Kervan Gida is a family-owned business with 25 years’ experience in the confectionery manufacturing sector. Owner of soft candy brands Bebeto and Dexters, Kervan Gida has grown to become Turkey’s largest soft candy producer and exporter, with offices in the UK, USA, Germany and Russia.

Kervan Gida began producing chewing gum under the Kelo?lan brand in 1995, expanding to create Bebeto three years later. In 2015 the UK office was established, helping to secure its global position in the sugar confectionery market. Believing in the power of localisation in respective markets, Kervan Gida bought UK-based Dexters in 2017.

Kervan Gida now employs more than 2,000 team members and has achieved sales over €100m, supplying goods to 90 countries worldwide. Kervan Gida’s mission is to produce and manage its resources in a way that will create value for shareholders, whilst strengthening its knowledge and sector experience to provide its suppliers, customers and most importantly its consumers, with brands and products they adore.

Kervan Gida’s overarching vision is to drive Bebeto to become one of the top five Sugar Confectionery brands worldwide by 2023. The UK office has a pivotal role to play in the expected growth of Kervan Gida.

Having achieved year-on-year growth since it was established, the UK office now distributes the Bebeto and Dexters brands to more than 12,000 retailers across the UK. It has established itself as one of the leading suppliers of sweets across the country and has ambitious plans to maintain this position.

Gabriella Egleton joined Kervan Gida in August 2020 as the UK Brand Marketing Manager. Gabriella is responsible for product development and brand marketing. With ambitious strategic plans, Gabriella’s focus is to drive the Bebeto and Dexters brands to reach wider markets and additional retailers, contributing to the Kervan Gida’s overarching vision. Here Gabriella spoke to Grocery Trader.

What are the key products in your range that supermarkets should be stocking?

We’ve recently launched a range of vegan approved 200g and 70g licorice products under our Bebeto brand. We have lovingly reengineered existing lines with new recipes to achieve vegan approved certification from the Vegetarian Society.

With veganism growing in popularity, it’s important for retailers to ensure they have an inclusive confectionery range that is accessible to a wide audience. Like all our products, they’re 100% Halal certified. We’ve already received excellent uptake and feedback on this new range, so if supermarkets aren’t stocking them already, they should be.

Our 400g Party Mix tubs are also a must stock. Available in both fizzy and gummy variants, they come packaged in a resealable tub, perfect for families who want a safe, sealable product to enjoy in the home. Notably, our Party Mix tubs are also competitively priced especially in comparison to the market leader, affording supermarkets bigger margins and smaller price increase pressures.

What is the value of the UK sugar confectionery market?

During 2020, total sugar confectionery in the UK grew 4% in terms of value to £1.8billion, while volumes rose by 3% to 189.000 tonnes* Although this growth is positive, sugar confectionery brands need to remain vigilant and mindful of the shift in consumer health-consciousness. The government is also set to implement strict regulations by April 2022 on how high-sugar content foods are advertised and sold in the UK, including in-store promotions. Given these pressures, more than ever, it is crucial that brands and supermarkets work together to innovate and diversify.

*Source: Euromonitor Intonational: Market Research Provider

What trends are driving the market?

As environmental concerns grow amongst consumers and supermarkets, brands are becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprints. Here at Bebeto, we fully support the green movement. We’re currently looking at innovative ways to improve our supply chain and reduce our plastic packaging. This will remain a key focus for us.

Notably, the impact of Covid-19 has encouraged consumers to spend more time at home, enjoying ‘big nights in’ and snacking more frequently. Nearly half of UK consumers say they are snacking more at home during office closures. This trend is driving brands to offer a range of pack size options, product variety and competitive pricing. There continues to be a need for share-size products. Resealable packaging is more important than ever. We’re due to release some very exciting family sized NDP in the coming months, so watch this space.

What is Kervan Gida’s market share and how has the company been performing?

Kervan Gida UK has achieved year-on-year growth for the past five years. We continue into 2021 with the same ambition to deliver healthy sales that exceed our forecasts.

We’ve grown to become the market leaders of licorice in the UK cash and carry sector. This year we will also be focusing on our gummy offer.

What effect has Covid-19 had on the sugar confectionery market?

The initial months of 2020 were uncertain and driven by unpredictable consumer behaviour. When things began to settle, the market benefited from a slight boom. Consumers opted for small indulgences. Impulse purchases rose as consumers purchased treats to enjoy whilst being confined at home*

Most notably the use of e-commerce has risen. From supermarkets adopting online store, to challenger brands investing in their websites, consumers now have more options online when it comes to purchasing Sugar Confectionery.

Adversely, consumers have become increasingly health conscious. As such, Sugar Confectionery remains high on the list of products receiving negative press. Consumers are paying more attention to what they are putting into their bodies. Shoppers are choosing healthier options to reduce their sugar intake, with reduced sugar sweets drawing in new consumers. In response, brands like ours are focusing more on quality over quantity. Low and no sugar alternatives are on the rise. We’re currently developing a range of reduced sugar and high fruit juice products ourselves.

*Source: Euromonitor Intonational: Market Research Provider

What will be the long-term impact of changes make during Covid-19?

Both supermarkets and brands have been forced to rapidly adapt to new ways of working. The industry has seen its workforces impacted. The government has adopted new rules and regulations regarding purchasing of food and other grocery products. There continues to be disruptions to supply chains and cancellations of events due to the pandemic situation. In the long term the industry will need to continue to be reactive and adaptable.

What can the industry learn from its experiences during Covid-19?

Both retailers and brands need to ensure they are ready to adapt to changes in buying behavior. Fully-optimised e-commerce platforms have been a lifeline to many this year. As and when consumers shift to increased instore purchasing again, retailers must be ready to create a safe, enjoyable experience for their consumers. Equally, brands need to ensure they offer a point of difference that caters to an inclusive audience.

Given the rise of e-commerce during Covid-19, what will the future look like – will it be possible for e-commerce and in-store sales to work hand in hand?

Many supermarkets have improved their grocery delivery services, they’ve also upped the ante with smart shopping and ‘pay & go’ technology. I believe e-commerce and in-store sales can work together if supermarkets continue to invest in personalised, automated technology that creates bespoke experiences for their customers.

What advice do you have for supermarkets on merchandising sugar confectionery?

In a crowded category, standing out on-shelf is a must. In the first instance, it’s the brand’s responsibility to create packaging that is iconic and highlights key on-pack information.

We’re seeing healthy snacks colonising checkouts. Supermarkets themselves are under pressure to prioritise space in their on-the-go sections for low and no sugar alternatives. Impulse confectionery is now mostly restricted to one aisle, which only a third of shoppers are said to browse. It’s not as easy as it once was for confectionery products to stand out.

My advice to supermarkets merchandising sugar confectionery is to go ‘back to basics’. Shoppers like similar types of products blocked together and often buy something from the secondary sitting.

Sugar confectionery is the most impulsive category in convenience, so carrying a core range including singles, bags and gifts is vital for supermarkets. Retailers should maximise seasonal opportunities through innovative and impactful displays.

How do you work with supermarkets to improve sales?

We love to keep connected and provide as much knowledge and understanding about our brands as possible. We provide regular category updates and keep all our customers informed on our planned NPD, including seasonal items. We use our industry knowledge and insights to inform them on what to stock and when. We often discuss ways to create impactful merchandising through planograms and innovative display options.

What brand activity do you have planned?

2021 is set to be a big year for Bebeto and Dexters. Although we will continue to innovate and release new products, our objective is to invest in brand awareness. Given the current restrictions on events and face-to-face experiences, we’ll be revamping our online presence by focusing on our website and social media. We know that consumer engagement and feedback is invaluable, and we have big plans to interact with our consumers through competitions and engaging content this year.

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