Skip to main content

Exotic flavor combinations set to sweeten candy sales


Once-exotic flavors are becoming mainstream in the candy category. Consumers, quick to adopt new flavor profiles, are snapping up new fruit flavors and experimenting with interesting combinations in the confectionery aisle.

“The American population is becoming more daring in the taste and flavor category,” said Jenn Ellek, spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association. Ellek said three areas of influence to watch are Latin and Asian flavors, as well as superfruits. “Beyond pomegranate, [now] lychee, acai berry and guava are upcoming flavors,” she said.

Sugar-free gum as a category has been a leader in innovative flavor combinations. Wrigley, in particular, has pioneered new flavors. “Fruit flavors have been a key contributor to gum and candy growth, and Wrigley continues to introduce new flavors and innovations to leverage this trend and delight consumers,” said Jennifer Jackson-Luth, senior manager of marketing communications for Wrigley. “Recent and upcoming new fruit flavors include Orbit Pina Colada, Strawberry Mint and Positively Pomegranate.”

Two of Wrigley’s newest introductions are Eclipse Breeze exotic mint and exotic berry, sugar-free pellet gum that contains cardamom oil. The ingredient, derived from the ginger family, has been used for centuries in Asia and India to freshen breath and has become “an increasingly common ingredient in the profile of North American food and beverage products,” Jackson-Luth said.           

Gummy candies and jelly beans have followed the segment’s lead and are adding new flavors to their lineups. “New products introduced every year are what keeps the category so vibrant and reflect trends in new food flavors,” said Tomi Holt, a representative for Jelly Belly. Holt said Jelly Belly tracks consumer suggestions for new flavor ideas. When the company set out to develop a new Kid Mix, it interviewed kids to determine which flavors they love most — Very Cherry, Green Apple and Watermelon were the favorites. The 20-flavor Kid Mix will hit store shelves in February.

Superfruits also are high on the list of popular flavors. “When interest in pomegranates exploded a few years ago, Jelly Belly introduced a pomegranate flavor, and today it’s high in the ranking of most popular flavors,” Holt said. Papaya and melon have become mainstream flavors as well. “People return to the comfortable flavors, but comfortable flavors change,” said Lisbeth Echeandia, VP trade marketing for Frey Enterprises. Echeandia expects green tea, which has a health halo, to become a more important flavor in candy.

Jelly Belly’s Holt said fusion flavors that combine flavors in interesting ways, such as Acai Berry and Barbados Cherry, are two examples of new fruits that are gaining acceptance among consumers. Both flavors are included in Jelly Belly’s Superfruit.

Sweet and sour combinations also are becoming more popular within the category. In October, Wrigley’s Life Savers Gummies Sweet Strings ‘N Sour Rings will hit store shelves. The product combines sweet and sour flavors, such as Sour Fruit Punch and Sour Green Apple squiggle shapes alongside Sweet Cherry and Sweet Raspberry classic “ring with a hole” shapes for an entirely new flavor.

NCA’s Ellek said consumers also are interested in spicier flavors. “At the same time that exotic flavors are taking off, spicy flavors are also daring consumer taste buds, whether through a blast of heat in an otherwise sweet jelly bean or the tang of jalapeno in chocolate,” she said. Jelly Belly, for example, recently introduced a Chili Mango flavor.

The sweet and spicy combination has been especially strong in the chocolate category where chili pepper and wasabi are finding their way into premium chocolates.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds