Sour economy doesn't worry BestSweet

At a time when the economy is souring, one manufacturer in Mooresville is about to launch a new product.

For many companies, that might be a risky move as the economy slows. But it's not for BestSweet Inc., a leading manufacturer of private-label cough and throat drops. Those products tend to fare well even amid economic slumps, the company says.

BestSweet has developed Bee M.D., an organic, honey-based throat drop. Production is planned to start in July, with shipments set to begin Aug. 1. The goal is to get the product into stores in time for the cold and flu season.

The company isn't worried about rising gas prices or a slumping economy, even though Bee M.D. will be priced higher than some competitors, said Harry Overly, vice president of marketing and innovation.

BestSweet, which counts major drugstore chains among its customers, is targeting its product to affluent moms of kids ages 3 to 15. The company is also highlighting the cough drop's eco-friendly aspects and will donate part of its sales to research into protecting bees.

With other product launches planned for the year, the company expects to boost staff by about 10 percent in 2008, Overly said. The plant currently employs about 275.

“In this economy, because we are the largest store-brand cough drop manufacturer, we benefit from growth of the private label,” Overly said. “When you're ill, if you try a product and it works, you stick with it.”

Another part of the company that's growing well is the pharmaceutical division, which develops ways of putting medicine and vitamins into candy form. Kerry Hall