Market Visit Report: Penny Candy Retailing

by Melissa Strle, August 4, 2015

In July, Ikea announced that it will be bringing its popular self-serve “pick and mix” candy sections to the food market section of all Canadian Ikea stores. This new candy section will allow customers to pick Scandinavian candies out of bins and pay by weight. The candies are touted as having no GMO’s, trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavours and will include gummies, sours, marshmallow, chocolate, and liquorice.

Around the world, candies are typically sold by weight, and the United States has virtually phased out penny candy bins at convenience stores. This makes the traditional Canadian penny candy offerings at convenience stores uniquely Canadian.

Couche-Tard and 7-Eleven are the two biggest convenience store operators in Canada, with Couche-Tard also operating the Mac’s banner in Ontario/West and Circle K in Atlantic. For years, these two convenience store operators and other convenience stores in Canada have been providing penny candy bins that let customers pick out a variety of candy.

At Field Agent, we wanted to check out convenience stores across Canada to see if the “penny candy” sections that we enjoyed as kids are still as good as they used to be (and what type of competition Ikea will be facing in Canada). The results were disappointing. Of the 15 c-store retailers we visited, only 10 had a penny candy section and none of the stores really captured our imagination the way that candy should.

Up until recently, 7-Eleven has provided 5-cent candy and Mac’s provides 5-cent and 25-cent candy. However, in July, CBC’s Paul Karchut reported that 7-Eleven just doubled the price of its popular 5-cent candies. Vancouver-based candy provider, Tosuta International stated that it has not raised the 5-cent price in 35 years.

Which penny candies should Canadian stores carry to make the best impression with shoppers? Field Agent recently polled 864 Canadians to find out their favourite penny candy. The results of our poll indicate that the top three penny candies that Canadians would buy include: cola bottles (15.2%), peach slices (13.4%), and sour keys (12.4%). These should be at the top of the list for anyone building a great candy section!

Please click here to view the full report.


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