At the last minute, there’s been a shakeup for the top spots in the Global Top 100 as the No. 3 candy company just got a little bigger and inched its way to No. 2. Italian-based Ferrero Group has increased its sales portfolio with its acquisition of Chicago-based Ferrara Candy in December.

United States-owned Mondelez International comes in at a close third — for now. Next year, expect to see Ferrero with an even greater lead as Ferrara’s annual sales are around $1 billion. Under the agreement, Ferrara will operate as a separate unit maintaining headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace, while Ferrero will stay in Luxembourg. 

Ferrero had purchased Fannie May and Harry London earlier this year from, establishing a partnership to sell those products through their tried and true website.

In an effort to further the company’s growth, company leader Giovanni Ferrero appointed insider Lapo Civiletti to assume his role as chief executive officer last September to manage short- and mid-term activities while he concentrates on the strategic moves of the group. The grandson of founder Pietro Ferrero will take on the title of executive chairman.  

There were other shakeups at the top as well. Irene Rosenfeld stepped down as ceo of Mondelez International but will continue to serve as chairwoman until March. Dirk Van de Put, who was president and ceo of Canada’s frozen French fry leader, McCain Foods, took over as ceo in November.

Steve Cahillane became The Kellogg Company’s new ceo in October after John Bryant retired. Bryant will continue as executive chairman until March 15, 2018, when Cahillane will take over that position as well. Cahillane had previously served as ceo of The Nature’s Bounty Co., a health and wellness business, and had senior leadership roles with Coca-Cola and brewing company AB InBev.

Kellogg, which produces Nutri-Grain and Special K bars, and has been estimated at having around 22 percent of the snack bar business, is adding RXBAR to its portfolio. The Battle Creek, Mich., cereal giant was expected to acquire Chicago Bar Company LLC, maker of RXBAR, by the end of 2017 for $600 million. RXBAR’s net sales for 2017 are estimated to be $120 million.   

In other transformations, Dominique Luna has become the new ceo for Natra SA, of Madrid, and Carlyn Solomon replaces Michael Westhusing as ceo at California’s Santa Cruz Nutritionals. 

Swedish candy maker Cloetta had a big year, installing Henri de Sauvage-Nolting as president and ceo and acquiring Candyking, a leading supplier of pick and mix candy in the Nordic countries and United Kingdom. It also divested Cloetta Italy to Katjes International for about SEK 450 million ($56.1 million). 

Hearthside Food Solutions, of Downers Grove, Ill., has acquired the snack bar division of Standard Functional Foods to boost the company’s nutritional and functional snack bar category. This brings Hearthside’s total facilities to 24, 12 of which are confectionery. Nashville’s Standard Functional Foods will continue to keep its century-old Goo Goo Clusters. No other information about the buyout was announced at time of print.

Strauss Group sold its Max Brenner business to the Israeli chain’s franchisees Yaniv Shtanger and Dudu Vaknin and the lease of its factory for about $5 million last May. The factory, located in Beit Shemesh will remain the property of Strauss and leased for five years with the option of extension. Max Brenner has 60 chocolate bar locations across six countries. The buyers were former employees of Strauss.

Mars Inc. will take a minority stake in New York’s KIND Healthy Snacks to help grow the company globally. According to the New York Times, the estimated value of KIND, which will still run independently, was pegged at $4 billion. Euromonitor projected the snack bar giant’s sales at $719 million annually. 

And, this might be the last year Gertrude Hawk is in the Global Top 100 as it has just sold its ingredients division of the business to Barry Callebaut, which makes up for about half of the Pennsylvania company’s business. 

Chairman David Hawk feels this is good for his employees, many of which will stay on with Barry Callebaut in the existing building while Gertrude Hawk moves its branded business across the street to a 175,000-sq.-ft. facility it owns. The move also will allow Barry Callebaut to grow the ingredients division, mainly ice cream and baking inclusions, to an even greater business. Hawk feels his company has grown that part of the business as far as it could. 

German chocolate-covered biscuit maker Bahlsen Group acquired a majority stake in Rawbite, a Danish producer of organic fruit and nut bars, at the end of 2016. Rawbite will continue as a stand-alone business and its headquarters will remain in Copenhagen, Denmark.

And finally, there’s still the possibility of another last-minute announcement by Nestle and its decision to possibly sell off its U.S. confectionery division. There were no updates when this went to print. 

Editor’s Note: As always, the Global Top 100 remains a “work in progress,” given that many companies refuse to share their financials or break them out to include only confectionery sales. If there are any oversights or incorrect estimates, please feel free to contact Candy Industry’s Editor-in-Chief Bernard Pacyniak at