The North American Sweet 60 is a subset of the Global Top 100 list. In order to qualify for the listing, companies have to be based in North America. Consolidations in the confectionery industry cause ripples in the 2018 annual ranking.
Consolidating production to sweeten the bottom line is the name of the game for a couple of North American candy makers. New York’s Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of The Topps Co. Inc., moved production out of their plant in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, this year to its newly expanded plant in Buenos Aires. Company President Tony Jacobs says the move was to “increase overall efficiency.”
Jacobs, who recently received the National Confectioners Association’s Advocate of the Year Award for his dedication to advocating on behalf of the industry, expects Bazooka sales to increase to $223 million this year. The New York company has seen steady increases each year, almost doubling sales since 2012 when it reportedly did $125 million.
BBX Sweet Holdings, a subsidiary of BBX Capital Corp., of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., also consolidated production from three plants to one. The holding company, which has acquired several candy companies in recent years, closed its Williams & Bennett plant in Boynton Beach, Fla., in 2017, and its Kencraft plant in American Fork, Utah, this year, moving production for both to its Orlando site.
BBX Sweet Holdings also acquired IT’SUGAR last June for about $57 million. IT’SUGAR has about 95 stores in the United States, according to a National Confectioners Association website, and generated around $78 million in sales in the last 12 months ending April 30. Besides those three, BBX now owns nine candy companies including Jer’s Chocolates, Hoffman’s Chocolates, Helen Grace Chocolates, The Toffee Box, Anastasia Confections and Droga Chocolates.
Sales are also good for The Hershey Co., which is expecting a 5 percent increase this year because of its acquisition of Amplify Snack Brands in January. Some of its new brands from Amplify Snacks includes SkinnyPop, Paqui, Tyrrell’s and Oatmega. Hershey ended 2017 with $7.515 billion in sales and is expecting around $7.9 billion in sales at the end of this year, according to its investment relations team.
Chuck Davis has taken over the role of chairman of the Hershey Co., effective May 2, replacing John Bilbrey who has retired. Bilbrey was named Hershey’s ceo in 2011 and chairman in 2015. He retired as ceo last year and was replaced by Michele Buck.
Ferrero North America, a division of the Italian Ferrero Group, has been added to the North American list after its buyout of Nestle’s U.S. candy business in January. It acquired three plants, 296 employees and the brands Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, 100 Grand, Raisinets and Wonka.
On the other end of the spectrum, Standard Functional Food Group, of Nashville, Tenn., sold its snack bar business to Hearthside at the end of 2017, retaining only Goo Goo Clusters. Its sales didn’t allow the company to make the list.
In other news, the Original Gourmet Food Co., of Salem, N.H., has opened a new plant in Natal, Brazil.
The New England Confectionery Co. (NECCO) was acquired by the Spangler Co. as a result of a $18.83-million bid made during an auction on May 23. In a May 4 filing, a federal bankruptcy judge greenlighted the bidding process, noting cash bids of at least $13.96 million must be made before May 18. The Revere, Mass., manufacturer had been looking for a buyer to continue candy making after it sold its headquarters last year for $54 million.
And sales dropped significantly for Gertrude Hawk Chocolates of Dunmore, Pa., after the company sold its ingredients division to Barry Callebaut. Chairman David Hawk expects 2018 sales to be around $50 million. Many of its former 500 employees are now working for Barry Callebaut, leaving Gertrude Hawk with about 175 employees, he says.
Its ice cream and baking inclusions had propelled the company to be a leader in the ingredients market, and Hawk felt the company had gone as far as it could, prompting the sale to the larger Barry Callebaut.