Aimed at young families, Very Berry Jellies, Sour Faces and Jelly Aliens are rolling out at the end of the month. They will join the brand's existing sharing bag lines, which contain Rowntree's classics such as Randoms, Fruit Pastilles, Jelly Tots and Fruit Gums (all rsp: £1.48).
The new products, which are part of a £7m investment in the Rowntree's brand in the first half of 2011, would fill a gap in the Rowntree's line-up, said Nestlé trade communications manager Graham Walker.
"There is an opportunity for the Rowntree's brand," he said. "When you look at our portfolio we are not currently involved in the sharing bag market for young families."
However, news of their launch drew criticism from branding experts, who accused Nestlé of copying Haribo. "It feels a tad disappointing after the originality of the Randoms concept, which managed to have a playful yet adult and kid-friendly proposition," said Kate Waddell, managing director of consumer brands at branding agency Dragon Rouge. "These feel more obvious mimics of Haribo."
Nestlé denied that the sweets, which contain at least 25% fruit juice and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, were being launched in response to Haribo's success.
"This is a natural extension to the Rowntree's brand rather than a reaction to what other brands are doing," said Walker. "The market is moving in a new direction and we are responding to this."
However, in the past 12 months, Haribo has overtaken Rowntree's in the gums and jellies market, according to SymphonyIRI data. Its sales have risen 15.7% year-on-year to £94.8m compared with a more modest 3.4% rise for Rowntree's to £88.2m [grocery impulse 52w/e 26 February 2011]. l Haribo is getting into the spirit of the Royal Wedding with the launch of limited-edition Hearts & Rings and Other Nice Things sweets in 180g sharing bags (rsp: £1.29).