The organic fruit flavored snacks will launch in the fall and will be made with real fruit juice and puree and also will be gluten-free and vegetarian, CEO Lisa Rowland Brasher said at the Snacks and Sweets Expo in Chicago May 21.
The organic jelly beans also will be vegetarian and gluten-free, but a launch date has not yet been set, said Brasher, who confessed that she “accidently spilled the beans” about the organic line, which has not yet been officially announced.
The organic jelly beans will include at least two varieties – a bag of five sour flavors and a bag of 10 regular flavors – all made with real fruit juice and purees, just like the fruit-flavored snacks launching in the fall, according to the company.
“This is really exciting for our company,” said Brasher. She explained that the company wanted to launch an organic line because organic is one of the biggest trends right now.
“Everywhere you look you see everything organic,” she said.
While organic is on-trend right now, the potential for organic candy likely is not as significant as for other meal parts, according to a spokesperson from the market research firm The Hartman Group.
“The potential for organic candy would be primarily the core group of consumers (those most passionately involved in the world of organics), but this is a small percentage of the population,” said Blaine Becker, senior director of marketing and business relations at Hartman.
“Most households look to fresh foods first for organics. The attraction for organic candy would be the same reasons as why consumers purchase organics ‘free from,’ knowing the source of the ingredients and cleaner, better tasting ingredients and so on. Other reasons for that would skew largely toward their overall desires to eat healthier, perhaps to support fair trade (chocolate) and likely to experiment with emerging new organic sweeteners (agave, etc.),” Becker explained.
While a large player in the confectionery segment, Jelly Belly will not be the first company to launch an organic jelly bean. Surf Sweets already operates in the organic candy space, selling jelly beans that are “drenched with fruit flavor and made with organic sweeteners and organic fruit juice,” according to the firm’s website.
Like, Jelly Belly’s upcoming beans, Surf Sweets’ beans also are gluten-free, but they have an additional Non-GMO Project Verified seal, according to its website. The non-GMO certification is redundant considering that organic certification is only available for non-GMO products, but because many consumers do not know that organic is non-gmo, many companies opt for the double certification.
“Non-GMO claims are really starting to pick up steam, as is gluten-free” for candies and confections, said Jared Koerten, a U.S. analyst with Euromonitor. He said firms are reaching for this certification likely as a way to address consumer concerns about ingredients, and as way to give consumers permissions to eat treats.
For similar reasons, natural claims may be a more fertile area of growth than organic for confections, given that they tap into the healthier-for-you mentality of consumers but require fewer resources for a firm to gain than organic certification because there is not a set, rigorous standard, said Koerten.
Jelly Belly already markets all-natural options for consumers who want a sweet treat, but are avoiding artificial flavors and colors, Brasher said. The firm’s Superfruit Mix includes 100% naturally flavored cranberry, acai berry, blueberry, babados cherry and pomegranate jelly beans, Brasher said.
Obtaining vibrant natural colors is more difficult than achieving bright artificial colors, and as a result natural colored candy tends to favor the reds, pinks, oranges and purple hues, said Toni Worobel, sales and marketing manager for Original Gourmet Food Company, which makes a wide variety of lollipops, including a line of Sweetly Natural Lollipops.
During a separate interview at the Snacks and Sweets Expo, Worobel added that working with natural flavors also is more difficult and requires more flavoring to attain the same level of intensity as with artificial flavors. As a result, the Sweetly Natural Lollipops are about twice as expensive as conventional lollipops, but they still have a “big, juicy flavor,” she said.