Year Without Sugar Proves Sweet for Innovative Candy
By Dana Cvetan
A year ago,
Innovative Candy Concepts took the bold, and some might have thought, risky
step of removing refined sugar from its kids’ candy line via a
complete reformulation. The move paid off.
Sales of the brand, renamed Too Tarts Smart Choice to
indicate its healthier nature, have increased more than 20 percent over the
past year. In addition, the brand has gone from being an in-and-out
promotional item in many retail markets to an everyday item in the
plan-o-gram of some national retail chain stores, reports Armand Hammer,
founder, president and CEO of the Atlanta-based company. Among other
retailers, Smart Choice is sold in 7-Eleven, Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart.
The company does not release sales figures, but Hammer
explains that off-shelf-sales at the retail level are up 20 percent, and
sales to retailers are up dramatically—much more than 20 percent.
“This says that the American public, the
parents, are starting to become aware that this product is available to
them—the kids already knew,” says Hammer.
Smart Choice, which includes Sour Blast and Super
Sweet spray candies, Xtra Sour Goo, UFOs and Suck Ups, is sweetened with
enough fruit juice concentrate to gives each item the equivalent of two
servings of fruit juice, plus a small amount of sucralose, brand named
Splenda, used as a “booster.” The candies also contain 50 to 60
percent fewer calories than did their original formulations.
Hammer reports that there have been no consumer
concerns about the use of artificial sweeteners in the Smart Choice line.
One reason, he says, besides the fact that the products contain only a
minimal amount of Splenda, is that the candies contain no sugar alcohols,
which are present in many sugar-free products and which can cause gastric
distress in some people.
The company is currently planning to sponsor physical
activities for children on the local and national level as part of its
promotional programs, and will announce those plans by year’s end. n
Ferrara’s Testimony Supports CAFTA
Sal Ferrara, president of
Forest Park, Ill.-based Ferrara Pan Candy Co. and chairman ex-officio of
the National Confectioners Association (NCA), testified this spring before
the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee in
support of the U.S. Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade
He urged Congress, which is divided on the trade plan,
to support the agreement because it will deliver economic benefits to the
United States. CAFTA would also open up sugar imports from Central America,
although the actual net impact is estimated to equal only about 1% of the
total U.S. sugar supply.
“It’s important for the U.S. government to
support the trade agreement with Central America because it represents
almost $3 billion in increased export sales to the region,” Ferrara
told congressional committee members.
CAFTA would create a free trade zone between the
United States and six countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Currently about 80 percent
of exports from CAFTA nations enter the United Sates duty free while
most U.S. exports to those nations are restricted or slapped with taxes.
Under CAFTA, duties on more than half the value of U.S. farm exports would
be eliminated, with reductions on other tariffs phased in gradually.
Many commercial sugar users believe CAFTA would
represent a small step in realizing true sugar reform in the country.
Today, U.S. sugar sells for 23 cents a pound compared to the world price of
9 cents a pound.