Even the health-conscious can eat sweets, thanks to a small, but growing selection of natural/organic confections on supermarket shelves.
Chocolate bars, licorice, gum and other candy are part of the mix, which is being sold in natural store-within-a-store sections, as well as in-line.
For instance, a Grand Union Co. store in North Bellmore, N.Y., merchandises three stockkeeping units of Newman's Own chocolate bars -- sweet dark chocolate, milk chocolate with rice crisps and espresso sweet chocolate -- on the top shelf of its in-line candy section, just below pegged items. The bars sell for $1.09 each.
The bars are manufactured by Newman's Own Organic, a division of Newman's Own, Aptos, Calif.
Other brands of natural and organic confections are on the market as well, such as those from Cloud Nine, Hoboken, N.J., which sells three organic chocolate bars under the Tropical Source name. Selling at a suggested retail of $1.99 to $2.49, the bars are available in java roast, hazelnut crunch and green tea crisp.
Wegmans Food Markets, Tops Friendly Markets, Safeway and King Soopers are among the chains carrying the line, according to Ken Vickerstaff, executive vice president at Cloud Nine, which also plans to introduce an organic breath mint -- Speak Easy -- in August, at a suggested retail of 89 cents to 99 cents.
An employee at a Ridgemont, N.Y., Wegmans unit, which features a store-within-a-store natural-food department called Nature's Market, said her store's organic candy selections include Bearitos black and red licorice at $2.09 for a 7-ounce package; Rapunzel chocolate bars, $1.99 for a 1.35-ounce bar; and St. Claire's cinnamon snips, $2.99 for a 100-count package. Wegmans officials declined to comment.
Though most supermarkets merchandise natural/organic candy in their natural-food sections, some, like Grand Union and Tops, are putting it in their traditional candy section.
"Some stores are creating natural sections within their candy sections. The idea there is that most mainstream customers shop the candy section, not natural," said Vickerstaff of Cloud Nine.
Tops, headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., offers a variety of organic selections, including Tiger's chocolate, in a natural section located just before the main candy section, according to a store-level source at an Amherst Boulevard unit in Buffalo.
Several King Soopers and Safeway units in Colorado have been testing St. Claire's Truly Organic Peppermints by EcoNatural Solutions, Boulder, Colo., said Debra St. Claire, an herbalist and founder of the company. Both chains have had the product in their natural sections for the last year and are considering moving it in-line, according to St. Claire.
Truly Organic Peppermints are said to contain organic cane juice, peppermint oil and gum tragacanth. EcoNatural also offers other organic treats under the St. Claire's name, including lemon tarts, cocoa sweets, spearmints and licorice.
Little Bear Organic Foods, Pacific Palisades, Calif., sells mostly organic groceries, but has several SKUs of Bearitos Licorice. Andrew Jacobson, company president, said that while organic candy has experienced substantial sales growth, it still has potential.
"It gives customers who don't want bioengineered products an alternative," he said. "Organic candy rounds out what supermarkets are trying to do with their natural-food sections." Little Bear's licorice is sold at Tops and Wegmans, among others, according to Jacobson.
Natural and organic candy is also available at Rainbow Foods, Hopkins, Minn., a division of Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, according to Debbie Leland, natural-food and grocery buyer. A 4-foot candy section within the retailer's 1,200-square-foot natural-food section offers Little Bear organic licorice, Glenny's chocolate and hard candy, Panda licorice and candy and Tropical Source chocolate bars. Leland said Rainbow has no plans to move the mix in-line.
"We want to keep natural-food products together. That's been our success because a lot of our customers shop that way. [The] candy wouldn't move if you put it in-line," she said.