By Bernard Pacyniak
Candy Industry

getting fresh: Recession pricing

Now, I don’t mean to offend anyone -- it just comes naturally -- but I have a difficult time understanding why anyone would get up at 3 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving in order to go shopping at 4 a.m. Sure, I get the concept of bargains, but does anyone really have to be at a department store before dawn? Moreover, I don’t believe anyone’s turkey and accompanying side dishes have actually been digested by then!
Of course, I happened to mention this at a table during my wife’s Christmas party celebration. Wouldn’t you know it, someone admitted they actually got up early to go shopping with their daughter. Foot in mouth once again, Bernie. Thankfully the food came, and after a few drinks all was forgiven.
The reason I’m bring this up is that I’m hearing that there are a lot of bargains out there -- a response by retailers to entice consumers to quit sitting on their pocket books and buy something -- anything -- during this recessionary period.
Oh yes, I can use the R word now, since it was made official a few weeks ago. Actually, the government indicated that we’ve been in a recession for a year now, but it just couldn’t be sure until recently. But that’s another rant.
Back to pricing. I’m certain many of our confectionery manufacturers have been squeezed pretty hard by retailers to come up with some discounting for their selection of holiday treats.
Typically, natural, organic and functional confections have had higher price points than mainstream candies -- pricing that takes into account the higher cost of ingredients as well as operational considerations.
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I have a feeling it’s been difficult to maintain that position during the past few months. Consequently, profit margins have undoubtedly suffered. But there’s more than one way to entice consumers during these tough economic times, besides price cutbacks. What consumers, all of us want and understand, is value. Hence, by providing buyers with little bit extra -- be it product, packaging, convenience or peace of mind, ala social consciousness -- there’s a good chance the consumer will acknowledge the added value.
And that’s what consumers are looking for during these penny- (or should I say dollar) pinching times. Recently, there have been several reports discussing the impact the recession has had on organic and all-natural growth, with many of them noting the end of double-digit growth. Still, the latest news is actually quite encouraging.
According to a Mambo Track study by Collingswood, N.J.-based Mambo Sprouts Marketing (, consumers remain committed to natural and organic product purchasing, with more than eight in 10 indicating that they have no plans to change (40%) or are only changing somewhat (41%). Fewer than one in five (18%) revealed that they planned notable adjustments to their natural and organic foods shopping habits.
Nevertheless, these consumers are more cost-conscious than ever before. The study shows that consumers ranked sales prices, couponing and promotions higher this year than last (82% versus 76% for sales price; 70% vs. 65% for couponing; and 44% vs. 24% for promotions).
When asked what manufacturers and retailers could do to assist with organic purchasing, 91% asked for more coupons, while 88% asked for lower prices. Those are kind of no-brainers, if you ask me. I mean, what would you say? And no, free isn’t a choice.
However, I do find it interesting that coupons outpolled lower prices. It must be the thrill of seeing the suggested retail price being slashed at the counter that’s behind this, don’t you think?
Most economic gurus are predicting a slow withdrawal from this economic morass, say sometime by the second quarter. That translates into manufacturers continuing to be creative about delivering more value to consumers to encourage their loyalty to natural, organic and functional foods. Coupons, anyone?
Finally, just as an aside, Trader Joe’s came out with their top-selling products (34 of them) for 2008. Six fell into the confectionery sector: Candy Cane Joe Joe’s, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Pound Plus Bittersweet Chocolate (500 grams of Belgian chocolate), Five Seed Almond Bars, Peanut Nut Butter Pretzels and Nuts. Just thought you’d find that interesting.
From all of us at the Sweet & Healthy eNewsletter, we wish you the most happy and holistic of holidays, and a resplendid and prosperous New Year!

Chocolatiers form new organization

A group of chocolatiers -- including Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate, Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate, Alex Whitmore of Taza Chocolate, Clark Goble of Amano Artisan Chocolate, Steve DeVries of DeVries Chocolate and Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate -- have come together to form the Craft Chocolate Makers of America (CCMA).
By participating in the organization, chocolatiers commit to making bean-to-bar chocolate using traditional methods. The goal of the CCMA is “to promote and protect American craft chocolate making and craft chocolate for future generations of craft chocolate enthusiasts,” the group says. Members of the CCMA also will help each other with cocoa supply, chocolate quality, machinery and other technical issues.
To join the CCMA, companies must be small and independent, use traditional chocolate-making methods, have had bean-to-bar products on the market for at least one year and uphold honest business practices.
For more information, visit

Wolfgang Candy ships to Vietnam

York, Pa.-based Wolfgang Candy Co. has introduced its all-natural dark chocolate-dipped berries to the Vietnam marketplace. Thanks to the sales success of Ron Davis of Bell Export Foods, in mid-January, 1,500 pounds of the chocolate-covered berries will arrive in Vietnam, 300 cases of which will be delivered to three Fivimart stores.
“Fivimart is the largest retailer in Vietnam,” Davis explains. “We anticipate that Wolfgang’s fresh whole-fruit berry chocolates will be in demand by Fivimart’s other 15 supermarkets once the Vietnamese customers taste these high quality chocolates.”
For more information about Wolfgang Candy Co., visit

Blue Diamond Growers acquires part of former Hershey plant in California

As a solution to increasing almond crops, Blue Diamond Growers, one of the largest almond processing and marketing companies, recently purchased a 132,000-sq.-ft. cold storage building that was part of the former Hershey plant in Oakdale, Calif. The cold storage building adjoins with Sconza Candy Co.’s purchased portion of the plant. The cold storage unit will handle overflow from Blue Diamond’s Salida facility, which is located about 19 miles west. The deal closed escrow on Nov. 21, 2008 and will begin operating in mid-December. Blue Diamond will staff the facility with three to five employees from its Salida plant.
For more information, visit

Recchiuti named U.S. Ambassador

Michael Recchiuti, chocolatier and co-founder of San Francisco-based Recchiuti Confections, has been named the first U.S. Valrhona Ambassador. In turn, Valrhona, a leader in rare origin cacao, has created a custom blend chocolate for use in a new Recchiuti Confections 64% Semisweet Bar and enrobed Recchiuti products.
The new semisweet chocolate bars are available at Peet’s Coffee & Tea stores, online at and at Recchiuti Confections’ retail store, located in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace.
As the U.S. Valrhona Ambassador, Recchiuti will develop recipes using Valrhona products and teach professionals and consumers through demonstrations and classes.
“Partnering with Valrhona has been a great experience and they have been extremely supportive in helping me create this fabulous custom blend,” Recchiuti says. “At the end of the day, it’s about great chocolate and confections and continuing to wow and please our customers. This unique partnership lets me do just that – and then some!”
For more information, visit  

Russell Stover opens new flagship

In early December 2008, Russell Stover Candies opened a new retail location in Overland Park, Kan.
The flagship store will offer the company’s full line, including Russell Stover, Whitman’s and Weight Watchers brands. It also will allow consumers to build their own box of chocolates or purchase assorted chocolates, truffles, kid’s candy and other confections.
For more information about Russell Stover Candies, visit

sweet of the week: Honibe Honey Drops

One of liquid honey’s core problems is that it can be messy. However, Island Abbey Foods Ltd. has found a way to measure exactly one serving of honey in a drop that consumers can even hold in their hands. EachHonibe Honey Dropcontains one teaspoon (5 gm.) of 100% all-natural dried honey without any additives or binding agents. When the drop is added to boiling water, it dissolves in about a minute. Available in pure honey and pure honey with lemon varieties,Honibe can be used in any hot beverage or as a candy or dessert topping. For more information,