Among the shining stars of the 2022 Global Travel Retail Awards ceremony, which took place on 3 October in Cannes, is the Unicorn & Dragon Lollipops by Chocdecor/Belfine, which was crowned the winner of the Best Confectionery and Fine Foods Product category – as voted for by consumers.
The product, which has gone from operating ‘under the radar’ to featuring centre stage at the awards ceremony, is a fantastic example of how the all-important shopper vote can deliver a well-deserved boost for products that are gaining traction in the channel.
The Travel Retail Awards is the first and only consumer-voted multi-category awards programme dedicated to the travel retail industry.
A such, it is a barometer of the products and airport services and initiatives that are winning over shoppers in the channel.
Steven Candries, Commercial Director, Chocdecor, was not expecting to win on the night.
“I was already proud to be mentioned among all these great brands and established examples in our field,” he said. “So the surprise was immense when I heard the company name and our brand Belfine mentioned.
“Most of you know me – I am a walking smile. But that moment my smile became much wider. I was a very happy man.”
The ‘Made in Belgium’ decorated chocolate lollipops pipped 15 other finalists to the post.
TRBusiness Editorial Director Charlotte Turner revealed that the products appealed in particular for their ‘innovativeness and value for money’, with the bloggers enjoying the tasting experience.
Winning the consumer vote
Asked how he felt to walk up on stage and collect the award, Candries commented: “Chocdecor, with its brand Belfine, is a rather unknown brand for many in the sector. But when they see the product, a number of people will say: ‘Oh yes, I recognise them’.
“Let’s say we operated under the radar, and we now wish to emerge. We wish to get on the shelf, in the larger displays.
“We have made our first inroads in travel retail and duty free with Lagardère IDF at Brussels Airport, with Aer Rianta at Larnaca (through our distributor Lounic) and we even have a presence in duty free at Jeju Island.”
Candries was inspired to enter the awards due to the “attractive rate of sale” of the product.
Taking the time to do so, via the streamlined online entry process, has paid off.
The Unicorn & Dragon Lollipops by Chocdecor/Belfine received a winning score of 8.8 compared to the category average of 8.0.
The lollipops particularly appealed to consumers in North America, the Middle East and Africa, as well as to millennials in general.
Winning a consumer-voted award holds a special significance for the company.
“A year-and-a-half ago, we outlined a strategy with the objective to grow in retail and that we will support our brand Belfine,” said Candries.
“Our vision is the become the ‘King of Pop’ (decorated chocolate lollipops). Winning an entirely consumer-voted award means a lot to the founder Luk Patijn, and the whole company.
“Such a prize elevates and motivates. It gives a feeling of proudness and recognition that the steps we take are the right ones.”
The recognition also helps to back the company’s vision for achieving its growth targets in the future.
“In my previous business life, I built travel retail and duty free step by step with trial and error from scratch to a successful and respectful level,” he said.
“Travel retail was the shop window to the world. The visibility was priceless – I called it intern profitable advertising.
“I want to do the same now, although I know the stepping stones have changed over the last three years.
“But a crisis presents opportunities and I am convinced this is the right timing.
“We know the possible rate of sale and with a bit of support this product deserves a place between the various categories of the confectionery segment.
“Consumers are trading down to trade up on small luxuries and that is where we fit in. This is the gap we wish to play in.
“The company and I remain humble and thus those who might seek to consider the Belfine decorated chocolate lollipops for their offer in-store, please do contact me – you know where to find me.”
The Highly Recommended accolades for the category went to: Cloetta – The Jelly Bean Factory 36 Flavour Mix 175g Tube; Mondelez World Travel Retail – Toblerone Bundles; Lindt & Sprüngli – Lindor Milk Bag 100g; Food2Smile: Represented By Brands of Style – Ready to Smile Box; and Haribo – Travel Parade. You can view a full list of winners here.
The finalists were: Nassma Chocolate – Samha camel milk chocolate coated and filled dates; Alfred Ritter – Ritter Sport 100g Nut Selection Tower; Ferrero – Ferrero Rocher Tablets white chocolate; Haribo – MAOAM -MaoMixx; Nestlé ITR – KitKat Senses Tablets; Perfetti van Melle – Mentos Clean Breath Peppermint Tin; Perfetti van Melle – Mentos Jumboroll Fanta; Walker’s Shortbread – Chocolate Chip Share Bag; and Whittard of Chelsea – Cocoa Creations Hot Chocolate Gift Set.