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Ferrara Candy Company keeps iconic brands fresh to engage consumers

5 min read


Todd Siwak

This post is sponsored by Ferrara Candy Company.

Ferrara Candy Company has been producing iconic candy products for more than a century. Led by CEO Todd Siwak, the company is working toward doubling sales to $2 billion by 2020 by reaching brand fans in new ways and staying on top of consumer trends to cultivate a wider customer base. The company rolled out Black Forest Organic Gummies to fill an opening in the marketplace for organic non-chocolate confectionery, and is refreshing popular brands such as Trolli and Now and Later with new flavors and marketing efforts targeted at millennials and Generation Z consumers.

Here, Siwak talks with SmartBrief about how the company is keeping iconic favorites fresh and investing in research and development to reach its goals.

Ferrara Candy Company is a century-old company. How are you balancing the old and the new to appeal to today’s consumer?

At Ferrara we combine tradition with innovation to deliver the brands that people love. Our portfolio is comprised of high growth leadership brands, like Trolli, Black Forest, Brach’s and Now and Later, along with strong complementary brands, like Lemonhead and Red Hots. We are revitalizing our iconic brands with offerings to appeal to younger consumers and to support growing preferences like USDA Organic certification. We are focused on investing in industry-leading research and development to perpetuate this growth. We are also updating our infrastructure and facilities. Over the past five years, we injected $165 million into modernizing our facilities and establishing a best in class, state-of-the-art operating network. These efforts and more will help us reach our goal of doubling sales to $2 billion by 2020.

How do line extensions and new products fit into Ferrara’s plan for growth?

Our focus on driving innovation and growth leads us to create products that appeal to Generation Z and millennials. Trolli, the leading sour gummi brand and one of our fastest growing brands, forged a partnership with star basketball player James Harden in February. James is a brand fan and embodies our Trolli creative platform, Weirdly Awesome. His love of Trolli and contribution to the Weirdly Awesome campaign goes beyond just his role in our marketing. He helped create new Sour Brite Weird Beards, where his face and iconic beard are brought to life in Trolli’s bright colors and beloved flavor combinations. The Beards just made their retail debut at 7-Eleven and we’re looking forward to additional retailers featuring the product later this year. These partnerships — both with James and 7-Eleven — are helping Trolli reach current fans in a new way, while also broadening reach to garner new brand fans.

Organic gummies are among Ferrara’s new products. How does candy fit into the growing trend toward natural and healthy eating that is popular with younger consumers?

The overall organic market is growing at an extraordinary rate. Our team recognized an opening in the marketplace and a need from retailers for an organic non-chocolate confectionery offering that would appeal to younger consumers. We embarked on developing a complete organic infrastructure to produce high quality, delicious tasting USDA Organic certified confections that we could offer at a reasonable premium to non-organic versions. Leveraging our significant operations capabilities and procurement scale, we developed Black Forest Organic Gummies.  This is confection industry’s first nationally available, mass-produced organic gummies certified USDA Organic. We are currently rolling out a broader portfolio of organic gummies and non-chocolate confections to expand this line.

What else is Ferrara doing to appeal to millennials and Generation Z?

We put a strong focus on reviving our iconic brands to stay relevant with Generation Z and millennials, as many of our brands over-index with these growing consumer groups. Our research shows these targets are drawn to intense sweet, sour and spicy flavors in a chewy format. We challenged our R&D team to come up with chewy offerings that reflect the marketplace flavor trends for our Red Hots and Now and Later brands. The result was our Now and Later Extreme Sour candies, the first super sour taffy in the category and three new hot and spicy flavor combinations in a chewy format for Red Hots: Kick’n Mango Lime, Sizzling Sour and Dark Chocolate Red Hots. These new offerings were tied together with packaging updates from our marketing team. It’s clear these efforts are paying off, as sales are strong and significantly growing for both brands. Now and Later sales are currently up 13% and Red Hot sales are up 7% compared to the overall non-chocolate confectionery category, which is posting at +4.4%.

Todd Siwak is CEO of the Ferrara Candy Company. Prior to joining Ferrara, he was an operating partner at Catterton Partners, one of the largest consumer-focused private equity groups in the United States. He brings to Ferrara a wealth of leadership experience in sales, marketing, operations, and management, with a specific focus on the consumer packaged-goods industry. In 2002, Siwak was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.  He holds a J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law and a B.S. in economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia.