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Q&A: Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s Menyhart discusses category innovation

BY DSN STAFF

In fall 2016, Mars brought together its chocolate and Wrigley segments under Mars Wrigley Confectionery in an effort to better deliver innovative products that address consumer desires and insights. Since then, the division has been busy. In 2017 alone, Mars Wrigley Confectionery has brought beloved U.K. brand Maltesers to the United States, introduced the now-permanent M&M’s Caramel variety — as well as several new varieties and flavors of its biggest brands — and redesigned several of its brands’ packaging.

Drug Store News caught up with Mars Wrigley Confectionery VP of category leadership Tiffany Menyhart to discuss the biggest trends on which the company is looking to deliver— including efforts to literally spice up some of its top brands — and how it’s satisfying shoppers’ cravings while upping its better-for-you efforts.

DSN: A defining feature of several new launches from Mars Wrigley Confectionery this year is new filling and textures — how is this an effort to meet consumer demand and how Mars Wrigley Confectionery stay on top of constantly changing consumer trends?

Tiffany Menyhart: Mars Wrigley Confectionery focuses our innovation on bringing the new flavors and formats consumers are seeking to the iconic brands they love. We’re also able to figure out the best way to bring these new products to life through our extensive global research. This research drives our category leadership across products and how we monitor and track trending flavors outside our own category. We’ve found that consumers are excited to try new flavors from brands they already know and love and are creating surprising twists and experiences from our most popular brands.

The spicy trend is here to stay, with 80% of consumers nodding to spicy foods and treats as a flavor they enjoy. To tap into this trend and build off the momentum of Wrigley fruity confections consumption, which is outpacing the category, we will roll out Skittles Sweet Heat and Starburst Sweet Heat later this year.

Another trend we’re seeing is consumers’ desire for new textures; it’s resulted in the creation of a new ‘crispy crunchy’ segment within the chocolate category. To meet this demand, we’re introducing Maltesers candies to U.S. consumers. It’s the No. 1 bite-sized chocolate brand in the United Kingdom and has a crispy, airy center wrapped in a smooth, chocolaty covering. Last year, we launched Snickers Crisper and M&M’S Crispy Candies.

When consumers indulge, they seek a multi-texture experience that M&M’S Caramel Chocolate Candies deliver. After years of development, M&M’S Brand now has the proprietary technology to enter the soft and chewy category partition with the launch of M&M’S Caramel Chocolate Candies. Caramel is the fourth-largest flavor partition within the chocolate category. M&M’S Caramel will become a permanent item, and is a long-term strategic addition to the M&M’S brand portfolio.

DSN: Consumers have increasingly been looking for better-for-you options and transparency in ingredients. How are your new offerings looking to balance that better-for-you inclination with the desire to indulge?

Menyhart: Mars Wrigley Confectionery is committed to providing better-for-you choices for consumers that satisfy their needs. … While today all of our chocolate products are no more than 250 calories per serving, when we launch new products we are making the shift to provide more options below 200 calories per serving. Our newest iterations of the classic M&M’S and Snickers — M&M’s Crispy, M&M’S Pretzel and Snickers Crisper — are less than 200 calories per pack. Earlier this year, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, along with Nestle, Lindt, Ferrara Candy and Ferrero, announced their commitments to making half of their individually wrapped products 200 calories or less by 2022, and labeling calories on the front of packaging.

Based on the success of our 100-calorie portfolio in chocolate, we are extending those [insights] into fruity confections and launching 100-calorie packs for Starburst and Skittles, both top fruity confections brands. This is another way Mars Wrigley Confectionery is driving category growth in all channels; this was an unmet shopper need that is bringing new shoppers into the category as they seek lower-calorie options.

DSN: As we move into the second half of the year, what product campaigns, launches and efforts are Mars Wrigley Confectionery most looking forward to?

Menyhart: A big focus is helping retailers understand how consumers are feeling and behaving while shopping and translating that into effective merchandizing and sales of popular categories, [such as] confections. We’re continuing to evolve our Transaction Zone Vision program, and incorporating the latest shopping technology and platforms to create an entirely new checkout experience that helps drive incremental sales at touchpoints throughout the store.

As [we] further develop this program, we’re excited at the possibility to help retailers rethink the total store experience and stay ahead of the curve to drive sales in new ways.

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Kraft Heinz, Oprah partner on refrigerated foods line

BY David Salazar
 
PITTSBURGH and CHICAGO — Kraft Heinz’s latest line of products has a big name behind it. The company has teamed up with Oprah Winfrey to introduce O, That’s Good!, a line of four soups and four sides, the first product launch from Winfrey and Kraft Heinz’s Mealtime Stories joint venture company. 
 
The two parties worked with a team of chefs to develop the new refrigerated brand using real ingredients and no artificial flavors or dyes. In several of the offerings, vegetables partially substitute for other ingredients — for example, cauliflower in place of some potato and butternut squash in place of some cheese. 
 
“I love healthy foods and eating from my garden,” Winfrey said. “When Kraft Heinz approached me for a food line, what got my attention is making nutritious comfort foods more accessible to everyone. This product line is real, delicious food with a twist. You’ll feel good about serving it for your family.”
 
The line of soups includes baked potato, creamy butternut squash, broccoli cheddar and creamy tomato basil soup, and the line of savory sides includes original mashed potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, three cheese pasta and creamy parmesan pasta. 
 
“We are thrilled to bring our collective vision to life with O, That’s Good! Soups and Sides,” Kraft Heinz SVP marketing, innovation and research and development for the U.S. business Nina Barton said. “With Oprah’s partnership, we’re delivering unbeatable taste and quality that is sure to please everyone at the table.”
 
Ten percent of Mealtime Stories’ profits will be equally split between the charities Rise Against Hunger and Feeding America. The soups retail for $4.99 and the sides retail for $4.49. They are currently available in select grocery stores’ refrigerated section, and the company has planned a nationwide rollout for October. 
 

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Hy-Vee kicks off Clean Honest Ingredients effort

BY Vivian Lee

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — As part of its Clean Honest Ingredients label initiative, Hy-Vee plans to eliminate more than 200 artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals in 1,000 Hy-Vee label products by July 2018.

“Hy-Vee takes great care to provide our customers with authenticity and transparency when it comes to the products in our stores,” said Jeremy Gosch, Hy-Vee’s EVP strategy and chief merchandising officer. “As the demand increases for food products that contain natural, familiar and simple ingredients, we are doing our best to meet those expectations within our Hy-Vee label offerings.”

None of the Hy-Vee brand packaging is changing except for the addition of the Clean Honest Ingredients logo. The supermarket chain has already begun to roll out private-label food items bearing the logo, including ketchup, almond butter, tortilla chips and bottled tea. Hy-Vee is the latest retailer to jump on board this clean ingredients initiative, which seeks to remove high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors and partially hydrogenated oils from its own brand food products. CVS and Target have rolled out similar initiatives this year. Hy-Vee also placed high on the Greenpeace 2017 Tuna Shopping Guide.

Click here for a list of all 1,000 items scheduled to bear the Clean Honest Ingredients logo by July 2018

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