Gummies May Be Soft, But Sales Aren’t

New flavors, shapes take the category to chewy new heights
bummy bears

Gummies were the candy of the ’­80s—even sparking the creation of the children’s TV show “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears,” one of the only, if not the only, type of candy to hit the small screen, according to the National Confectioners Association.

But gummies are also the candy of today. Shipments of gummy fruit snacks grew 11.1% in 2015 vs. the prior year, according to distributor data from McLane Co., Temple, Texas.

“This market has not seen a cap on it yet,” says Bethany Albanese, director of operations for Albanese Confectionery Group Inc., Merrillville, Ind.

Not to mention that there are just more gummy products out there. New introductions are coming from mainstream brands such as Wrigley, which unveiled Starburst Gummies in June, as well as niche candy companies such as Bazooka Candy Brands, which has Ring Pop Gummies Chains.

22.7%

Unit growth of the 5­-ounce package of Haribo Gold-Bears Assorted in 2015

Source: IRI

“We’ve seen a huge rise in snacking, and gummies deliver on this trend with a lighter flavor, easy-to-eat format and shareable packaging,” says Matt Montei, senior marketing director, confections and seasonal, for Wrigley, about the decision to turn Starburst into a gummy.

This “newfangled” love for gummies hearkens back to the 1980s. “All of those ’80s babies have grown up. … They’re eating these gummies; they’re sharing it with their kids,” says Albanese.

The bear-shaped gummy is as popular as ever, with the 5-ounce package of Haribo Gold-Bears Assorted (one of the top 10 nonchocolate UPCs in c-stores) seeing 22.7% unit growth in 2015, according to Chicago-based IRI. That said, consumers want to see innovation.

“Like anything, we’re seeing changes in the market in what people’s demand is. ... They want different flavors; they want a different shape,” Albanese says.

The company delivers both, offering butterflies, bunnies, fighter jets and more, with a huge focus on flavor.

“We came out this year with an Orange Cream Gummy Bearsicle,” Albanese says. “It tastes like the dreamsicles that you grew up on.”

Albanese also offers “12 Flavor Gummi Bears” in classic flavors, including Cherry, Strawberry and Orange, as well as unique options such as Pink Grapefruit, Watermelon and Mango.

And Wrigley is noticing a new affinity for sour. These flavors are “becoming increasingly popular within fruit-flavored confections, and Starburst gummies allowed us to give consumers more options to get their sour-flavor fix,” says Montei.