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How Ferrara Is Solidifying Its Position as Leader in Sugar Confections

Company executives talk with Progressive Grocer about product innovation, retailer support and more
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Ferrara SSE
Ferrara's many mascots graced the floor of the National Confectioners Association's Sweets & Snacks Expo earlier this month.

When stepping onto the show floor at this month’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in Indianapolis, it was hard not to notice the giant Jelly Belly or the oversized Nerds candy mascots posing with passersby. Indeed, the Ferrara brands had a massive presence at the event, and executives from the company spoke with Progressive Grocer about innovations, seasonal successes and more.

Though it has been the sugar confections leader in the United States for more than a year, Ferrara is showing no signs of slowing down. The company, which is home to brands including Trolli, Brach’s, SweeTarts, Nerds and, most recently, Jelly Belly, is seeing gains in both its everyday business and its seasonal business thanks to a steady flow of new and innovative products. 

[RELATED: Exciting Trends Emerge From Sweets & Snacks Expo]

That innovation pipeline took off back in 2020 when Ferrara gave the popular Nerds candy a major facelift by launching Nerds Gummy Clusters, explained the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Greg Guidotti. What followed has been a flurry of innovative new takes on old favorites, including last year’s release of Trolli Electric Crawlers and SweeTarts Gummies Fruity Splitz. 

This year, Ferrara is launching even more unique products into the sugar confections category. Those new releases include Lemonhead Ropes, which Guidotti said came about in an effort to make the form of the more than 60-year-old Lemonhead candy more relevant. The resulting product is a softer take on the classic, with what Guidotti described as a bright, almost puckering citrus flavor on the front, followed by a smooth lemon flavor on the back.

Ferrara will also introduce shape innovations to several of its perennially popular brands, including Trolli Sour Brite Squad and SweeTarts Gummy Halos.

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Lemonhead Ropes
Lemonhead Ropes are among the innovative new products coming out this year from Ferrara.

Additionally, Ferrara is leveraging its seasonal favorite Brach’s brand to round out all four seasons with innovative, sometimes boundary-pushing, new candies. According to Katie Duffy, the company’s VP and general manager for seasonal, the 120-year-old Brach’s brand makes up about 50% of Ferrara’s seasonal business and is the leader in candy corn, candy canes, conversation heart and jelly beans.

Among the new seasonal releases for Ferrara are Mellowcreme Autumn Leaves in caramel apple, pumpkin spice, salted butterscotch and spiced cider flavors; Spooky Nerds Gummy Clusters; holiday soft jellies in snowman, light bulb, star, stocking tree and gingerbread man shapes; Trolli Abominable Snowmen; and more.

“How do you really push it?” Guidotti mused. “Will you make a snowman? No, let's make an abominable snowman. It really speaks to the fun factor in pushing the boundary of what you can expect in the seasonal product.”

As for Ferrara’s continued forward trajectory, Chief Customer Officer Edward Taylor explained that the confectioner is looking not only to close the approximately $1.2 billion household penetration opportunity gap between sugar confections and chocolates, but also to help retailers do the same by leveraging the right insights, the right vision for the category, and the right proof points.

“If you look at the entire confectionery category, sugar confections is outpacing general confectionery, and Ferrara is leading that growth for the category,” Taylor explained. “We think we're in a unique position as an organization to support retailers.”

Continued Taylor: “My focus is how through our innovation, through our brand support, how do we help retailers get their fair share of that household penetration opportunity? We’re 100% focused on sugar versus some of the other competitors that we’ve got. We're doing everything in that space and we're actually driving that growth.”

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