Hollywood’s answer to the sugar reduction conundrum facing confectionery

15 March 2017  •  Author(s): Roy Manuell | Digital Editor

Confectionery has unsurprisingly been facing an existential crisis over the past few years. Commercial stagnation has hit the household names as consumer trends turn increasingly towards the healthy; the sugar free; the innately sustainable – as well as the current global political uncertainty that is current threaten to alter current global trade routes in all sectors.

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Bon Bon Buddies, however, seem to have a solution, at least to the health and sugar reduction aspect. The Welsh-based company has been chosen by global entertainment giant, Disney, as the only British confectioner for a new and healthier alternative confectionery as part of Disney’s Healthy Living strategy.

Fruitickles, created by Bon Bon Buddies, were unveiled at the ISM 2017 trade fair in Cologne in January and will arrive on retailers’ and independents’ shelves across the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) from May 2017.

The character-branded Fruitickles range comprises five products made with 100% fruit in mixed strawberry, orange and blackcurrant flavours. 

New Food took time to sit down with the Welsh-based company back in Cologne to discuss how they are helping Disney encourage kids and mothers and fathers to reduce the amount of sugar they consume.

The problem with confectionery and sugar

The issue is self-evident. Following a vociferous campaign from all angles in recent years against sugar consumption, confectionery has been one of the hardest industries hit for obvious reasons. Nestlé amongst others have sought to significantly change strategy and there is a renewed emphasis on responsible, sustainable new product development – led by companies such as Barry Callebaut.

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In this case study of what Bon Bon Buddies represents, we might regard the Welsh company to embody precisely what needs to be done to encourage children or rather those buying for children to both radically reduce added sugar content while creating a product that isn’t too radical a shift away from traditional children’s confectionery. Justin Thomas, Managing Director of Bon Bon Buddies explains the philosophy behind the brand. 

So what are you doing that many others are not?

“In addition to counting as one of the recommended five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables, our brand essentially offres a portion-controlled and gluten-free product with no added sugar, no artificial flavours or colourings and is suitable for vegetarians. Our main aim was to reduce sugar intake and luckily for us, Disney were adamant that they were looking for a no added sugar proposition.

“Our challenge thus was set to find a much healthier product for kids as Disney were looking to move away from traditional confectionery in the current consumer climate that itself is looking for healthy options. 

They were also looking for a brand – not just a product. We sort of had to come up with an entire concept. This is where Fruitickles came in.” 

So what do Fruitickles ultimately stand for?

“With Fruitickles – eat quality was always the key aspect. It’s no good offering a no added sugar product that doesn’t command a second purchase because it doesn’t taste as nice as other sweets.

“We therefore had the tricky issue of both ensuring the kids enjoyed the product but also we guaranteed the mother and father’s endorsement. This was also very important for Disney. A tasty healthy product in this respect ensures in theory repeat purchases.

“Eat quality to reiterate, was the most important aspect.

“Our team has worked extremely hard to develop Fruitickles from its concept and brand right through to the recipe and design. Each product has been designed to ensure it embodies creativity and fun – elements that not only form part of Disney’s Healthy Living ethos but are also written into our corporate DNA.

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“Fruitickles are made with 100% fruit and is a healthier alternative to standard confectionery on the market, especially as many other products that promote themselves as fruit-based products only, in fact, contain about 0-6% fruit.” 

Well, congratulations are in order. What are the intricacies of the deal?

“The contract encompasses the EMEA region, so Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and spans for three years during which Fruitickles will have access to all Disney characters which is key for the company’s desire for not just a product but a brand.

“Fruitickles will therefore be associated with some of the most well-known and loved Disney brands including Disney Princess, Frozen, Cars 3, Spiderman and Star Wars.

And so how have you managed to reconcile the ‘no added sugar’ principle with taste that will make kids want to come back for more?

“As I said, eat quality was very important and has been worked on by our technical team for 12 months, primarily on the ingredients and process aspect – a top secret process at that – but eat quality and texture were our priorities.

“Throughout this process we entertained various focus groups in the UK, Germany, France and Poland to hone the product.”

Certainly it seems that the use of character shapes for the actual sweets themselves is an exciting prospect – based on Disney characters – and it’s not hard to see how a child wouldn’t be tempted. Furthermore with integrated games, collectables and many activities combined with a 100% fruit confectionery product, it’s no surprise Disney jumped at the opportunity.

So what does the next year look like for Bon Bon Buddies?

“Well, we need to be pinched, I feel, but the most important thing is to keep taking baby steps and our feet on the floor. So far however, we have enjoyed unprecedented feedback.

“Our main focus now is just to complete the expansion into the EMEA region and first and foremost satisfy precisely what Disney expect from us and the deal.

“Not just that but actually exceed their expectations.”

The exclusive three-year partnership arises from Disney’s Healthy Living strategy, which aims to encourage young children and adults to live well, live healthy and have fun. 

“We’re about to embark on a fantastic journey with an exciting product range that is really going to excite the confectionery market, and we are thrilled to be working alongside Disney again with Fruitickles.

 

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You can see why Disney might have opted for Fruitickles and to understand how Bon Bon Buddies’ latest venture fits into the general consumer stratosphere, read New Food’s Top 10 Consumer Trends of 2017 article here…

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