|Sweet treats help pass the winter days|
Surviving the depths of winter is likely to make us all feel in need of a little pleasure or two now and again, and what could be more comforting on a cold, dreary day than to nibble on a bar of smooth, creamy chocolate.
With the professed, if somewhat intangible health benefits of the antioxidants involved, chocolate is a comfort food whose enticements are extremely difficult to resist. But there are many other sweet treats that will hold a similar lure, either by themselves or as an accompaniment to a hot drink. This is good news for New Zealand’s manufacturers and convenience store owners who will not be concerned if the winter of 2012 is deep and long.
New products essential
Cadbury’s Moro, Crunchie, Picnic, Dairy Milk are all dominant brands within the route channel. To enable these brands to continually maintain their brand health and grow within route it is imperative to have new product development relevant to this channel, says the company’s national route & alternate channel manager Trudie Shaw.
“Cadbury has successfully launched Moro Gold Max Caramel 60g, Picnic Cookie Crunch 46g and 67g, and more recently, Jelly Joiners family bag – an innovative product where you create your own flavours by mixing two variants together.
“Marvellous Creation was launched in mid June, available in two flavours: Jelly Crunchie Bits and Jelly Popping Beanies in a chunky format (also available in three variants in a larger format 290/300g) which will deliver new news and incremental value to the channel,” she said. “The Cadbury field team has played a pivotal role in the execution of NPD by focusing on speed to market, distribution and more importantly, in-store activation to implement presence, price points and an efficient sell-through. Speed to market is imperative with any new product launch and is a key focus of our major C-store retailers,” said Shaw. “Cadbury has proactively worked with its retailers and has utilised pre-pack units, allocations and pre-sale orders to deliver upon these goals.”
This is a special year for Christchurch-based Richfields Chocolate as it celebrates 20 years of innovative chocolate manufacturing in New Zealand. Still a family owned business, Richfields has built a strong following as a premium chocolate manufacturer both here and overseas.
“We have noticed good growth, particularly with the Richfields No Added Sugar range in the last year,” said sales and marketing manager, Kylee Cooper. “Customers appreciate the fact that there is a chocolate on the market that delivers the traditional chocolate experience without the sugar content.
“New Zealand’s chocolate consumers are becoming much more aware of where their chocolate is made and the origin of the ingredients within it. Today’s market gives consumers more choice than ever and consumers are choosing to experiment with flavours, brands and cocoa percentages. This is excellent news for Richfields as we source all our ingredients from the Pacific Rim and have a wide variety of flavours available,” she said.
With a history of developing innovative and exotic flavours in the Richfields Dark 70% cocoa chocolate range, Cooper sees Richfields as well placed to meet the growing demands of its consumers. “With an eye on the future of the confectionery category, Richfields Chocolate is excited to be working on some fresh, new product developments for launch later this year.”
Lindt Chocolate from Brandlines continues to add value and profit to the Chocolate categories as consumers trade up to premium and dark chocolate recipes, says business manager Brandlines, Ken Davis.
“Lindt Excellence 35g blocks are an affordable premium impulse line available in four of our best-selling flavours. Lindt blocks are also available in the 100g pack format and are growing in TKA at 24.1% MAT Aztec Data 27/5/12. Once again, Lindt leads the market with innovation with two new Dark Excellence recipes – Strawberry with real fruit pieces and Coconut caramelised blocks.
“In Boxed Chocolate the Lindt growth in TKA is 17% MAT (Aztec Data 27/5/12). The Lindt Lindor Bags 125g Assorted and Milk have been added to the Lindor family and can reach the key retail trigger point for gifting, under $10 on-shelf,” Davis said.
Also from Brandlines comes Chupa Chups and Mentos. “Confectionery in the convenience channel is all about capturing the consumer’s attention through innovation, fun and value,” says Kylie Whellan, senior business manager Brandlines. “Chupa Chups have long ticked all of these boxes and continue to be New Zealand most purchased sugar confectionery item in grocery stores. (Aztec Units TKA MAT to 27/5/12)
“Chupa Chups XXL launched the next generation in lollipops into the convenience channel in June. A step up from the two dimensional lollipop, Chupa Chups XXL Trio now combines three flavours in one lollipop. The range has a strawberry gum centre surrounded by four different candy flavour combinations: Cola & Lemon, Strawberry & KiwiFruit, Apple & Tropical and Tutti Frutti & Pineapple,” Whellan said.
Chupa Chups novelty range also includes Crazy Dips Strawberry and Cola, Melody Pops and Chupa Chups Twice Choco/Vanilla and Strawberry/Chocolate. “Mentos Blackcurrant roll and Mentos 3D Yuzu/Grapefruit/Orange, which were launched in March, saw both candy and gum Mentos ranges expand into new flavour profiles,” she said. “Mentos 3D Yuzu/Grapefruit/Orange has boosted the brands gum growth by 101% in grocery* and is already outselling two of the existing singles flavour SKUs.” (*Aztec Units TKA Quarter to 27/5/12)
Mrs Higgins has a selection of six gourmet packaged cookies with flavours ranging from “the very popular Chunky Choc Chip to the much sought after White Choc and Macadamia Nut, Raspberry and White Choc, Wild Oaty and Fruity and a few other delights within the range”, according to director Wendy Brackenridge.
She says the Choc Fudge Brownie product is one of the consistently biggest sellers. “To balance the diet we include also a muesli slice, focusing on nuts and seeds and bound together with lemon and honey.”
An enrobed muesli slice is the newest product. “This is a lovely oat-based slice where we toss in a few crushed up cashews and apricots chunks, and then totally enrobe them with a yoghurt choc coating. It is soft, moist and very moreish,” she said. “They’re fairly new to the market but starting to make some traction as customers choose New Zealand made over alternative brands from other countries.”
Brackenridge says one of the fastest growing categories is Adult Snacks where muesli slices are becoming a preferred option.
Strong presence in route
Mars New Zealand chocolate confectionery is worth over $7 million in New Zealand petrol and convenience sites (Petrol Aztec MAT data to 20/5/12), says assistant brand manager – Chocolate, Chris Sew Hoy.
Brands include M&M’s – the number one chocolate brand globally and according to Sew Hoy, the leading chocolate bite-size brand in New Zealand. He says Snickers is the number one chocolate bar in route. Other brands include: Mars, Twix, Bounty, Milky Way, Maltesers and Pods.
Sew Hoy says Mars New Zealand has recently launched Milky Way 50g, “expanding a well known brand that consumers know and love into the chocolate single bar segment. This launch has been a success in the market, helping drive double-digit growth on the Milky Way brand.
“Mars New Zealand chocolate singles are also in double digit growth in route, driven by key activations in 2012. These include the Free Bars 1-in-6 consumer promotion currently in market. Free Bars offers a simple ‘instant-win’ for consumers, with 1-in-6 average odds of winning another bar for free.
“In July, Mars New Zealand introduces Snickers 3 Nuts limited edition bar, a tasty combination of peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts with nougat and chocolate. This will back up the success of the Snickers Almond limited edition in 2011 and provide news to the route chocolate market,” Sew Hoy said.
Slabs perform well
Whittaker’s sells its chocolate through oil stations, dairies and a number of wholesalers. Marketing manger Philip Poole says Whittaker’s is famous for its Peanut Slab which was first launched in the early 1950s.
“Since then our range has extended to a variety of delicious Whittaker flavours such as Coconut and Almond Gold. Now there are even Super Slabs and Mini Slabs. The Super Peanut Slab (75g) performs particularly well in the route trade, being one of the top confectionery SKUs in several oil channels. Our latest product is a new flavour in the Super Slab range, the Almond Gold Super Slab, which was launched in November 2011.”
Poole says all four major oil channels have now ranged the Almond Gold Super Slab, as well as most dairies nationwide. “So far it has been a huge success and with good distribution we are looking forward to excellent results over the next six months.”
He says several new products are being launched this month. “These delicious chocolate treats will be exceptional for both the route trade and supermarkets. All will be made with the finest Ghanaian cocoa beans in our smooth, creamy milk chocolate. In a market with strong competition and high oil prices, innovative new products are essential.”