Flavor fusion gives candy favorites a boost

Sophisticated, multilayered flavors are driving the candy category across all segments of the business. Plain old vanilla is giving way to vanilla mint. Even lemonade—long a kid staple—is getting a boost with the addition of raspberry or strawberry.

Consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palates are fueling the trend. As Americans travel the globe, they bring back a taste for new flavors. Also at the root of the search for new products is an influx of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. “As Latin culture continues to meld with traditional U.S. culture, we get a new culture of mixed flavors, taste and product desires and experimentation,” said Jeffrey Joyner, chief executive officer of J. Joyner Group and Joyner Sales Agency.

“We’re seeing more and more Latin and Asian influences in confectionery and gum, such as mintmojito gum and chocolate with lemongrass,” said Jenn Ellek, a spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association. “Fruit and mint mixes are a big trend with gum manufacturers.” Tropical flavors, such as mango, papaya and key lime are popular not only with adults, but also with children.

“Gum companies like to leverage their sugar-free products—one of the fastest-growing segments in the category— by using new and unusual flavor combinations in an effort to attract particular demographics, build a bigger consumer base and gain more market share,” Ellek said.

New flavor combinations for the Trident Splash line of gum include pairing apple with raspberry, strawberry with lime and peppermint with vanilla. Trident also recently launched a MellonBurst flavor.

Jelly Belly also has introduced bags of its flavorful beans that can be mixed together to create such recipes as hot fudge sunday or apple pie a la mode.

Since new item releases in the last two years account for more than 25 percent of retail sales in confectionery, it’s important that manufacturers keep exploring new flavor profiles to keep their audience interested.

The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. is taking the new flavor trend one strep further with 5, a sugar-free stick gum that combines long-lasting flavors with invigorating sensations the company claims consumers can “feel as they chew.”

Touted as a “new gum experience,” 5 is available in rain (a tingling spearmint flavor), cobalt (a cooling peppermint flavor) and flare (a warming cinnamon flavor). Wrigley’s chief marketing officer Martin Schlatter said the new brand testing went well with teens, who are “constantly seeking opportunities to experience something out of the ordinary.”

Younger consumers may be driving new flavor trends, but the entire category is affecting consumers’ desire for new and interesting flavors. “While kids and novelty candy are segments that are most adventurous with flavor pairings and intensities, even traditional seasonal items, such as candy canes and holiday mints, have adopted new fruit or spice flavors to products that have been the same for decades,” Ellek said. Joyner said hard candies, jellies, kid candies and products with a hard sugar shell should see more exotic flavors going forward.

The trend also is having an impact on the chocolate category. “There’s always some fruit trend going on in the category, but we’re seeing more of a health and wellness trend in some of the fruit flavors,” said Mary Ellen Kuhn, editor of Confectioner magazine. “Rainforest flavors, such a goji berry and acai, have a certain cachet with upscale consumers. Kuhn expects that trend to trickle down to the mass market.

Superfruit flavors, such as blueberry, pomegranate and cranberry, are making their way into chocolate products and Kuhn says other categories can expect to see more of these flavors, valued for their antioxidant properties, showing up in other segments of the category, as well.

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