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Hershey launches holiday Kisses, chocolate bars with simpler ingredients

BY David Salazar

HERSHEY, Pa. — This week, Hershey announced that it would be rolling out its holiday-themed Kisses and chocolate bars with a twist this year. The chocolate in this year’s holiday products will be made with no artificial flavors and simpler ingredients, in line with a commitment to doing so that the company made earlier this year. 
 
“We started making our great-tasting chocolate in 1894 with ingredients you might find in your pantry, like cocoa, milk, sugar and vanilla, and we’re continuing that tradition today,” Hershey’s VP and general manager of U.S. confection, Mary-Ann Somers, said. “People want to see ingredients that they know and are familiar with in their foods and we’re listening. Our commitments to simple ingredients and transparency continue with some of our most popular products, Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars.”
 
The simple ingredients include fresh milk from farms in Pennsylvania, responsibly sourced cocoa beans and pure cane sugar, as well as natural flavor, the company said. 
 
The products will also pilot the company’s new SmartLabel QR code, which allows shoppers to find out more about the products — information about their ingredients and what goes into making them — online by scanning a code on the package.
 
“There is a growing expectation for companies to provide more transparency about all that goes into their products and we’re at the forefront, piloting the SmartLabel this holiday season,” Somers said. 

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Classic Oreo Cookies slim down

BY Barbara White-Sax

EAST HANOVER, N.J. — Mondelez’s Nabisco division recently introduced Oreo Thins, a crisp, delicate version of the classic cookie. Oreo Thins are being positioned as a more sophisticated version of the classic, perfect for pairing with an afternoon latte or cup of tea for a more adult treat. The cookie’s new serving size is four cookies for 140 calories versus three Original Oreo Cookies for 160 calories.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

The permanent addition to the Oreo lineup launched this summer and is available in Original, Golden and Mint flavors for a suggested retail price of $4.59. The launch is being supported by a 360-degree marketing campaign, including television and social media.

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Nabisco reigns as flavors change

BY Barbara White-Sax

Sales in the cookie category may be flat overall, but Mondelez’s Oreo brand is on fire and is outpacing category growth with a more than 9% leap in dollar sales. Mondelez’s Nabisco division owns a 44% dollar share of the cookie category in the drug channel, according to IRI scanning data for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6. Private-label cookies make up 21% of category dollar sales at drug stores, but private-label’s share of the category slipped 17% at drug.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

The growth can be credited to Nabisco’s powerhouse Oreo brand. This year, Nabisco ventured into the premium category with Oreo Thins, a crisp and delicate version of the classic cookie formulated to appeal to adult consumers. Research shows that consumers are willing to spend more on indulgent treats, a trend that helped boost sales of the premium cookie segment 6% over 2013 sales, according to Mintel.

Since 2012, Nabisco has been keeping its Oreo brand fresh with a number of limited-time flavors each year. “Consumers are seeking a snacking option that’s different than they’ve ever had,” said Mondelēz International president of U.S. sales Valerie Oswalt. “What we’ve done to meet that need is the Red Velvet Oreo, where we changed the base cake and crème filling to deliver on that indulgent Red Velvet taste, bringing Oreo to a different usage.”

In addition to Red Velvet, the company has debuted 35 special edition flavors over the past few years, including Pumpkin Spice, Limeade, Marshmallow Crispy, Key Lime, Cotton Candy and Cinnamon Bun. Some flavors have become so popular, that they remain in the company’s permanent lineup.

Other manufacturers are tapping in to the success of seasonal flavors — particularly pumpkin-flavored products for autumn. This fall, Kellogg’s Keebler brand introduced limited-edition Keebler Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripes. The cookies, made with a blend of classic fall spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger, and topped with white fudge stripes, will be available through the end of 2015. The Fudge Stripes brand was down 1%across multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6, according to IRI. Kellogg’s also brought Pop-Tarts Pumpkin Pie toaster pastries back for the autumn season.

Pumpkin spice flavors are everywhere this fall. Campbell Soup Co. debuted Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies last year and has brought the flavor back for 2015. Pillsbury added Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls to its Pillsbury Grands lineup and McKee Foods introduced Little Debbie’s Pumpkin Spice Rolls this year.

Other Nabisco cookie brands were strong in the drug channel. Nabisco’s Nutter Butter brand has a 22% uptick in dollar sales and its Bel Vita, Newton and Lorna Doone brands all had dollar sales increases of around 4%, according to IRI.

Looking ahead, better for you cookies, (organic, sugar- or allergen-free, fortified or low-fat versions) remain a small segment of the market, according to Mintel, but are expected to grow sales 32% between 2015 and 2020.

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