Candymakers test appeal of ‘healthier’ sweets
BY RACHEL RICE Staff Reporter Jun 2, 2011 02:13AM
You don’t have to convince a kid to eat a piece of candy. But to help grownups justify indulging in a chocolate bar or a handful of jellybeans, candy companies are flaunting the health benefits of their products.
Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioner’s Association, says that though health benefits are not the direct reason for consumers to grab up the sweet stuff, it is an added incentive.
“Consumers buy candy for the taste,” Graham said. “But it factors in that consumers are more focused on their diets and are trying to be more healthful. I still think it’s more just added benefit.”
One of the best-known “healthy” treats is dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate was among the first to push ‘better for you’ positioning, promoting especially the antioxidant content,” Mintel International marketing analyst Marcie Mogelonsky said. But more recently, Mogelonsky says, fruit candies, like Lemonhead’s assorted flavors, have been getting in on the action and cashing in on the health craze.
“In general, the desire is to provide candy with no artificial colors or flavors,” Mogelonsky said. “Also of interest is candy with no corn syrup (pure cane sugar instead), and products with no additives or preservatives.”
At the Sweets and Snacks Expo last week in Chicago, many products crowed that they contained antioxidants. Pomegranate and other fruit flavors big on health benefits have become a popular addition to many candies. Darrell Lea, a confectionery company out of Australia, came to the expo flaunting their newest flavor of licorice: blueberry pomegranate. And chocolate manufacturers, while still marketing their dark chocolate for its health benefits, have also moved on to chocolate flavors infused with sea salt. Jeff Asher, owner of Asher’s chocolates, said that their new sea salt products and their sugar-free products are big sellers.