We all love lists. We like to check “best-ever” lists to see if our favorite movies, books or songs make the cut. We pour over the Forbes World’s Billionaires list to see which Americans appear there. And many of us will spend time on New Year’s Day perusing compilations of the best and worst of seemingly everything that occurred in 2012.

Bakers and snack producers also witnessed numerous changes in the food industry this year, which were viewed positively by some and negatively by others. Acquisitions and mergers, in particular, seemed to dominate industry news. In March, Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. announced that it was separating its grocery and snack food businesses into two separate entities—Kraft Food Group and Mondelez International, respectively. Flowers Foods Inc., Thomasville, Ga., added Lepage Bakeries Inc., Auburn Me., to its fold shortly thereafter. And it’s anyone’s guess what the future holds for Hostess Brands, which, as of presstime in October, filed a plan to emerge from Chapter 11 protection and restructure.

Cause for celebration

Still, while some companies were busy expanding or reinventing themselves, others were celebrating their decades-long existence, a remarkable feat in this age of pop-up stores and consumers’ constant search for the next big thing, be it in electronics or snack foods. Chicago-based Gonnella Baking Co., for instance, is celebrating its 126th anniversary, while Elgin, Ill.-based John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc. turned 90. A third Illinois company, Turano Baking Co. in Berwyn, hit the half-century mark this year.

Many bakers, snack producers, food retailers and other industry members probably feel as though they need a scorecard to keep track of all of this activity and likely wonder who the industry’s “major players” really are. We have to admit, so did the editors of Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery.

We decided, therefore, to compile lists of the top 25 bakers and snack producers in the U.S. While these lists are not definitive, we believe they will give Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s readers a better understanding of the industries and who the key players are. The list of brands many of these companies own or supply product for is eye-opening in itself. 

So how did we determine which com-panies to include on the lists? We first consulted Hoovers, a Dun & Bradstreet company that specializes in business information, and generated reports for all of the bakeries and snack manufacturers we found in its online database. Next, we sent questionnaires to these companies, requesting a variety of information, including the name and title of the company’s top executive, the total number of U.S. employees and locations, the total of U.S. finished product sales and brands owned or produced by the company.

We referred to the most recent annual reports of publicly-held companies that did not respond to our queries and to the 2011 Hoovers reports for privately-held companies that didn’t respond. In a few instances, we culled information from similar reports published by Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, a sister publication of Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery. We also visited each company’s website for brand information. Despite our best attempts to collect as much current and accurate information as we could for each company, we were unable to do so in some cases and have indicated this with an NA (not available).

We’d like to thank those companies that contributed to this report and hope that those who elected not to participate this time will recognize the value of this information to readers and members of the bakery and snack communities. We hope they will accept Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s invitation to participate next year. After all, remaining visible is a good way to remain viable.


Click here to view the complete 2012 Top Bakers and Snack Manufacturer's list