As more and more consumers eat healthier, the trend toward all-natural, all-organic confections continues to increase as well. Candy and individual snacks, under the natural and organic category are up almost 20 percent from last year, according to SPINS (see accompanying chart).
“Around the world, people are starting to pay attention to what goes in their mouth,” says Torie Burke, of Torie & Howard. The New Milford, Conn.-based manufacturer launched its Organic Hard Candies, free of preservatives, additives and artificial flavors, at last year’s Fancy Food Show. “Our fruit flavors really taste like fruit.”
After noticing there were not a lot of all natural, all-organic candy offerings, owners Burke and Howard Slatkin developed over 40 flavor profiles settling on four dual combinations: Italian Tarocco blood orange and wildflower honey, California pomegranate and sweet freestone nectarine, D’Anjou pear and Ceylon cinnamon, and pink grapefruit and Tupelo honey. “Our flavors are hitting the trends at the right time,” Burke says, noting there are not many dual-flavor profiles.
If the dye has a number associated with it, she says, “you know it’s not natural.” Depending on the flavor, Torie & Howard uses colored red cabbage, purple carrot, black carrot, black currant, apple and annatto for its natural dyes. With only 12 calories per candy, she says candy lovers can eat guilt-free.
"Consumers tend to want food with as few ingredients as possible on the list,” says Rachel Sweet, vice president of Sweet Candy Co.
The Salt Lake City manufacturer introduced an all-natural line last year called Classics Au Natural, and also makes natural candies under private label. The new line includes Citrus Slices, Squirmy Worms (gourmet sour gummy worms), Squishy Fishy (gourmet gummy fish) and Nummy Bears (gourmet gummy bears), all of which have no artificial flavors, colors, gluten, corn syrups or preservatives.
YumEarthis experiencing consistent high year-to-year growth, according to cofounder of YummyEarth Inc., Rob Wunder. “Growth is being fueled by increased distribution and points of sale, through expansion into mainstream, combined with the launch of new products, such as YumEarth Organics Fruit Snacks in 2013 and YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans and YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears and Gummy Worms over the last few years.”
“Our best ideas come from our fans and our kids,” says Wunder. “Our kids were begging us to make fruit snacks the ‘YumEarth way,’ tasty and healthy, and our fans were asking us for a vegan gummy.”
In May, the manufacturer of only organic and natural candies launched a 100 percent vegan YumEarth Organics Fruit Snacks with no artificial colors or flavors. It’s made with organic fruit juice and comes in banana, strawberry, cherry and peach.
“What used to be a niche trend in the health food market has made its way into the mainstream,” says Wunder. “Consumers everywhere, especially moms, are looking for items that taste good and are good for you to place in the grocery cart.” “People are finally understanding the difference between natural and organic,” adds Sandy Gencarelli, director of marketing and export sales at Hillside Candy. “Organic is a big notch above natural.”
The New Jersey candy manufacturer introduced two new products to their GoOrganic line: Ginger Xtreme hard candy, which is spicy, and Ginger Chews, which have a different texture. Gencarelli notes the medicinal value of ginger for motion sickness and nausea.
“Customers are reading the ingredients,” she says, pointing out that the company’s organic products are gluten-free and use no preservatives, artificial flavors, saturated fats, chemicals, colors, additives or high fructose corn syrup. Naturally sweetened with evaporated cane juice and organic brown rice syrup, these candies are USDA-, non-GMO and kosher-certified and available in 3.5-oz. gusseted peg bags, 30-oz. Gusseted bags and 15-pound cases.
The GoOrganic and GoNaturally line are just one of four product lines but “it’s our fastest growing product line,” she says.
Natural candies may be a small segment at the Jelly Belly Candy Co., yet the California manufacturer has a couple new items under this category, reports Director of Communications Tomi Holt.
Sunkist Dark Chocolate Raspberry Sticks andSunkist Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks are each available in Grab & Go 2.55- oz. Packs. Free of artificial colors and flavors, peanuts and gluten, these bite-size pieces filled with pectin jell centers that have real fruit purees and juices and are a source of Vitamin C. They are also vegetarian and OUD-kosher certified.
New ideas for the holidays
Just in time for Halloween, Torie & Howard created new packaging for its blood orange and wildflower honey line, available now in 5-oz. Peg bags. The company also is in the process of developing a shipper program to allow larger stores to use a floor stand-alone unit at the end of an isle.
Meanwhile, Taza Chocolate introduced two new holiday bars: Pan de Jengibre Gingerbread, a 60 percent stone ground dark chocolate paired with gingerbread, and Spiked Eggnog Chocolate Mexicano disc, a Direct Trade-certified Dominican cacao paired with rum.
For Valentine’s Day this year, the Somerville, Mass.-based chocolate manufacturer also launched Coco Besos Bar, a 70 percent dark stone ground chocolate with organic coconut. It did so well, the company decided to keep it in production, adds Stephanie Larason, research and communications manager at Taza.
This fall, Taza Chocolate, which only produces organic and natural products, will introduce a new line of mini bars. Tazitos Crunch, which combines crispy brown rice with 65 percent dark chocolate, will debut in five crunchy flavors: Peanut Crunch, Coconut Crunch, Almond Crunch, Hazelnut Crunch or Crispy Crunch. Odds are, they’ll be a natural favorite in the candy aisle.