Exclusive feature: Driving development of confectionery finished products
Treat or trick! Close up above top view cropped shot of arms of two small kids holding and sharing transparent glassware with colorful treats, unhealthy sweet stuff, jelly, chewy worms
Challenging conditions amid the pandemic have driven demand for healthier and functional jellies and gums, representing key opportunities for manufacturers. We explore some of the latest equipment and finished products. Daisy Phillipson reports
The past two years have unsurprisingly impacted the confectionery industry, from changing buying behaviours to disrupted supply chains. Despite the economic uncertainty posed by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, candy producers have embraced the changes through investment in smarter, automated machinery, the enhancement of online sales channels and the adaptation of product offerings.
As a result, the prospects for the jellies and gums segment appear encouraging in the coming months, with many of the major players witnessing increased sales in 2021. According to a recent report from consulting firm Polaris Market Research, the global confectionery market was valued at $47.93 billion in 2020, and is expected to generate annual growth rates of 4.7 per cent through to 2028.
Yet recovery varies on a national level, and for many suppliers there’s still a way to go to make up for the business disruption and loss of sales suffered in 2020 and 2021. Companies must continue to create innovative NPD strategies to entice shoppers while also considering costs. As such, the capability to create a wide variety of products with a single piece of machinery is of vital importance for many businesses.
In the context of jellies and gums manufacturing, Edward Smagarinsky, group product manager (Mogul) at tna solutions, calls attention to the NID forté MHP 3 mogul. Smagarinsky comments: “Thanks to its compatibility with many different moulding starches and a wide range of depositing pumps, the tna NID forté MHP 3 can handle a variety of recipe types.” The smart preset features included with the system allow operators to pre-programme and select from a wide range of recipes, resulting in less downtime between production runs, consistency between batches and reduced reliance on manual intervention.
Functional or medicated candy is a huge trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic, as consumers seek to address physical and emotional wellbeing with their food choices. Although jellies and gums are the ideal vehicle for masking the taste of active ingredients, the equipment used to process them must be capable of handling recipe alterations without impacting functionality.
Equipment firm Baker Perkins has developed a solution with its new starchfree depositor, which is said to be ideal for processing gummies and jellies with long setting times, especially for the rapidly growing functional, nutraceutical and healthcare markets. With the ServoForm Flexi, starch-free mould trays are removed and stacked after depositing and the product remains in the mould until full strength has been developed. Another company is equipment and systems business WDS that, under its new division sweetOTC, is dedicated to providing complete solutions for candy with active ingredients.
The specialists of sweetOTC are said to adopt a holistic approach and offer customers not only the complete development of new and individual OTC confectionery and supplements, but also the corresponding matching production processes with the appropriate machines and components. Of course, taking supplements in sweet form is nothing new, but the move away from artificial ingredients to plant-based remedies is evident in the wealth of innovative new products that hit the shelves in 2021.
One area of rising importance to consumers is immune health, with recent insight from FMCG Gurus showing that 64 per cent of global consumers have become more conscious of their immune levels as a result of the pandemic. Addressing demand is the new Jarrow Formulas Probiotic+ Gummies range, which comprises Probiotic Duo, Probiotic+ Prebiotic and Probiotic+ Immune. The line is formulated with two clinically-studied probiotic strains known to support stomach health, aid in digestion and nutrient absorption and support immune response.
Functional mushrooms are also having a moment due to their medicinal properties, with 2021 witnessing a range of new food launches containing adaptogenic strains such as lion’s mane and reishi.
A delicious way to reap the health benefits of these fungi is with WonderDay Mushroom Gummies, described as a daily ‘mushroom-multi’. Alongside a sweet raspberry flavour, the gummies are packed with ten adaptogenic mushrooms that are designed for whole body balance and support.
A further example is Gwella’s Mojo soft chews, which promise the magic of a gramme and select from a wide range of recipes, resulting in less downtime between production runs, consistency between batches and reduced reliance on manual intervention. Daily dose Functional or medicated candy is a huge trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic, as consumers seek to address physical and emotional wellbeing with their food choices. Although jellies and gums are the ideal vehicle for masking the taste of active ingredients, the equipment used to process them must be capable of handling recipe alterations without impacting functionality.
Equipment firm Baker Perkins has developed a solution with its new starchfree depositor, which is said to be ideal for processing gummies and jellies with long setting times, especially for the rapidly growing functional, nutraceutical and healthcare markets.
With the ServoForm Flexi, starch-free mould trays are removed and stacked after depositing and the product remains in the mould until full strength has been developed. Another company is equipment and systems business WDS that, under its new division sweetOTC, is microdose without any of the worry. The strawberry and tangerine flavoured chews contain a blend of over a dozen different functional mushrooms, herbs and roots, all of which are associated with enhanced energy, focus, clarity and mood.
With mental wellbeing high on the agenda, health and beauty brand No. 8 utilises the power of nootropics, a compound that is said to improve cognitive functions like memory and motivation.
The company’s nootropic gummy, aptly named Calm, features Sensoril, a whole-plant ashwagandha supplement. As explained by No. 8, by working with the whole plant instead of just the root, Sensoril packs more bioactives than traditional supplements and has been proven effective in managing stress and lowering cortisol levels.
The rising vegan movement has also heavily influenced NPD over the past 12 months. Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2022 report highlights how the past year has seen a 59 per cent increase in new plant-based products that also carry a premium or indulgence claim, and this is certainly visible within the non-chocolate confectionery segment. Major players including Haribo are catering to this trend, with the firm introducing Haribo Sour Sparks and Haribo Starbeams to its growing variety of vegetarian sweets. In France, Not Guilty Sweet Revolution launched Mi Colazon Cola Flavoured Jellies, an organic and 100 per cent plant-based treat.
Similarly, UK-based Candy Kittens’ new gummy range, Gourmies, are vegan, and are designed to appeal to a grown-up palate with three flavour blends: Orchard Apple & Dragon Fruit; Sweet Raspberry & Guava; and Blood Orange & Pomegranate.
Alongside the rise in plant-based products, reformulating recipes to reduce sugar will continue to be a key focus in 2022. Amid media attention and governmental initiatives highlighting the health problems associated with high sugar consumption, numerous manufacturers have risen to the challenge of creating a great-tasting sweet that contains virtually no sugar. Behave Candy is a prime example; its range, which includes Seriously Good Gummy Bears and Seriously Good Sour Bears, contains just 1g of sugar and 60 calories per bag. The gummies are also free from GMOs, gluten, dairy and artificial colours and flavours. As the company’s motto suggests, “Go ahead, eat the whole bag.”
Sense of adventure
In tandem with the health food megatrend, jellies and gums NPD has been driven by the polarising demand for familiarity and adventure. Consumers who have spent much of the past two years stuck at home during the pandemic are looking for adventure in their food choices, and yet they are also embracing comforting and nostalgic tastes and textures.
Demonstrating how this can be achieved, last year Sour Patch Kids introduced a mystery flavour to its mix, calling on fans to participate in a competition to guess the new addition with the chance to win a prize while leaving clues along the way. Another example is Mars Wrigley’s recently launched Starburst Airs, an aerated gummy candy that delivers a new, bouncy texture to the popular fruit flavoured treat.
The non-chocolate candy segment has also witnessed an uptick in more sophisticated, adult-oriented jellies and gums. For example, the Jelly Belly Candy Company added three new flavours to its Cocktail Classics line: Mimosa, Gin & Tonic and Moscow Mule.
Available in early 2022, the new additions join Pomegranate Cosmo, Margarita, Mojito, Piña Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri, all of which are OU Kosher certified and free from gluten, peanuts, dairy and alcohol. Smith & Sinclair took the adult confectionery concept one step further with the release of its Tequila Time Alcoholic Cocktail Gummies, which Mintel revealed were recently made available in France.
Created with real premium tequila at a boozy 5 per cent ABV, each adult-only gummy is said to be mixed like a drink but consumed in two bites.
With such an array of innovative confectionery hitting the shelves over the past year at a time of economic uncertainty, the future for the non-chocolate candy segment looks sweet. As trends and movements continue to shift, suppliers will be better placed to remain competitive by embracing the requirements of the modern consumer and developing better-for-you options that deliver taste and nutrition simultaneously