Confectionery is big business in America. That must suit a country famous for so many magnificently huge landmarks, naturally made or otherwise! But something interesting has happened during the last few years and it seems that we are partly responsible. American confectionery is becoming big business outside of America; more specifically, in the UK.
It started quietly with just a few products and then more recently the UK confectionery market seems to be welcoming endless American sweets and American chocolate brands for British shoppers to indulge in. Wonka bars, Reese’s Candy, Jolly Rancher, Mike & Ike. The list goes on and even Asda has got on the band wagon with Hershey’s.
Is this just a fad or are these distinctly American sweets and chocolates here to stay on our little island? Sweet Retailing asked this very question to a number of UK companies currently embracing the American confectionery market on our behalf.
If you care to Google “American sweets” or indeed “American confectionery” you will quickly spot that there are many fairly new UK companies amongst some longer established organisations fighting for that top spot on page number one. These keywords are in hot demand and that certainly says something for the UK sales of American sweets.
Currently hanging on to that number one spot is Stateside Candy Co. with its conveniently named website, americansweets.co.uk. Ella Street, the company’s wholesale and promotions manager explained that Stateside Candy Co. was created in 2004 by Al Baker after he returned from a trip to the states with a few too many candy bars in his suitcase. Being the entrepreneur and realising that he could only eat so many, Al found a sturdy sale for them on the internet (we suspect ebay!). His American sweets business was born and quickly grew from the spare room to its own dedicated warehouse.
Stateside Candy Co. can now offer retail sales through two stores in addition to an online shop and Al Baker confirms that he has seen growth in the region of 50% every year for the last three years.
This sort of growth stacks up with other retailers of American sweets and chocolates that we spoke to. Richard Stern from We Luv Sweets (and yes you can easily surmise that the website address is weluvsweets.co.uk) told us that having been trading for just over two years, growth on sales of American confectionery is “about three times up on this time last year, which bodes well for 2012”. A busy market indeed.
Keeping the matter in perspective, sales are clearly rising from a small base, but there is no denying the opportunity that American sweets and chocolates is presenting many UK confectionery retailers.
We probed a little deeper and caught up with a shiny new company that has devoted itself to the sale of American confectionery, such is the owner’s conviction in the trend. American Goodies (americangoodies.co.uk) started trading in September 2011. Six months on, the company is experiencing regular sales and has high hopes for the future.
So we decided to ask a much bigger organisation to see if the growth trend was still consistent. It is. Hancocks Cash and Carry has been selling a number of American confectionery brands during the last year and has experienced strong sales. Sourced from the official UK agent (which apparently not all wholesalers are doing) Hancocks confirmed that sales of Wonka in particular were strong.
“This is another great opportunity for independent confectionery retailers in the UK to offer something a bit different that is not widely available” said Jonathan Summerley, Hancocks purchasing director.
Happy memories and nostalgia
Either our sources had been comparing notes or there is a clear and consistent reason for this increased interest in American sweets and chocolates.
The time is unquestionably right for the UK confectionery market given the dodgy state of the economy. We all reach for a sweet treat when the going looks tough as it is an affordable pick-me-up or token gift. With regard to American confectionery, as so many of us have travelled further afield in years gone by, brands such as Wonka and Hershey’s remind us of our happy adventures. Al Baker summed up, “Our sweets give people a taste of America without the expensive flights!”
The fact that American confectionery cannot be found in every shop and (dare we say it) in every supermarket across the land gives it additional appeal. As shoppers, we have become so confectionery savvy that we love to seek out something a bit different for a change. Hancocks certainly confirms that this can explain much of the current interest for American confectionery brands.
Fad or trend?
Those that retail American confectionery assure us that this is no short term fad. Whilst a bag of Fluff or Wonka Nerds might not be everybody’s cup of tea (or bag of sweets) the market feels confident that demand for American sweets and chocolates will continue to grow and maintain its place within a very busy UK confectionery market.
“It’s definitely going to continue as people travel to the States and want to buy the sweets they enjoyed over there when they get back here” said Richard Stern.
The founder of American Goodies would agree with this suggestion, “We’re not here to make a quick buck so genuinely consider this to be a long time trend, especially with more and more people travelling to the States”.
The leading brands
Whilst there are some common names to consider within the American confectionery arena, there is no shortage of stock to choose from. Indeed Al Baker from Stateside Candy Co. explained that he visits many shows in America each year in order to seek out new and interesting American brands to offer the eager UK market.
Our own take on the leading American confectionery brands in the UK market would give Wonka the number one spot. The 40th anniversary of the Willy Wonka film character last year must contribute to its popularity somewhat. Close followers would include: Hershey’s, Reese’s, Mike & Ike and Jolly Rancher. But the list is far from complete!
Serving the UK retail market
Many companies are starting to wholesale American sweets and chocolates to allow a wider range of UK confectionery retailers to try their luck with this growing trend. Hancocks Cash and Carry stocks a good number of popular brands in its 18 cash and carries across the UK. If delivery is your thing, Stateside Candy Co. offers a wholesale facility in the UK for many American confectionery brands. You can email them at email@example.com for further information. And finally, We Luv Sweets is happy to handle wholesale enquiries whilst American Goodies is fast realising that they might need to set something up very soon indeed.
So there you are. In a truly global economy, the UK confectionery market is quite clearly reaching across the globe in order to bring British sweet lovers an exciting and different range of confectionery to enjoy. Such developments are no longer confined to larger retailers and opportunities such as American confectionery are open to even the smallest of confectionery retailers. Now where did I put my stars and stripes bunting?