The Allan Candy Company Limited


Founded in 1931 in Hamilton, Ont., The Allan Candy Company Limited gained and retained its name from its visionary founder Allan Vertlieb, who first started producing lollypops in his kitchen, and selling them from his home. The Allan Candy Company is a leading North American manufacturer of quality chocolate and sugar confectionery products.

The Allan Candy Company Limited markets its own iconic brands such as Big Foot, Hot Lips, Laces, SayBon, and Dessert Bites, while Allan Candy’s Bulk, Pick and Mix, and Pick a Treat franchises deliver candy lovers a wide assortment of sugar confectionery in the soft, toffee and hard candy forms. In addition, Allan leverages its iconic brands, marketplace scale, confectionery and nuts expertise to develop and deliver a substantial range of confectionery products to address the health and well being needs and concerns of today’s consumer.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with James Benson, Vice-President of Marketing, about The Allan Candy Company vision, values and plans.

Allan Candy has a strong bulk business in both the Canadian and U.S. markets. In addition, it offers high performing retail branded products and has a considerable seasonal  business in Canada. Most famous for being “the Easter bunny company”, Allan Candy has a significant market presence during Easter and the Christmas seasons, leading the way in the Easter novelty chocolate segment with such brands as Mr. Solid, Mr. Munchy and Eggztra. Allan Candy also leads the Canadian candy cane market with products sold under the Allan brand.

“The industry is being challenged by off-shore products coming into the market, so we doubled our effort to regain renewed relevance in the key seasons through innovation. Besides seasonal, we are a substantial player in the bulk candy segment in both Canada and the U.S.,” says Benson. However, what distinguishes the company from the offshore imports is the fact that Allan Candy offers its clients a direct and immense capability to develop new, customized products. The company laboratories turn two-dimensional ideas into 3D product renditions and create product molds, as well as suitable colour schemes and flavours for products as required by clients.

“We are able to create candies in a vast variety of shapes, flavours and formats. The Granby, Que. facility has vast capabilities allowing us to deliver hard candy, toffees/fudges/éclairs, gummies and starch based mogul products, licorice and lollipops. Also, to keep up with the customer demands, our facility is peanut-free, and we obtained SQF Level 2 certification [SQF is the only auditing program recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)].”

While the company has built its market presence on bulk products, the company products also have a significant presence in the Canadian retail sector. The company’s biggest brands are Big Foot, Laces, and company’s new product line called Dessert Bites. “With over 40 years of brand equity, Big Foot has been a great brand for us. We made a big bet on this product, and introduced innovation to this brand, and we have five SKUs [Original, Sour Blur Raspberry, Sour Berry Lemonade, Sour Green Apple, Orange Cream Pop] in this portfolio,” says Benson.

Confectionery in Canada

According to the Euromonitor International, the retail sales of sugar confectionery reached $591 million and 35,000 tonnes in 2010, and the industry noted a continuance in consumer shift towards health and wellness snack and indulgence choices. To this Benson said, “The lifestyle shift and healthier choices on the part of parents has affected all [candy] categories, as has the decline in birth rates and lower percentage of young people within the population. Our current biggest challenge is to develop products that meet both flavour and indulgence requirements, and deliver this while being a healthier option.”

With its prominent space in the North American confectionery space and industry knowledge, Allan Candy continues to work on research of more healthy snack and indulgence options. The company already produces sugar-free products for its clients, however, according to Benson, the trick is in creating a sugar-free product that delivers on taste. “A key consumer benefit related to the chocolate pieces segment is the idea of portion control. Our new product line Dessert Bites offers fewer calories and fat than most other chocolate pieces items while delivering on flavour, and giving the consumer the opportunity to control the portion. We are also planning to launch a variety of items with fewer calories and use more natural ingredients, such as natural flavours and colourings in production. We are currently also working on a new superfruit product, as the consumer had been looking in this direction for some time now.”

While the sugar confection category may be in decline, chocolate confection remains a growing space for the industry, and for Allan Candy. The chocolate category has shown a growth of almost three per cent in 2010, and is projected to grow by two per cent annually, and reach $2.8 billion by 2015. “Growth in the chocolate pieces segment has been a significant contributor to category growth. Our Dessert Bites portfolio offers consumers an indulgent treat in a pieces format which allows for portion control … a handful is all you need,” says Benson.

Growth Plans and Ideas

With over 400 product SKUs, possibilities and options in the Allan Candy portfolio, the company offers a massive product assortment to its clients, whether its bulk, private label or retail. “Our vision is to continue to grow our retail brands while partnering with our clients on our private label side. One key growth driver for us now and into the future will be the development of the U.S. market. We see our biggest growth driver in maximizing the opportunities in the U.S. market. Our pillars for growth remain in continuous innovation in our Canadian bulk and retail segments, and in private label development in Canada and the U.S.”

Benson disclosed that Allan Candy created a group of brokers led by an experienced National Director of Sales in the U.S., and the group and the company are currently evaluating the U.S. market and developing a plan for this expansion.

Allan Candy continues to build business on its passion to innovate and deliver consumers the product they crave. While the market is changing and people seek healthier indulgence options, Allan Candy, its industry savvy management, extensive product line, and strong R&D keep the company in the industry’s sweet spot — ahead of the curve.