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Candy brands give consumers more ways to ‘trade up’

BY Barbara White-Sax

There’s no denying it—frugal is the new trend. Still, retailers continue to ask themselves just how much consumers are willing to give up to save a few dollars. And does it include premium chocolate?

Premium chocolate has been the star of the candy aisle for some time. Over the five-year period from 2003 to 2007, premium chocolate’s share of the total chocolate market has more than doubled, from 7% to 18%. Curtis Vreeland, senior analyst for Packaged Facts, predicted that share to reach 25% by 2012, despite sales values boosted by commodities price hikes and recessionary slippage in demand.

A recent report from Packaged Facts revealed that sales in the premium chocolate segment outpaced overall category sales in 2007, making it the engine that drives the chocolate category. Premium chocolate sales grew nearly 5% for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 5, 2008, according to Information Resources Inc.

Recently, more action has been coming from manufacturers of mass brands who have been introducing their own “trade-up” brands. These not-quite-premium brands allow consumers to trade up within a familiar brand with a product that offers something above the traditional product.

Mars recently introduced M&M Premiums, candies with shimmering finishes in exotic flavors that are merchandised in upright containers and retail for more than $3.

“This new product captures the fashion, vibrancy and indulgence of premiumization, yet it retains the sense of colorful fun and unpretentiousness that the M&M’s brand has always stood for,” said Ryan Bowling, a spokesman for Mars Snackfood US.

Bowling said Mars also has added a number of flavors and formats to its Dove brand, which is the top-selling premium chocolate brand in the United States. Dove Desserts, in bananas foster and tiramisu, were introduced in June. In the premium tablet collection, six new flavors were added, and packaging was changed to feature three individually wrapped pieces to “address consumers’ desires for portion control and sharability,” Bowling said.

On the heels of its Cacao Reserve and Starbucks brands, Hershey launched Bliss, individually wrapped, bite-sized candies in three flavors, positioned as an everyday indulgence. To target female chocolate lovers, the company launched the product at private parties through House Party, a marketing company known for using viral marketing techniques to create word-of-mouth buzz.

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Ocean Spray plans to open New Brunswick cranberry operation

BY Melissa Valliant

LAKEVILLE-MIDDLEBORO, Mass. American cranberry co-operative will be expanding to Canada’s New Brunswick, investing $90 million in a new operation and creating about 100 new jobs. The company, which produces two-thirds of the world’s cranberry supply, plans on developing approximately 3,200 hectares of farmland.

Ocean Spray has submitted an environmental impact assessment registration with the Department of Environment. The cranberry maker says it is experiencing a higher demand for cranberries and needs more fruit.  

Gerald Richard, president of the New Brunswick Cranberry Growers Association, is excited about what Ocean Spray’s new operation may mean for the area. “My hope is that they will also bring expertise and more specialized equipment. We know that Ocean Spray invests a lot of money in research and development,” he said. “I’m hoping with them in the area they’ll be able to share that information with us and make our industry even better.”

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Kellogg releases global corporate responsibility report

BY Jenna Duncan

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. Kellogg Co. Wednesday released its first global Corporate Responsibility Report, offering a schematic of the company’s future plans, challenges and progress in the areas of community, environment, marketplace and workplace, reports said this week.

“Corporate responsibility has always been at the foundation of Kellogg Co. and a key part of our heritage and culture,” David Mackay, president and CEO of Kellogg Co. said in a statement. “More than a century after our founding, we remain a company consumers rely on to provide consistent, high-quality, great-tasting foods. Now more than ever, it’s important to do so while minimizing environmental impacts and positively addressing global challenges. Our customers, consumers, investors, and other stakeholders expect it of us — and we expect it of ourselves.”

Kellogg Co. said that it based the standards for its global responsibility report on the Global Reporting InitiativeG3 Guidelines used to draw a grid for this type of reporting. Kellogg claims a level of B on the GRI-checked application.

The company has made a commitment to being more environmentally friendly and putting an emphasis on sustainable practices, reports said. For example, Kellogg has set a goal of reducing its energy usage, greenhouse gas emission output, water use and waste by 15% to 20% by 2015. The company is also placing a focus on more support for sustainable agriculture.

The entire report can be found at http://www.kelloggcompany.com/corporateresponsibility.aspx.

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