By Bernard Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry
pacyniakb@bnpmedia.com

getting fresh: Getting creative

Occasionally, all of us come across either concepts or products that make us nod our heads and say, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Naturally, it’s an even better feeling when you can claim credit for such an idea, but lately a lot of brain power has been directed toward survival rather than symphonic creativity.

But we all need to draw inspiration, be it from within or from others. And I thought it would make sense to share some really creative concepts with you as a way to get past all this gloom and doom we’ve been inundated with recently.

First, I’m sure there’s no need to remind you that Mother’s Day is just around the corner. (Love you, Mom!) Hopefully, many of you have been able to maximize this gift-giving opportunity; I mean what mom doesn’t love chocolate or sweet treats?

Moms also appreciate recognition, even if it, unfortunately, only lasts a mere 24 hours. Well, I happened to log into TCHO’s Web site (www.tcho.com) the other day and found a wonderful way to involve customers and honor mothers. (TCHO is … according to their marketing spiel … a modern, flavor-driven, millennial values manufacturer of obsessively good dark chocolate.)

In addition to offering a special tasting gift for mothers, the company’s Web site asks visitors to send photos of themselves and their mothers. TCHO then selects certain pix and places them on its home page.

The lead photo in a series of photographs features a mother -- Jane, to be exact -- piloting a boat back to shore (it looks like the San Francisco skyline) as her two children, Zoe and Orson, sleep peacefully in the front of the boat. It’s a great shot, as are all the others.

Sweet Candy Co.'s Wine Sticks

Obviously, the folks at TCHO probably sought out some initial photos from their employees and friends to get the concept going. Nevertheless, I thought the promotion ingenuous for its simplicity and sincerity.

But then, TCHO is known for being a bit unconventional in its approach to sourcing, processing and marketing its chocolate products. (See the October 2008 edition of Candy Industry at www.candyindustry.com.)

Another neat concept that landed on my desk comes from a more traditional candy company, and that’s Salt Lake City-based Sweet Candy Co. (www.sweetcandy.com). The long-time producer of taffies, chocolate-covered pectin and fondant sticks, jellies, jujus and panned products has come out with Wine Sticks.

Capitalizing on the popularity of pairing chocolate with wine, the company has focused on one of its core competencies -- the production of quality pectins -- and taken it premium by using a wine reduction to produce three gel centers: Cabernet, Port and Champagne. The gels contain no alcohol, just the essence of real wine, thereby avoiding complications from states that ban alcohol in confections.

As President Richard Kay points out, “So many people talk about wine and chocolate as complementary flavors, but few have put the two flavors together so directly.”

Kudos to Kay and Sweet Candy Co.’s research and development team for leveraging existing trends into their product line and doing it in a way that appeals to not only the most jaded wine snob, but mainstream consumers everywhere.

So I toast the folks at TCHO and Sweet Candy Co. for their creativity. Now that should get those juices going, my friends.

Organic snack sales surge 11% in 2008

Despite the economic downturn pressuring consumers to be more frugal, organic food sales, including organic snacks, which include candy and nutrition bars, posted double-digit gains last year, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) reported yesterday.

In results from its 2009 Organic Industry survey, the OTA said organic food sales grew 15.8% to reach $22.9 billion in 2008. As a result, organic food sales now account for 3.5% of all food products sold in the United States -- a “milestone,” the association noted.

Although the OTA does not break down its data into sub-categories, it did provide Sweet & Healthy with organic snack food statistics. According to the association, organic snack food sales grew 11% to reach $1.11 billion in 2008.

In commenting on the results, the OTA’s executive director Christine Bushway remarked that organic products “represent value to consumers, who have shown continued resilience in seeking out these products.”

For more information, visit www.ota.com.

Storck USA promotes president

On May 1, Chicago-based Storck USA promoted Ralf Hilpuesch from president to CEO of the company’s North American operations.

As president and CEO, Hilpuesch is responsible for leading the expansion of Storck’s confectionery brands -- including Werther’s Original Hard Candies, Werther’s Original Caramel Chocolates, Riesen Chewy Chocolate Caramels, Toffifay chocolate hazelnut candies, Merci fine boxed European chocolates and Mamba Fruit Chews -- in the United States and Canada.

Hilpuesch has served as president of Storck USA and Storck Canada, Inc. since 2004. Previously, he served as vice president of marketing for Storck’s North American operations. He also has held several marketing positions with parent company August Storck KG.

For more information, visit www.storck.com.

Natra acquires Colombian cocoa

Spanish company Natra has acquired the first harvest of Colombian cocoa, thanks to the program of restructuring of cultivation, which substitutes the cultivation of the illegal form of the coca plant for cocoa cultivation. This program was encouraged by the International Development agency of the United States and Social Action of the government of Colombia.

Natra will receive 50 tons of Colombian cocoa, making it the company’s newest origin chocolate in its range of products, including cocoa of origin from Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Colombian cocoa is considered high quality due to its cleanliness and refined aroma.

Natra also has developed new ranges of products made with organic cocoa and fair trade crops. The range of tablets, called Fair Trade², consists of origin cocoa from Peru and the Dominican Republic with cereal and fruit inclusions.

For more information, visit www.natra.es.





Farley's & Sathers names new CEO

Round Lake, Minn.-based Farley’s & Sathers Candy Co., Inc. has appointed Liam C. Killeen CEO. The company’s previous CEO, Keith Lively, will remain a member of the Board of Directors and stay actively involved in the company. Dennis Nemeth will continue to serve as the company’s president.

Kileen brings with him more than two decades of industry experience to Farley’s & Sathers, which expects him to enhance the connection between the company’s brands and its consumers in order to increase growth and profitability.

Killeen previously held three executive positions at Storck KG, as executive vice president, CEO of Storck North America and managing director of Bendicks of Mayfair. Prior to working for Storck, Killeen served as vice president of marketing for Perfetti Van Melle, marketing manager for the E.J. Brach Corp. and senior brand manager for Jacob Suchard Ltd.

For more information, visit www.farleysandsathers.com.

sweet of the week: Choclatique Moon Rocks Collection

Los Angeles-based Choclatique’s new Moon Rocks Collection honors the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon. It’s composed of a variety of all-natural dark, milk and white chocolates, created to represent samples of moon rocks. These dynamically shaped chocolates have a multifaceted design that replicates a crystalline structure found in the rocks and craters on the surface of the moon. The assortment features fifteen flavors in bright, metallic colors, including Apollo Almond, Moon Rock Mousse, Cosmic Caramel Crunch and Stellar Short Cake. The suggested retail price is $30 per box. For more information, visit www.choclatique.com.