Evaluating the Competition

Market background: In 2020, the international scented candle market earned $364.9 million. According to Grand Review Research, this market is expected to continue expanding through the next few years. With candles available in over 2,000 different fragrances, the most popular food candle scents include blueberry, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, lemon, and cherries.

With a 55% market share, the most popular category of candles are container candles such as the one pictured to the right. These candles are popular among consumers because they’re convenient. Since the wax is contained within a container, no other receptacle is needed. These candles often burn longer than pillar candles because the container pools the liquid wax thereby allowing the wick to continue burning.

Fake food candles fall into the other category. Although this is a niche market, this category accounted for approximately 7% of all sales and generated over $25 million in 2020. Even though the sale of such candles is banned in the EU since the government apparently believes that people might actually eat these (even if the first bite was truly horrendous), the stateside market will be more than enough for me given my limited production capacity.

Sizing up the competition: Since any good business plan involves a study of the competition, I went on-line to see what sort of food candles other faux food candle makers are creating.

Cupcake candles are one of the most commonly produced candles on the market. Most seem to consist of a molded cupcake liner topped with a decorative molded frosting with various accents or garnishes added in.

If you look at the above pictures, none of these candles include the “cake” part of the cupcake. My candles pictured right have a simulated cake that can be seen over the liner. The frosting for this candle was hand sculpted and isn’t as pretty as some of the toppings made by the competition. This problem is easily fixed and I’ve ordered a half dozen silicone molds for various frosted toppings.

Tart candles are also popular. Pictured above are two of the nicer candles that I could find on the internet. I particularly like the presentation of the tart in the upper right.

I presently make two types of tarts which are pictured below. The tart in the disposable pan pictured bottom left could be improved simply by crimping the crust. Although this crust was hand made, using the heated tines of a fork to simulate crimping around the sides would add a simple but effective detail. In looking at the tart pictured bottom right, I can also see that I will need to improve the quality of my berries. The strawberry in the foreground is smooth without the characteristic surface feature of this fruit.

Beverages: I don’t currently produce any candle beverages. The problem I’ve had with this sort of candle is that they’re made with candle gel. A medium density gel only holds 4% of its weight in candle fragrance oil. In contrast, a decent soy candle will hold 10% of its weight; giving it a much better aroma.

Having said this, it was fascinating to see what other candle makers have produced. Pictured below from left to right are margarita, cola, beer, and bourbon candles

As Mary said to Tom in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers (1837), “Never say never.” In trying to restock one gallon of medium density candle gel from the local Hobby Lobby, I was disappointed to find that they were out of stock. In googling this product, I found that a surprising number of other vendors were also out of stock. The few who had this product were selling it for 50% or more than what it would have cost at the Hobby Lobby. Instead of paying these exorbitant prices, I went to the source and googled the company that makes this product. While Country Lane was happy to sell me the gel I needed, the smallest amount they would sell was 35 gallons. Since I will shortly have an over abundance of candle gel, I could very well turn my hand to making some candle beverages.

Doughnut candles also appear to be quite popular. These candles aren’t difficult to make and given the variety of frostings and garnishes that are available, the possibilities seem endless.

Pictured below is one of my cinnamon-sugar doughnut candles.

Burger candles: One area where I can clearly excel is with the production of burger candles. Pictured above are two sliders from two different Etsy vendors. The colors for both products are off. Amazingly enough the one pictured in the upper left is listed for an astounding $35.00. The one on the right comes in a set of three for $15.00.

I think my burgers and sliders (pictured below) are much more realistic.

One burger candle which used to be on the market but is no longer produced was actually quite good. I liked the texture of the hamburger patty so much that I’m remaking one of my burger patty molds to better emulate this.

Moving forward with transitioning from a hobby to a business, I think that one of my strengths as a fake food candle maker is that I like making candles that no one else appears to be making.

Pictured below is a grilled fish candle on a bed of rice with bok choy and Chinese cabbage.

Pictured here is an egg roll candle.

This is a BLT (bacon-lettuce-tomato) candle.

I think that if I keep the quality of my products high and introduce new product lines to encourage repeat business, I should do well. The average income for new part-time candle makers is $500/month. I will be THRILLED if I can make this much. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens.

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