US Candy Expo provides sweet range of new confectionery products

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 27th May 2008

The US Candy Expo was held in Chicago last week with the world’s biggest names in candy showing off their latest creations.

Mars Inc. signalled their intentions to improve their share of the premium chocolate market with the introduction of a different M&M’s product. Premium M&M’s result in Mars changing the M&M production formula for the first time, as well as changing the packaging and look of the product. The new product complements the presence of Mars’ Dove brand in the market.

The Premiums come in five flavours: raspberry almond, chocolate almond, triple chocolate, mint chocolate and mocha, and Mars believe the new offering will be a success. “It’s all about fashion, vibrancy and indulgence,” Ryan Bowling, spokesperson for Mars Snackfood US, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s a fun side of the premium chocolate category.”

The health benefits of cocoa have been heavily publicised in recent years and the premium chocolate sector has been a major beneficiary, with growth in the segment the highest within the chocolate industry (premium chocolate products tend to have higher levels of cocoa).

The change to M&M’s appears to be a part of a greater commitment to the brand as Mars are also steadily increasing options to personalise M&M candy. US consumers are now able to order M&M products online with a select number of messages, their own face or an image of their favourite baseball team on the coating in place of the ‘m’.

The Wonka Company, meanwhile, has added to their Nerds range with the introduction of jelly beans coated in Nerds candy. The Giant Chewy Nerds are part of a trend seen at the expo to mix two popular products together. One of the most discussed examples of this trend was the Crackheads confectionery, which are simply chocolate covered coffee beans. Receiving a great deal of publicity due to the audacious brand name, Crackheads have been created to take advantage of the growing number of people looking for an energy boost during the afternoon.

Crackheads were symbolic of a shift in focus toward the adult market with other examples including tequila nuggets (effectively caramel mixed with some tequila), green tea chocolate and a large number of products adding antioxidants to boost the perceived health benefits of the products. With a number of governments worldwide, including Australia, attempting to crackdown on the marketing of ‘junk food’ to children it appears that confectioners are preparing for the future with their greater interest in the adult market and healthy additives.