By Paul Rogers

Whether it was the uncertainty in the global economy, uneasiness over debt troubles in Europe, tight credit markets or manufacturers taking a breather to digest their 2010 conquests, the world’s top confectionery companies kept a low profile in 2011. Merger and acquisition activity paled in comparison to deal-laden 2010, and Candy Industry’s Top 100 list saw relatively few changes.

On the acquisition front, the year saw only two “major” deals and they occurred this past summer within weeks of each other. Sweet Products/Baronie Group purchased Barry Callebaut’s remaining consumer business (eliminating last year’s No. 21 candy company from the Top 100 list and marking the Belgian’s debut at No. 24).

And Nestlé bought a 60% stake in China’s Hsu Fu Chi - a company that should have been on the Top 100 List on its own, with four factories, 16,000 employees and sales of $750 million (including sugar confectionery but also cereal-based snacks and baked goods). The transaction did nothing to shift Nestlé’s position on the list (No. 3) given the gaudy revenue totals sported by the top five players.

Among the handful of smaller deals a few others stood out: Poland’s Mieszko expanded into high-end cookies with its purchase of fellow Pole Lider Artur and pushed into Lithuania by buying full-line confectionery maker Vilniaus Pergalė. The added sales moved Mieszko from No. 99 to No. 82 - the biggest jump from any company on the list.

Finland’s Raisio Group added Big Bear to its British confectionery stable, which already included Glisten. That move lifted the company (listed last year as Glisten) from No. 92 to No. 84.

Brynwood Partners is not on the list because it is a leveraged buyout fund. But with the purchase of Pearson Candy Co. this past summer, it now owns three confectionery companies. Candy Industry estimates that neither Pearson, DeMet’s Candy nor Balance Bar would make this list on its own, but together - with the Brynwood link - their sales tallied more than $200 million in 2011, ranking them, as a group, in the middle of the pack.

Readers will likely notice other movement on the chart as well, some due in part to shifting exchange rates, while other changes stemmed from new information that allowed Candy Industry to hone its estimates - always an ongoing task.

Barcel, for example, dropped from 18 to 27 due to added details on the Bimbo organization, while General Mills jumped from 23 to 13 after it released a fuller accounting for its giant health/energy/granola bar business.

A few new names appear as well. Some merely mark superficial change: Poland’s Jutrzenka, for example, changed its name to Colian, while Colombia’s Grupo Nacional de Chocolates is now Nutresa.

However, a few are new to the Top 100. Debuting in 2011 is Brazil’s Vonpar Bebidas at No. 63 - a full-line confectioner that purchased the Neugabauer chocolate business from compatriot Florestal Alimentos in 2010.

And two names reemerged after some years of absence: Ecuador’s Confiteca reappeared at No. 87 and Brazil’s Peccin at No. 89.

As always, we are always looking to correct any oversights and encourage any reader with information on companies we have inadvertently left off the list to contact Bernard Pacyniak at