America’s kids are still sweet on gummies. Mondelēz International (MDLZ) reported “double-digit gains” in dollar sales of the great movie theater concession stand classics Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish in North America in 2013.
In Mondelēz-speak, “double-digit” means between 10 percent and 15 percent. Euromonitor International estimates U.S. sales of Sour Patch Kids—one of the country’s best-selling gummy-or-chew candies—were $184.9 million last year, while sales of Swedish Fish were $111.4 million. The official name for the category is “pastilles, gums, jellies, and chews,” and overall sales of all these were up 6.1 percent.
Mondelēz spokeswoman Valérie Moens said in an e-mail that “the growth was partly driven by distribution expansion”—getting the candies into more stores. It also introduced a new variety in September, Sour Patch Kids Chewy Lineups. When it comes to candy, new launches and flavors often boost sales, says Euromonitor analyst Matt Hudak. Sour Patch Kids in particular are getting a boost because sour flavors are in vogue now. Hudak also credits new marketing initiatives. For instance, the brand teamed up with rewards company Kiip last year to offer free samples to people who downloaded games with the Kiip rewards feature. The Sour Patch offers were redeemed hundreds of thousands of times, according to Kiip. In 2012, it launched a Sour Patch Kids game. The brand has nearly 4 million likes on Facebook (FB).
On the other hand, Swedish Fish, Hudak says, benefits from nostalgic parents. “Swedish Fish have always been a surprisingly steady and strong performer,” he says. “The product is bought mostly by kids, but there are plenty of parents, I think, who ate this and are comfortable with this being the candy that their kids eat.” They’re marketed as “a fat-free food,” which might help. (In fact, all gummies are fat-free, although some other chewy candies, such as Twizzlers and Skittles, are not.)
Mondelēz sales of chewing gum—a category that includes such brands as Chiclets, Stride, and Trident—were down, though it appears they’re hoping to ride on the coattails of Sour Patch’s success. In January, Mondelēz launched Stride Sour Patch Kids gum, though consumers could find such Sour Patch extension harder to swallow.