Despite its clout in the sector, the brand is facing increasing challenges arising from inflationary price hikes as well as rapidly changing regulations.
“For us inflation has hit key ingredient supplies such as gelatine and sugar, and there is overall a shortage of ingredients due to the war as well as logistics and other rising costs from various contingent issues,” Haribo Senior Trade Marketing Specialist Gabriele Scotti told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“There has also been an increased in regulations regarding sugar in the mainstream domestic markets – this is a sensitive category which is very often in the spotlight, and the fact is that sugar-free or less sugar just does not work well for the gummy category.
“We have already tried to develop down this route with a 30% less-sugar product in France previously, but this did not work because consumers responded that it just tastes different, and with gummies being part of the indulgence and enjoyment category people just do not want to think about the sugar and calories when eating these.
“There are other ways of looking at this innovation, such as with vegetarian products – but again for gummies it doesn’t work well because using vegetarian gelatine just causes the gummies to lose their fluff and become another product entirely.”
In response to these ongoing challenges, Haribo is looking to focus on multipack product development, which would involve the production and promotion of retail packs that contain multiple mini packets of Haribo gummies based on certain themes.
“Multipacks mean that consumers can have more choice with each purchase and are also able to share the consumption experience with others, which is a big draw especially for occasions that involve gatherings or when travelling,” he said.
“It is not only more value for money but also enables the satisfaction of multiple different tastes and formats with one pack, from sour to cola and from bears to worms – it’s all about the variety.
“There is another aspect to this being that these mini multipacks allow for better portion control as well, which ties in with the theme of consumers still being able to eat their favourite gummies with great taste yet easily able to control the amount of treats at the same time, knowing that one bag is not a sin.”
The other route by which Haribo is looking to boost growth is by further penetration into halal-focused markets, calling for innovation to switch from pork to beef gelatine in its products for these markets.
“The halal market is becoming increasingly important to us especially in Asia and the Middle East, and the way we are working here is to use beef gelatine which can still provide the same gummy texture,” he added.
“We have developed halal multipacks as well which are doing well and certainly will be focusing on making more variants from our large portfolio available to this consumer group.”
Gummy innovation – harder than expected
Although Haribo has developed an enormous range of products over the past century since its 1920 inception, gummy innovation is actually more complicated than that of other confectionery products due to the involvement of gelatine.
“Pork gelatine has always been our go-to as it is the softest, but there is still a lot of research that goes into adapting this to make different textures and flavours for the different varieties,” he said.
“This product development is already more complicated than regular candy development, and when it comes to meeting multiple consumer needs such as using beef for halal variants, there is another level of R&D that is needed.
“Then there is also the consideration for other markets as well, such as for consumers in India who don’t consume beef – which basically means that a lot of work is needed for product diversification, and this limits global assortments to some degree.”