Chicago — Outside of jack-o’-lanterns and witches hats, candy corn is easily the most recognizable symbol signifying Halloween and the start of fall. And when it comes to candy corn, Ferrara Candy Co., Inc. is the leading player with a market share that exceeds 83 percent during the season, according to Peter Goldman, senior director of Brach’s & Seasonal Confections.
In fact, the candymaker produces about 95 percent of all candy corn made annually, Goldman tells Candy & Snack TODAY, explaining: “That makes us the largest player in candy dish, decorating and sharing on the non-chocolate side.”
While candy corn sales have been flat during the past few years, many channels that are seeing growth don’t report sales data to IRI. These include value players, which “have seen some good success,” he says. “We believe the growth is understated.”
As a product strongly tied to autumn, candy corn sales do taper off outside the seasonal period, according to Goldman.
“Candy corn is a little polarizing,” he says. “Without the signal of the fall season and that approach, the distribution levels fall off.”
However, he says there is always a steady base of candy corn consumers seeking the products out year round. Additionally, Ferrara leverage its dominance in the sector during other seasons with variations on candy corn, such as pastel pieces with fruit flavors for Easter.
“More recently we’ve started to stretch out and be more creative. Not that we are reaching for completely unique flavors, just unique to candy corn,” Goldman says. “As the leader in candy corn, one of our goals is to bring our customers innovation, and we do that by looking at a variety of flavor and line extensions.”
As the candymaker has a portfolio of strong brands, the ability to take a sales leader from other segments, such as jellies or gummies, and translate into candy corn is giving Ferrara a leg up in expanding the sector’s reach.
“We are blessed at Ferrara to have a lot of great brands now and the opportunity to bring some of those into major seasonal usage occasions was really important,” he says. For example, Goldman notes the company had been working on a sanded candy corn for a few years, and leaned into the Trolli brand for inspiration.
“We saw the Trolli brand experiencing big growth, plus the gummies have dual colors, and we started making connections there,” he explains. Additionally, by leveraging the Trolli brand, Ferrara could expand its candy corn’s appeal to younger demographics.
Ferrara is using more than its brands’ power to drive candy corn sales. For example, the company’s qualitative research uncovered that candy corn is often eating with peanuts. This led to Brach’s Mini Candy Corn & Chocolate Peanuts.
“With peanuts and candy corn, we found by including chocolate it adds a layer of flavor and texture,” he explains.
The company is also working to extend the season for candy corn with unique shapes and flavors such as unicorns, mermaids and footballs.
“Fall obviously, and Halloween to a lesser extent, coincides with the start of football at all levels,” Goldman says. “We encourage placement of our candy corn footballs in tailgating and snack sections. It is definitely an area of opportunity we are always looking at.”
When it comes to Halloween and the overall Ferrara portfolio, Goldman tells Candy & Snack TODAY the integration of Nestle’s brands have led to significant growth during the holiday.
“We are going to continue to focus on uniting our great brands into new combinations,” he says. “For us, candy corn is always going to be a focus, but trick-or-treating is still the largest usage occasion during the season, and we feel there is still room for growth.”