programs to build customer loyalty.

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Category Intelligence: Candy and Chocolate 6 8 Store Brands / April 2016 / Strike a balance Give the sweet tooth its due, but let the health halos shine. By Dana Cvetan mericans continue to worry about their health, and candy's no health food. However, indulgence is an important part of life, and retailers could profit by adjusting both the product and the message when it comes to own- brand candy and chocolate. "Even though there's a lot of press about sugar and obesity, the consumer continues to want to self-indulge. For many [that means] maintaining a healthy-versus-indulgence balance," says Barry Rosenbaum, president of Hicksville, N.Y.-based Nassau Candy. But Virgil Rubini, vice president of Axenta Intertrade Corp., Montreal, agrees that a "gray shadow" now hangs over sugar. "And yet, candy is not going away," he says. "We focus on the pleasure of candy and how it makes people happy." Better-for-you rules One of the most influential trends within the candy and chocolate segment is toward products with more healthful attributes, particularly in chocolate, Rosenbaum observes. "Anything with a nut in it — almonds being the best example — is a hot topic," he says. "Dark chocolate is a hot topic." Chocolate with fruit, as well as non-GMO chocolate and candy, are also increasingly popular. "We're seeing double-digit growth in our chocolate business by focusing on these trends," Rosenbaum declares. Interest in natural and more healthful products has grown because consumers want to both indulge and feel good about indulging, says Tina Lamontagne, vice president of sales for Sherbrooke, Quebec-based Chocolat Lamontagne Inc. Chocolat Lamontagne combines natural fruits such as blueberry, acai-blueberry, pomegranate, mango and cranberry with dark chocolate. The shelf-stable confections contain no added sugar, as well as no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. "Anything that is delicious and/or healthy, companies will cover in chocolate," says Mike Dion, broker for West Hempstead, N.Y.-based wholesaler ABS Marketing Group LLC, and a 24- year veteran of The Hershey Co. "We are seeing a growing trend in chocolate-covered fruit" such as cherries and cranberries, he adds. "Bean to bar," using better-quality and better- controlled cocoa beans for higher-quality chocolate, is another important trend, says Jeffrey Luidvinovsky, CEO of Loco Brands, Hollywood, Fla. Related to that trend is the single-origin or single-farm trend — harvesting from a specific area/region and not mixing that harvest with cocoa beans from other regions. "We have our own single-origin, single-farm chocolate bar," Luidvinovsky adds. Consumers also are asking companies to be clear about what's in the product. They want fewer artificial ingredients and higher percentages of cocoa, Rubini says. But candy is still about fun, reminds Alan Skorski, president of ABS Marketing Group, distributors of Megaload and private label candy. "Today, funky combinations are the wave. We Do consider the health and wellness trend in own-brand chocolate and candy development.

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