Despite the unbelievable challenges the past few years have thrown in the way—pandemic, labor shortages, supply-chain issues, global economic drama—the snack and bakery products industry is still thriving. Consumers remain hungry for bread, chips, doughnuts, pretzels, muffins, and other treats—and companies remain ready to provide them.
However, this resilience may not be such a huge surprise to those familiar with the snack and baking business, especially considering the longevity of some of the companies appearing on the Top 50 Snack & Bakery Companies of 2022. Take the No. 1 ranked company, Nestlé S.A., for example—founded back in 1866, the global producer has endured through recessions, depressions, multiple world wars, and other serious storms, surviving to achieve annual revenue of $99 billion in 2021.
Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine has been around a while, too. The publication has followed the highs and lows of the industry for more than a century, and we plan to share news of the challenges and the champions of the field, from large, established players like the Top 50 as well as the up-and-comers, for years to come.
Top 10 highlights
Nestlé S.A. After a modest decline from 2020 to 2021, the Switzerland-based global producer enjoyed a gain in revenue, hitting an estimated $99 billion in annual sales and maintaining its position as the top of the Top 50. Notable product releases in the snack and bakery column include the debut of a gluten-free crust for its DiGiorno frozen pizza brand, a standout because while other GF crusts tend to be on the thin side, this new addition to the field is a thick, hand-tossed-style crust.
PepsiCo While the company saw some of its most significant growth overseas last year (its international business achieved a reported 11% organic revenue growth in 2021), its business on this side of the pond also increased. Frito-Lay North America (FLNA) achieved 7% organic revenue growth for the full year, reflecting both volume growth and positive net revenue realization.
Mondelēz International Ten years after the snack producer’s arrival, the company announced a renewed commitment to its mission to become “the global snacking leader.” A significant component of its strategy includes acquisitions. The company’s purchases announced or completed in 2021 include Hu, a U.S. snack maker with a wellness focus; Chipita S.A., a European croissant and baked snack maker; Grenade, a UK performance nutrition company; and Gourmet Food Holdings, an Australian maker of premium cookies and crackers.
General Mills The snack and cereal giant’s strategy for growth and success hinges on one word: accelerate. Under that umbrella it has positioned four pillars: “boldly building brands, relentlessly innovating, unleashing scale, and being a force for good.” During 2021, the company’s myriad brands saw a significant number of new product releases, including EPIC Salt & Vinegar pork rinds, Old El Paso taco shells with flavor modeled on Takis Fuego snacks, Cinnamon Toast and Golden Grahams protein snack bars, and (a blast from the past) Dunkaroos, a dippable cookie snack popular in the 1990s.
Ferrero Group As with many top-performing companies in snack and bakery product manufacturing, the company has made stated commitments to sustainability, responsible sourcing, and other “good” missions. The company, for example, has announced its aim to responsibly source the palm oil used in the making of its products. In September 2021, the World Wildlife Federation released its annual Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard, with Ferrero Group ranking first among manufacturers and third overall, out of 227 companies listed.
Other Top 50 highlights
Hershey Co. The historical food firm, while still best known for its chocolate products, has been making moves in the snack arena for a while now. However, it has stepped up its efforts in recent years, with power moves including the acquisition of fast-growing Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels in 2021. This year, CEO Michele Buck has vowed to accelerate the company’s transformation into a “snacks empire” (see this month’s Editor’s Note).
Flowers Foods The company’s baked-good brands include a number of established names like Wonder and Tastykake, as well as relative newcomer Dave’s Killer Bread. In 2022, the fast-growing organic bakery brand announced a move to take the name beyond the bread aisle, with a line of organic snack bars bearing the name and likeness of the brand’s mascot.
Hearthside Food Solutions The producer’s sales have grown from about $3.1 billion in 2019 to $3.5 billion in 2021. In January 2022, the company completed its acquisition of the Weston Foods Ambient Division assets. The assets acquired include six different North American locations that produce cookies, crackers, cones, wafers, and related baked products.
Companies to watch in 2023
McKee Foods The bakery brand, known for names like Little Debbie Snack Cakes, jumped from 26 in the 2021 list to 23 this year, with sales increasing from $1.7 billion to $2.4 billion. The company collaborated with other producers on some interesting co-branded products, such as Kellogg Co.’s Little Debbie Nutty Buddy cereal, and Hudsonville Ice Cream releasing a line of Little Debbie frozen treats.
Lewis Bakeries This bread producer (holder of brands such as Healthy Life better-for-you loaves and Bunny Bread) might have moved up just one spot from 49th in 2021 to 48th this year, but the company has seen some notable growth in revenue overall—from sales of about $280.5 million in 2019 to $350 million in 2021.
Unique Snacks Having just celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021, the long-lived pretzel-centric producer has seen some notable growth, expanded distribution of its savory treats, and forged a number of interesting partnerships in recent years (including collaborations with craft breweries and beer festivals). The company has not yet appeared on the Top 50 ranking but keep an eye out.For additional coverage of the Top 50 Snack & Bakery Companies, visit www.snackandbakery.com/top50.