2020 is proving to be an important year for HARIBO.

The company is celebrating its centennial in style with the limited-edition Passport Mix featuring HARIBO gummies from around the world, as well as with the groundbreaking of its first North American production facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, set tentatively for this fall.

Lauren Triffler, head of corporate communications for HARIBO, recently spoke to Candy Industry about its century-long legacy, plans for the new facility and what’s next for the gummy manufacturer.

CI: How does it feel for HARIBO to celebrate 100 years? 

LT: We’re proud to celebrate this special milestone together with all those who made it possible — our associates, customers and consumers. 

Our 100th anniversary is a point of excitement for our HARIBO team, and as you know, specifically in the U.S. we’ve launched Passport Mix to celebrate with our fans. Passport Mix is a limited-edition gummy mix that allows consumers to try gummies from around the world in one bag. It contains a variety of shapes and flavors and is available for a limited time at Walgreens, CVS, 7-11, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Five Below and Circle K. 

For a century, our fun, flavorful treats have inspired moments of childlike happiness for gummy fans of all ages, and we’re looking forward to continuing that tradition for the next 100 years. 

CI: Why is HARIBO developing a North American production facility? Why now? 

LT: Expanding to North America is another exciting milestone for the HARIBO business. Producing our treats in the U.S. will enable us to meet growing demand from our consumers for our iconic Goldbears, as well as other products like Twin Snakes and Starmix

Our U.S. production facility will help us better serve our customers and consumers with speed and efficiency. It will also help the U.S. consumer base to get to know our brand, who we are and what we believe in. 

We are already partnering with local organizations in Pleasant Prairie, including the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Gateway College. We believe everyone deserves access to quality, affordable education, and we’re investing in today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce to ensure that happens. 

CI: How would you describe the reception of HARIBO products in the U.S.? Has it grown over the years?

LT: We’re excited to say that HARIBO has been very well-received, and our fans tell us our gummies are the highest-quality on the market in terms of flavor and texture. Our results echo that sentiment, as HARIBO is the No.1 gummy brand in the U.S. with significant double-digit growth over the last five years (both brand and category). 

Since inventing the gummy bear in 1922, we’ve been committed to innovation in expanding our product portfolio to meet the evolving wants and needs of our consumers. Some recent examples of that include our Z!NG sour gummy line featuring Z!NG Sour Streamers, which was the No. 1 new sour non-chocolate peg item in 2019. 

Also in 2019, we released our HARIBO Watermelon triple-layer gummy, which is now the fastest growing non-chocolate PEG variant in the U.S. Our Watermelon gummy contributed +$3.4 million to YTD total non-chocolate category growth (IRi, year ending May 17, 2020). 

CI: Why was the Pleasant Prairie site an ideal location for the facility? 

LT: For the last 100 years, we’ve been a family-run business, and we are now in our third generation. For that reason, our executive team was heavily invested in choosing the location of our first-ever North American factory. We wanted to ensure the area fit with our core values and provided a place where associates would be proud to work. 

Pleasant Prairie was the perfect choice for us in the Midwest because of the hospitality, strong work ethic, familiar German roots and wonderful neighbors. Pleasant Prairie is also close to our headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois. We’ve received a warm welcome from the Village of Pleasant Prairie and all of Wisconsin as we get established in our new home, and we’re proud to partner with organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Gateway College to give back to the community and support local initiatives. 

CI: Which HARIBO products will be produced there? What will the expected capacity be? 

LT: Our U.S. production facility will begin with producing HARIBO’s iconic Goldbears, with other treats like Sour Goldbears, Twin Snakes and Starmix to follow. We currently produce 100 million Goldbears every day in our 16 factories around the world, and our newest factory will help us send even more Goldbears to our consumers in the U.S.  

CI: What will the facility’s square footage be? How many people will it employ? 

LT: The first phase of construction will include a 487,400-sq.-ft. production building with a warehouse and administrative office spaces. This will include a three-story production area with an attached two-story building that will have offices for administrative work. 

An 87,866-sq.-ft., one-story warehouse building will connect at ground level to the production building by a 475-ft. passageway. The full development will be completed in phases on 136.8 acres of property. We anticipate having up to 385 full-time employees upon completion of phase one, with more opportunities to follow as we continue to make progress on construction.

CI: When will construction begin? When do you expect the facility to be operational? 

LT: Our groundbreaking is tentatively planned for September 2020, pending any shifting timelines due to COVID-19 safety guidelines. We expect to be operational in 2022, with the caveat that timing may need to be flexible due to our current environment and any precautions that need to be taken. The safety of our associates, partners, vendors and all stakeholders is our No. 1 priority.

CI: Once it becomes operational, what do you hope having this additional capacity will do for HARIBO? 

LT: One of our main objectives for building this factory in the U.S. is to better serve our customers and consumers in producing and shipping gummies with speed and efficiency. Our consumers will have greater access to our products as we continue to unlock distribution while we produce local inventory. Also as we progress through construction in later phases, we plan to offer a variety of experiences for consumers to introduce them to the HARIBO brand and help them learn about our history, values and how our products are made. 

CI: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

LT: Reaching our groundbreaking in 2020, the same year we’re celebrating our 100th anniversary, is thrilling for us and a great source of pride for our teams. We can’t wait to start production in our U.S. facility and become part of the Pleasant Prairie community for the long-term. Our goal is to continue inspiring childlike happiness and fun through our treats, and we have many exciting things planned for the future to do just that. This is just the beginning.