"Sega råttor, djungelvrål or lakrits.. smågodis" anyone?* Swedish company Candy People is the first distributor of real Swedish Pick & Mix candy to stores here in the U.S. and they know their candy. With over thirty years of experience in the industry the Malmö based company is one of the oldest companies in Sweden in the pick and mix candy sector. It’s also the first Swedish company to sell Swedish candy in China, and they are now expanding on the U.S. market.

Tasting is believing
Pick and mix candy is part of the Scandinavian culture and tremendously popular. You may have come across products in supermarkets selling their own branded pick and mix candy ... and it does not taste anything like the original. The biggest reason for this failure in taste is simple—ingredients. Candy People has its own private labels and production and they also buy candy from other well-known candy manufacturers like Fazer to ensure the candy they sell is genuinely Scandinavian. Much of the large supermarket’s candy production is based in America, Mexico and China—countries where poor water quality and cheaper ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors result in the candy not even tasting close to as good as the original.

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Spreading the sweetness
In February 2012 Candy People entered the U.S. market as the first distributor of real Swedish pick and mix candy. The first retail store to open in the U.S. was Sockerbit in Manhattan, New York, and Candy People is their supplier of Pick and Mix candy. As of today you can also find the Swedish candy in stores in Austin, Minneapolis, Denver and most recently San Francisco. In 2013 the company plans on expanding to Malaysia and Japan, San Diego and Los Angeles.
After already having established a great presence in Scandinavia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia, the decision to expand to the U.S. was not very difficult, according to Robert Engström, co-owner of Candy People U.S.. The parent company in Sweden already has retailers in over 30 countries around the world and the pick and mix concept has been well received in from China to Dubai.

How would you describe the process of expanding your business to the U.S.?
“It has been very time consuming,” says Engström. “We have spent almost a year negotiating with the FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration). It is not easy for a person wanting to sell Swedish candy to easily enter the U.S. market. However, this is where Candy People comes into the picture.”
The company does not only sell just the candy, they also offer a whole pick and mix merchandising solution. Candy People act as a distributor and supplier that takes care of all the administrative work with the FDA and customs and has large stocks of candy in the U.S. to provide to the retailers. This does not only mean that the candy can be sold at a good price but also that the retail stores are guaranteed fresh and superior tasting candy due to the shorter and controlled transportation.

How does the market differ in the U.S. compared to Scandinavia?
“We have been in the U.S. market less than a year ... so more or less every store is somewhat of a test store. The interest in our products has however proven to be enormous. In San Francisco for example, retailers have called us and told us about all the Scandinavians buying huge volumes of candy. This is very exciting,” says Engström.
We have also noticed that there is a difference in the popularity of the assorted candy between Sweden and the U.S. and even between cities like New York and San Francisco.
Candy People is one of the market leader in Scandinavia and Engström says another difference is the competition, which in Scandinavia and Europe is tougher than the one in the U.S. In the U.S. the Swedish pick and mix candy is new and interesting. And one of the things people seem to miss a lot when they are out travelling is candy. Candy People’s vision is that people should be able to go in to a store and buy the candy that they miss from home, just like any other store back in Sweden.

Natural colors, Swedish quality
The focus and goal for Candy People is to sell high quality candy made from original Scandinavian recipes. The company does not want to compete with low quality candy packed with high fructose corn syrup. Therefore Candy People’s products can only be found in high quality stores that assure fresh and great tasting Swedish candy favorites to their customers.
As a Swede in San Francisco, I recommend you people with a sweet tooth visit Buyer’s Best Friend Wholesale and Mercantile on 1740 Haight Street to buy some real, delicious and authentic tasting Swedish candy from Candy People. It is almost just like the store around the corner back home—only nicer!

By Emilia Åsberg

U.S. stores with Swedish candy:
Sockerbit
89 Christoperh St., New York, NY 10014
212-206 8170
www.sockerbit.com

Buyers Best Friend Wholesale & Mercantile
1740 Haight St,
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 375-0439
http://www.bbfdirect.com/mercantile

Buyers Best Friend Wholesale & Mercantile
450 Columbus Ave,
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 223-3912
http://www.bbfdirect.com/mercato

The Candy Store
1507 Vallejo St, San Francisco, CA 94109
415-921-8000
www.thecandystoresf.com/

American Swedish Institute
2600 Park Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55407 Phone: 612-870 3363
www.ASImn.org

Sugarlicous
3000 E. 3rd Avenue
Denver, CO 80206
303-388 8650
http://sugarliciouscandy.com/

I Got Candy
1904-B Jentscht CT
Austin, TX 78745

Rock Candy Snack Shop
521 Cortland
San Francisco, CA94110
415-948-7497
http://www.rockcandysnackshop.com/

* "Sega råttor, djungelvrål or lakrits.. smågodis" [Tenacious jelly rats, roar of the jungle or licorice.. pick & mix candy]