Congratulations to the Category Driver and Silver Circle Award Winners!

And a big Thank You! to all those Confectioner readers who participated in the process of choosing the ‘winners.’  Some new companies were honored this year — the fifth year for these Awards — and that’s an excellent sign. It shows that although major companies continue to be the primary driving force in many confectionery categories, there’s definitely room for newcomers. Companies that offer really new and different products and understand what’s needed to bring a product to market are apparently receiving a warmer welcome from retailers and wholesalers than in years past.  
In addition to the voting process, many readers were interested in sharing their thoughts, concerns and frustrations.  As a result, you’ll find a short ‘Customer Wish List’ included in our coverage.
My favorite wish? A drug chain buyer wished that the industry would band together and work on advertising and campaigns to counteract the negativity that’s coming at us from all sides. Good thought!
One theme that came up frequently was the wish that the confectionery and snack industries would really fight back when we get hammered for being ‘bad.’ Many companies are doing an excellent job in working to position their products positively and diffuse accusations. Of course, they have to be smart about how they respond to attacks.  Yet in spite of manufacturers’ efforts and those of the National Confectioners Association, the perception in the retail and wholesale communities is that it’s time to attack — rather than defend.
“Bullies succeed because we let them,” said one wholesaler CEO. And the feeling definitely is that confections and snacks are being bullied. The ‘bad food’ and ‘obesity’ issues are emotional issues. And emotions aren’t always best counteracted with logical and scientific explanations. Perhaps we need some more emotion on our side!
Time to Reposition?
One of the reactions we see to the current environment is that Masterfoods is slowly but surely eliminating the term “King Size” from its line-up. King Size M&M’s, for example, have become M&M’s Tear ’n Share Size. Similarly, Twix Caramel King Size has become Twix Caramel 4 to Go Bars. So far, we see only Masterfoods removing King Size here, but in England, all the producers have agreed that King Size will be a thing of the past. Along with the name changes, large single-piece bars are being cut into two or more pieces. As near as we can tell, the notion is that King Size implies ‘eat it all now at once,’ and name changes that imply moderation are to the good.
The 100-calorie packs of snacks and cookies introduced by — among others — Kraft, Pepperidge Farm and Frito-Lay — have certainly proven very successful and are racking up considerable sales.
All in all I’m not in sync with those pronouncing gloom and doom on snacks and candy. Too many people in our world are being creative and optimistic and working effectively and efficiently. Is it easy? No, but perhaps the problems and challenges aren’t worse than in the past — they’re just different. And we have no choice but to face them head on and deal with what needs to be dealt with.  
Hang out with the optimistic, creative people and keep your exposure to the pessimists and nay- sayers to a minimum! It really helps.
Lisbeth Echeandia
Direct Line: (903) 965-9300