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sweet & healthy [June 9, 2010]

June 9, 2010
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By Bernard Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry
pacyniakb@bnpmedia.com

getting fresh: Lean manufacturing, onshoring and 'good news'

Given the negative business news that everyone’s faced during the past year, it’s not unusual to be drawn to a headline such as “Manufacturing Can Be Competitive in the United States.” Unlike many of the countless e-mails I receive daily, this one didn’t get deleted automatically. I opened the file, scanned the attachment and then saved the article for future perusal.  

Written by business consultants John Kemp and Charles Mouranie, the article notes that of the $580 billion received in business tax revenues in 2008, $90 billion comes from the manufacturing sector.

As the two scribes state, “That’s more than the tax revenues from the retail and communications industries combined.”

The reference here wasn’t to rant about government taxation -- there’s plenty of that already out there. Rather, it was to point out that the manufacturing sector is a critical cog of the economy.Faced with higher labor and healthcare costs, stricter environmental and regulatory mandates -- and, in the confectionery sector, higher ingredient costs -- many manufacturers have been forced to go “offshore” to expand production capacity while trying to stay profitable.

As much as we all might profess to buy American, we actually prefer to buy “cheap.” Hey, it’s human nature.

What Messieurs, Kemp and Mouranie say, however, is that “manufacturers who wish to stay at home and succeed here have the tools to do so.

“An increasing number of domestic manufacturers are countering the notion that one must turn to cheaper labor to reduce their expenses,” they write. “Instead, they have turned to lean manufacturing, which has increased their productivity, strengthened customer relationships and, most importantly, kept jobs at home. To top it off, they don’t have to worry about paying the skyrocketing transportation costs that come with shipping those foreign-made parts back to the United States.”

The two gentlemen go on to cite two non-confectionery examples that underscore the success of a lean manufacturing program -- one that emphasizes continuous improvement on the plant and warehouse floors as well as throughout the entire distribution chain.

During my travels to various large and midsized confectionery manufacturing companies, I’ve come across quite a few who’ve embraced this philosophy: Mars, Just Born, Jelly Belly, Farley’s & Sathers, and Spangler Candy Co., to name a few.

As globalization enters a more complicated phase, one whereby labor unrest and sustainability issues cloud the economics of offshoring, U.S. companies are being to rethink the paradigm. As a result, onshoring, or the movement to bring manufacturing back to the United States, has surfaced.

As Kris Maher explained in a March 12 Wall Street Journal article, “After a decade of rapid globalization, economists say companies are seeing disadvantages of offshore production, including shipping costs, complicated logistics and quality issues. Political unrest and theft of intellectual property pose additional risks.”

I don’t think anyone should interpret this as a rush by companies to pull up stakes and return to the homeland. There are legitimate reasons for having offshore manufacturing sites.

What Maher, Kemp and Mouraine are saying is that “made in the USA” need not be an anomaly. With inspired leadership, system-wide lean manufacturing practices, inbred quality and safety standards, employee buying and cooperative supplier partnerships, U.S. manufacturing can indeed return to prominence.

In many instances, it’s already happening within the confectionery industry. And that’s good news.

Lake Champlain Chocolates has 'Grace Under Fire'

Burlington, Vt.-based Lake Champlain Chocolates (LCC), maker of all-natural chocolates, has teamed up with a rock ‘n roll band for the first time in its 27-year history. Inspired by Vermont’s tradition of bold collaborations, LCC’s new spicy chocolate bar, “Grace Under Fire,” was created in conjunction with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals -- Vermont’s own critically acclaimed, international touring rock band.

Potter first approached the Burlington-based company with the idea to collaborate on a bar a couple of months ago, and it took off from there.

“We may be a rock ‘n roll band, but the Nocturnals and I take an unprecedented interest in all things food,” she says. “I've been a fan of Lake Champlain Chocolates since I was a kid, so to combine forces to create a rock n' roll chocolate bar is a dream come true. The idea behind our pistachio/pepper flake blend was to go outside the box and blend our love of spice, dark chocolate and nuts.”

“Working with rock ‘n rollers has been refreshing, while providing new challenges,” says Eric Lampman, product development specialist for Lake Champlain Chocolates. “Discovering which foods Grace and the band gravitate to while on the road allowed us to develop a flavor combination that adds a new dimension to the LCC brand.”

The product hit stores just in time for the band’s newest album release June 8 both in stores and on iTunes. The special-edition bars are a combination of 54% dark chocolate, roasted pistachios and red pepper, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. They sell for $5.00 each online at www.lakechamplainchocolates.com.

Life is sweet for Dylan Lauren

A new book from confectionery retailer Dylan Lauren pays tribute to candy and encourages readers to discover its magic.

“DYLAN’S CANDY BAR: Unwrap Your Sweet Life” features four-color, pop art-inspired photographs; mouthwatering candy recipes; and inventive candy-craft ideas for consumers of all ages who want to live the sweet life.

Other elements include candy history, trivia and fun facts, organized by event and holiday, including birthdays, baby showers, weddings, Easter, Christmas, and Halloween. The book also shows how to use classic candies that have been around for decades to both entertain and amaze. Lauren shares ideas on how to propose marriage using, of all things, candy. She also tells readers how to host a chocolate movie marathon for single friends on Valentine’s Day as well as give out birthstone-themed candy goody bags at birthday parties.

In addition, Lauren, who has been inspired by candy her entire life, reveals personal anecdotes, memories and photos that led her to create Dylan’s Candy Bar, which now boasts five locations in New York, Texas and Florida, including the flagship store in Manhattan.

The daughter of fashion icon Ralph Lauren, Dylan is founder and ceo of Dylan’s Candy Bar. Her book goes on sale Oct. 5.

For more information about Dylan’s, visit www.dylanscandybar.com. For Retail Confectioner’s Retailer Profile of the store, visit www.retailconfectioner.com, and click here.

American Idol Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox perform inside a giant M&M’S Pretzel stage.

American Idols team up with Mars

To celebrate the release of new M&M’S Pretzel Chocolate Candies, all 10 finalists from this season’s “American Idol” performed their first live public concert from the inside a giant M&M’S stage in New York City on June 1. Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze, runner-up Crystal Bowersox and contestants Michael Lynche and Casey James were among the singers to entertain some 1,500 audience members along the Pedestrian Walkway on Broadway, between 34th and 35th, with some of their favorite songs from the show.

The performance was the official kick-off for the American Idols Live! Tour 2010, which will be sponsored by M&M'S Pretzel Chocolate Candies. The first stop will be July 1 in Auburn Hills, Mich."When you put something as exciting as a pretzel inside M&M'S Candies, you need to throw an unforgettable party," says Debra Sandler, chief consumer officer, Mars Chocolate North America. "We think the chance to see all ten finalists from this season of American Idol perform their first live concert from inside an M&M'S stage - for free - fits the bill.

“Of course, we're sure that M&M'S Pretzel will never be voted out of any party," she jokes.New M&M'S Pretzel Chocolate Candies are “Sweet, Salty and Sensible,” containing 30% less fat (on average) than other leading chocolate snacks and providing a sensible bite-size treat for any event. Pretzel is the newest taste to go inside M&M'S; other flavors are Plain, Peanut, Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Peanut, Coconut, Almond and Cherry.

For more information about M&M'S Pretzel, plus footage from the “American Idol” live concert event, visit www.facebook.com/mms.

WARHEADS sponsors t-shirt contest for the St. Baldrick's Foundation

WARHEADS brand sour candies is sponsoring the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s second annual design contest for its 2011 t-shirts. The competition began June 7 and ends Aug. 15 at midnight PST. The winning design will be announced Sept. 9 on www.stbaldricks.org. and in a national press release.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is seeking a design that captures its mission and commitment to childhood cancer research as well as the excitement and heartfelt spirit of head-shaving events. The Foundation’s slogan of “Let’s Conquer Kids’ Cancer” is the focus of the 2011 marketing movement; all entrants are encouraged to incorporate this idea into their proposed designs.

The winning design will be used on the more than 60,000 t-shirts worn by St. Baldrick’s shavees, volunteers and donors next year.

The chosen designer also will receive a prize-pack from first-time contest sponsor WARHEADS that includes a 25-oz. bag of WARHEADS Extreme Sour Hard Candy as well as a WARHEADS t-shirt, bandana, beanie and water bottle. In addition, WARHEADS will provide the winner with a $250 cash prize and make a $250 donation to the Foundation in said designer’s name. Second- and third-place submissions will receive the WARHEADS prize pack, too, and have their designs sold in the St. Baldrick’s CafePress store.

This marks the second year WARHEADS has supported the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. In 2010, the brand sponsored the “WARHEADS® for Baldheads” team from Centennial Middle School in Boulder, Colo., which raised more than $13,000 for the cause.

“Last year, we reached out to our more than 200,000 Facebook fans to help raise donations to support the team and this important cause,” says WARHEADS Consumer Marketing Manager Tony Porter. “We even heard from childhood cancer survivors on our WARHEADS Facebook page thanking us for our involvement. That just reinforced our core belief that our brand is about more than just sour candy that we can use the power of WARHEADS to give back to our most devoted fans -- kids.”

This year is a landmark year for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in its efforts to fund research for childhood cancer. The Foundation has already raised more than $20.1 million for 2010 -- surpassing its best year of fundraising. Since 2000, it has raised more than $89 million for childhood cancer research by shaving more than 145,000 heads -- including more than 12,000 women and 28,500 children -- at more than 3,200 events worldwide.

For more information about WARHEADS, visit www.warheads.com.

sweet of the week: Cape Cod Cranberry Candy

Cape Cod Provisions’ Cape Cod Cranberry Candy line now offers milk chocolate-, dark chocolate- and yogurt-covered cranberries, blended so that consumers can enjoy the variety of all three in one package -- with a window for viewing the actual product inside. The suggested retail price is $4.99 per 5-oz. bag. For more information, call the Pocasset, Mass.-based company at 1-508-564-5840 or visit www.capecodprovisions.com

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