ATLANTA — Multiple flavors, textures and colors add a modern spin to classic candy brands including Now and Later, SweeTarts and Laffy Taffy. “Poppability” and “sensory excitement” are among key trends driving product development at Ferrara Candy Co., Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
“We are unleashing the full potential of these businesses to connect with consumers and to connect with our customers to make sure we drive the right assortment with the right brands with the right innovation and breakthrough communication,” said Greg Guidotti, general manager of the sugar portfolio at Ferrara Candy Co.
With $3 billion in annual revenues, Ferrara Candy Co. holds the No. 1 position in seasonal confections and the No. 2 position in sugar confections. The company presented several upcoming product launches at the National Association of Convenience Stores’ 2019 NACS Show, held Oct. 1-4 in Atlanta.
Now and Later Morphs is an assortment of chewy candies featuring flavors that transform from cherry to mango, lemon lime to strawberry, grape to watermelon and blue raspberry to lemon. Laffy Taffy Laff Bites are unwrapped, candy-coated taffy bites in cherry, strawberry, green apple and blue raspberry flavors.
“This proposition is exciting because it’s taffy in that poppable form,” Mr. Guidotti told Food Business News. “It’s multitexture. It’s multisensorial because it’s taffy with a shell.”
The SweeTarts brand is expanding its soft and chewy ropes product line with twisted rainbow ropes, which have a fruit punch flavor and a swirl of vibrant hues. Another addition is twisted mixed berry ropes bites, which blends three tangy berry flavors in each bite.
“The rainbow ropes have a sweet and tart profile, multiple flavors, multiple colors,” Mr. Guidotti said. “And it plays out further in ropes bites with the same multitexture and multisensorial but then, also poppable.”
A recently introduced marketing campaign for the SweeTarts brand is resonating strongly with Generation Z consumers, Mr. Guidotti said.
“We had been a flattish/down business, but three months ago, we were up 4%,” he said. “Two months ago, we were up 8%. In this latest month we were up 13%, and that’s on the total portfolio business, original, chewy and ropes. Ropes in and of itself are growing 30%. Very relevant. Very on-trend.”
Other new candy products on display at the show included Black Forest Juicy Bears, which are fruit juice-filled gummies, and Trolli Sour Brite Crunchy Crawlers, which feature fruity, sour gummy worms coated in a thin, crunchy shell.
“Crunchy Crawlers far and away is our biggest bet for next year,” Mr. Guidotti said. “Eighty-one per cent of consumers say they want to buy this product, and customers have been very excited…
“And it’s based on a brand, Trolli, that in the last five years has doubled in size. It’s one of the top 10 brands and one of the leading c-store brands within non-chocolate. A winning brand, winning proposition.”
Ferrara Candy Co. was formed in 2012 with the merger of Ferrara Pan Candy Co., Inc. and Farley’s & Sathers Candy Co., Inc. Its core portfolio of brands includes Trolli, Black Forest, Brach’s, Sathers, RedHots, Lemonheads, Jujyfruits, Atomic FireBall, Boston Baked Beans and several others.
In 2017, Ferrara Candy Co. was acquired by the Luxembourg-based Ferrero Group. A few months later, the Ferrero Group acquired Nestle USA’s confectionery business. The transaction added such non-chocolate brands as SweeTarts, Laffy Taffy, Nerds, FunDip, PixyStix, Gobstopper, BottleCaps, Spree and Runts to Ferrara Candy Co.’s portfolio. Nestle USA’s former chocolate brands, including Crunch, Butterfinger and Baby Ruth, are managed by Ferrero North America, based in Parsippany, N.J.
Earlier this year, the Ferrero Group acquired selected cookie, fruit snack, pie crust and ice cream cone businesses from Kellogg Co. Ferrara manages the acquired brand portfolio, which includes Keebler, Famous Amos, Mother’s and Murray cookies, as well as Little Brownie Bakers, supplier of cookies to the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Brands in the transaction also include Stretch Island and Fruit Snacks fruit-flavored snacks and Keebler’s ice cream cones and pie crust products.
“If you think about how we’ve reinvigorated the Nerds brand, the SweeTarts brand, you’ll see a similar thing happening across our cookie portfolio as well because they are great known, beloved equities that deserve love, and we’re going to give them that love to grow the category,” Mr. Guidotti said. “There are all kinds of inclusion opportunities in cookies. There are all kinds of stuff you can do with cones.”
Many of the brands in the Ferrara Candy Co. portfolio date back decades. The key to increasing relevance in these businesses is not necessarily through innovation, but through modern marketing moves.
“We’ve really turned on our social media presence, and we’re connecting,” Mr. Guidotti said. “For example, Kim Kardashian is a big fan of Applehead. She posted a picture of Applehead on her Instagram one day.”
Ferrara Candy Co. mailed the starlet a package of Appleheads, Lemonheads and Grapeheads candy.
“She responded with a one-minute video … with $5 million of value,” Mr. Guidotti said. “And it’s all organic and authentic.
“We’re really trying to tap into what makes our brands iconic and from a social perspective, from an e-commerce perspective and the treasure hunt element there, but also really working on different package forms. You’ll see a different package form of gift jars … throwback mason jars of RedHots, Lemonheads. It’s a way to reintroduce consumers in a relevant manner to our iconic brands. Because we aren’t going to innovate on an iconic brand as much because you want to remember it for what it is.”