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Sweet innovation aids 'stagnant' Russian confectionery

By Angela Drujinina , 22-Aug-2005

Russian firm United Confectioners has used new technology to launch a new range of jelly sweets, tapping in to one of the most promising sectors in Russia's confectionery market.

United Confectioners' member Voronejskaya Konditerskaya Fabrika has launched the Sheikh and Bland ranges, using a unique technology that allows the producer to mix together jelly, pomade and chocolate.

Sheikh jelly sweets come in a range of flavours - pomegranate, strawberries with cream, grapes and mango - and are covered in chocolate glaze.

Bland sweets combine one layer of flavoured jelly with another of flavoured pomade. There are two 'cocktails' to try: Krasnye Nebesa (green tea, 'Bacardi' rum and pomegranate juice); Serebrityi Son (champagne, pineapple, cocoa milk).

Jelly sweets are seen by some analysts as one of the only categories to hold fast growth potential in a confectionery market that has shown signs of stagnation recently. The whole market increased by three-to-four per cent last year.

The new products are positioned as sweets to accompany home tea-drinking and as a pleasant surprise for guests. Voronejskaya has purposefully put the new ranges in the medium price range to attract a larger section of the Russian population.

Disposable incomes are rising in Russia, especially in cities, yet the minimum wage remains a long way below EU members' rates.

And Voronejskaya will may a large take-up of its new sweets to offset high promotional costs, despite the marketing budget in United Confectioners' regional offices being relatively small.

The firm plans to sell 80 tonnes of Sheikh and Bland sweets per month. "Taking into account our capacities, this index is high for our factory," said Denis Bogdanov, director of United Confectioners' advertising.

There are also already 20 other Russian factories producing jelly candies, and every year they increase production - injecting more competition into the market. "Our task is to launch on the existing markets our registered trademarks Sheikh and Bland. This will help us to promote the products better on the market," said a Voronejskaya spokesperson.

Both of the new ranges have an elegant bended package that is intended to make the products look more fashionable. Voronejskaya has also won awards for its confectionery products and manages to export between five and seven per cent to the US, Germany and other former Soviet countries.

Sheikh and Bland can currently be found in shops in Voronej and also in the group's 11 self-owned stores.

Voronejskaya is the biggest sweets producer in the Central Cernozem region and has around 250 different products. It specialises in candies, waffles and zephyr as well as making sweets, biscuits and waffles for diabetics.

The group says one its next major moves will be to manufacture products for diabetics in other sectors too, probably jelly candies, zephyr and caramel.