All in all, 2023 was a year of celebration for many companies, including anniversaries, increased revenue, and personnel appointments.

The leader on this year’s Global Top 100 is Mondelēz International, coming in at $36 billion in revenue (caveat: the number also includes its non-confectionery brands).

Newcomers to this year’s list include:

  • Sconza Chocolates, California, $139 million
  • Tiger Brands Ltd., South Africa, $136 million
  • Valor Chocolates, Spain, $135 million
  • BBX Sweet Holdings (subsidiary of BBX Capital Inc.), Florida, $129 million
  • Ion S.A., Greece, with $128 million (USD) in revenue
  • Wawi-Schakolade AG, Germany, $128 million
  • Pionir D.O.O., Serbia, $122 million
  • Hawaiian Host Group, Honolulu, $115 million

Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG (Lindt), No. 9 on the list this year, reported double-digit organic sales growth of 10.3% for 2023, with group sales increasing by 4.6% to $5.99 billion USD.

“Existing and new geopolitical uncertainties, as well as persistent inflation, coupled with persistently depressed consumer sentiment in many countries, shaped the 2023 financial year. While the supply market situation normalized to some extent, the volatility of individual raw materials remained high,” the brand relates.

“This applies in particular to the most important raw material, cocoa, the price of which almost doubled over the course of the year, reaching a new all-time high on the London commodity futures exchange at the end of the year.”

To kick off the year for personnel news, in January 2023, Morinaga America Inc. (Morinaga & Co., Ltd.) announced the promotion of executive Teruhiro “Terry” Kawabe (Terry) from president/CEO of the company to chief representative for the U.S. and president/CEO. With MAI's goal of strategically expanding the U.S. business, Kawabe’s goal is to optimize business management for both companies and drive the strategic expansion of the U.S. market.

Companies also focused on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), with Mars announcing its new DEI lead for North America, Flavia Moreira. Moreira is tasked with leading equity, inclusion, and diversity across all Mars North American businesses.

Acquisitions were also abundant, with Second Nature Brands (maker of Sanders Candy), based in the Detroit area, being one of the busiest in this category—it picked up Brownie Brittle near the beginning of last year (Dec. 2022) and later acquired Sahale Snacks, a nut company, in September 2023, for $34 million. It also added two new executives: Jacobo Capuano as its supply chain officer, in August, and, earlier in the year, Chris Caswell as chief financial officer.

Sadly, along with acquisitions came the “sunsetting” of one beloved gum brand in January of this year: Ferrara’s Fruit Stripe.

The gum was first introduced in 1961 by Beech-Nut Confection Division. Its distinctive packaging caught the eye of many consumers, with the sticks wrapped in colorful, zebra-striped wrappers. The gum's mascot, Yipes the zebra, inspired its "Yipes! Stripes!" slogan.

In July, Haribo (No. 10 on the list) opened its first-ever North American manufacturing facility, in Pleasant Prairie, WI. The brand-new, state-of-the-art factory was created to meet the growing demand by American consumers of the brand, which produces more than 25 varieties of gummy treats for the U.S. and more than 1,200 types globally. Currently, the 500,000-square-foot factory is focused on producing the brand’s Goldbears, with plans to expand production in the future.

In other innovation developments, candy giants Ferrero and Mars both established major research and development hubs in Chicago, in September 2023 and January 2024, respectively.

Despite inflation, most consumers still want to treat themselves, according to the National Confectioner Association’s 2023 State of Treating report. About 86% of consumers agreed that it is fine to occasionally treat themselves with chocolate and candy, and 78% believe confectionery sharing and gifting are great traditions, the report indicates. Producers aimed to provide premium options for consumers, especially for holidays like Valentine’s Day, which the NCA indicates most Americans celebrate.

Robert Hoover, vice president marketing, premium chocolate at Ferrero North America, comments, “Premiumization is a long-term trend within confection as consumers are unwilling to compromise on affordable luxuries and choosing to spend more for top-tier brands. More recently, premiumization is extending beyond the core seasons of holiday and [Valentine’s Day] to moments of celebration throughout the year.”

Keeping to that theme, Mondelēz International updated its 115-year-old Toblerone chocolate brand with premium offerings, bringing to life its updated brand signature "Never Square." The brand is supporting the new positioning with significant investments in premium product offerings, marketing, advertising, and expanded distribution, and the new products include Truffles, Tiny Toblerone, and gifting options.

The company also announced it has completed the sale of its developed-market gum business in the U.S., Canada, and Europe (excluding Portugal) to Perfetti Van Melle Group. The Portugal portion of the business was retained by Mondelēz, pending regulatory clearance from the Portuguese Competition Authority.

Another form of premiumization: plant-based chocolate, which was trending in 2023. Earlier in the year, Hershey’s released plant-based versions of its Hershey’s chocolate bars and Reese’s cups.

Some companies to watch that didn’t make our Global Top 100 list this year include:

From new flavors to surprising twists on classics, the 2023 Global Top 100 list points to a 2024 brimming with adventurous concoctions in the confectionery world.

View our Global Top 100 list by clicking the link below or at the top of the article; you may also find previous lists going back to 2012 there.