Whether it’s the shiny metallic colors of a Haribo package or the signature block letters of a Hershey wrapper glimmering in the light of a campfire, we’ve all felt that familiar pang of nostalgia at the sight of our favorite candies. While niche candies hold a special place in many of our hearts, there are some candy manufacturing giants that just keep coming out on top.
Each of the following companies was included in CandyIndustry.com’s 2019 survey of the top candy companies in the world by sales. From chocolate bars to jelly beans, we’re sure you’ll recognize many of your favorites on this list.
We’ll start off with the world’s number one confectionery company, responsible for some of the most recognizable candies around the world.
Mars Inc. combined its Chocolate and Wrigley segments – as in Wrigley’s gum – in 2016 to create Mars Wrigley Confectionery. In the process, they combined two iconic American brands. While Mars was already famous for Snickers, M&Ms, Skittles, the Dove Bar, Starburst, Twix, and so much more, Wrigley’s had created the world’s top chewing gums, including Juicy Fruit and Spearmint, and later Winterfresh, Orbit, and Extra sugar-free gum.
Did you know? In addition to candy and gum, Mars Inc. makes dog and cat food. Originally limited to the United Kingdom, Mars expanded to the American pet food market in 1968. In 2014, Mars acquired IAMS, Ekanuba, and Natura pet food brands in North America, Latin American, and select other countries.
You can thank this world-class Italian confectionery for giving you not only those fancy foil-wrapped balls of chocolatey crunchy goodness but also Kinder chocolate AND Nutella. A family-owned business with a proud history, Ferrero Group is now the second biggest chocolate producer and confectionery in the world after Mars Inc.
Fun fact: The story goes that Ferrero founder Pietro Ferrero first added hazelnut to his confections to save money on chocolate. It’s unclear if he knew whether he was creating one of the most mouthwatering flavor combos the world had ever seen.
Known mostly for cookies and crackers like Nabisco, Newtons, and Oreos in the United States, Mondelez International also makes some of the most recognizable chocolate in the United Kingdom: Cadbury. Whether you’re a UK native or an Anglophile with a sweet spot for a classic Dairy Milk bar, you know those royal purple wrappers when you see them.
Fun fact: In 2010, Cadbury was acquired by U.S.-based Kraft Foods, a legacy company of Mondelez International. With the move, Mondelez acquired what was once the world’s number one confectionery company.
Meiji Co. Ltd. is the fourth biggest confectionery company in the world by sale and number one in Japan. This Japanese company is famous for its huge range of not just delicious, but also incredibly unique creations. Their limited candies include surprising flavors like lemon and chocolate or apple, honey, cinnamon, and milk chocolate, while all throughout the year they make everything from baked chocolate squares to sugar-coated Bulgarian yogurt bites to gummies shaped like deep-sea creatures.
Did you know? Meiji even appeals to the DIY crowd with it’s “Let’s Make Mountain Mushrooms” kits. These kits let you pour chocolate into molds, dip cracker sticks into the soft chocolate, and pull out hardened chocolate “mushrooms” to gobble up.
There’s hardly anything more American than sitting around a campfire, making s’mores with Hershey’s chocolate bars. This is why it should come as no surprise that The Hershey Company is the world’s number five candy company, netting $7,779 million in sales every year.
Legend has it that Milton S. Hershey was inspired by German chocolate-making equipment at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. He built his first factory in his hometown of Derry, Pennsylvania, and the rest is chocolate history.
Fun fact: Hershey built the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania as a “model town” for his employees, complete with comfortable homes, affordable public transportation, quality public schools, and lots of opportunities for recreation and culture.
You might associate Nestle with the smell of warm cookies made with Nestle Toll House chocolate chips, but this company also produces 17.6 billion Kit Kat “fingers” every year worldwide. But the company came a long way to get to its standing as the producer of one of the world’s most beloved chocolate bars. In fact, it started as a condensed milk company, before Henri Nestle developed a breakthrough milk-based baby food.
Did you know? Kit Kats may be the MVP of trick-or-treat bags all over the U.S., but this crispy chocolate favorite is actually a U.K. creation. It’s said that Kit Kats are the U.K.’s “favorite chocolate biscuit bar,” and that 564 Kit Kat pieces are consumed every second in the candy’s hometown of York.
The Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprungli is beloved for spreading the joy of Swiss chocolate all over the globe. Now the owner of household names like Ghirardelli and Russell Stover, Lindt & Sprungli makes products in both Europe and the U.S. to sell through over 100 independent distributors around the globe.
Did you know? It’s said that Rodolphe Lindt invented the first truly melting chocolate, after years of trial and error with different heating and cooling techniques of the notoriously temperamental cacao-based treat. Yep – even the founder of Lindt chocolate had to deal with the dreaded chocolate “bloom” before perfecting his recipe.
We can’t round out our list of top candy companies in the world without talking about Haribo. While this German company didn’t invent gummy candy, they DID create the original gummy bear – though if you’ve been paying attention, you know these classic bear-shaped treats are actually called Gold-Bears. The company now makes gummies in a range of shapes and flavors, including Happy Cola, Dinosaurs, Sour S’ghetti, and much more.
Fun fact: The first gummy bears sold by Haribo were “Dancing Bears,” inspired by trained performing bears at circuses and carnivals. While the name sounds adorable, their longer, thinner bodies were probably not as cute as the gummy bears we know and love today.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate all the sweetness afforded by these top candy companies, shall we? And if you’re left craving more, don’t hesitate to check out the artisan candy delivery we offer at Candy Club.