Things are going well for Mars, the maker of treats like M&Ms and Snickers. A recent profile on the company by the Wall Street Journal summed it up this way:
While many U.S. food companies are closing factories and cutting staff, Mars Inc. recently opened its first new chocolate factory in the country in 35 years to feed Americans’ seemingly boundless hunger for sweets.
The $270 million plant boasts two production lines that can produce 8 million miniature Snickers candy bars and 39 million peanut M&M’s every day. At one end of the line, a waterfall of milk chocolate covers hundreds of tiny Snickers bars each minute, infusing the air with the smell of candy. The factory’s 500,000 square feet, kept carefully at 68 degrees so the chocolate doesn’t melt, include space for another three production lines so Mars can expand.
The article offered a small peak inside of a company that is privately held and usually keeps financial information close to the chest.
Mars discloses little about its finances, except to say that its annual revenue last year topped $33 billion—about 50% higher than in 2007, thanks largely to the 2008 acquisition of Wrigley. Chocolate is Mars’s second-biggest business globally, after pet care.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mars is battling Hershey for a bigger slice of the U.S. chocolate market, growing from 24% to 28% over the past year.
But Hershey is no slouch. “Hershey on [Oct. 29] reported a 5.8% increase in sales to $1.96 billion for the latest quarter,” the newspaper reported, adding that Hershey also increased its market share from 35% to 36% this year.
Both Mars and Hershey are enjoying the spoils of a market that has outpaced sales growth for other food products. Chocolate sales in the U.S. rose 3.2% last year compared with a 2.7% increase for total packaged food, according to Euromonitor…
Hats off to both companies, which have found a way to thrive and grow in a limping economy over the past several years.
Like these companies, sugar producers constantly invest in new equipment and innovative technology to boost efficiency and survive during economic downswings.
But unlike chocolate makers, which operate in an undistorted market, sugar farmers’ chief competitors are heavily subsidized foreign producers that manipulate global prices in hopes of bankrupting more efficient businesses.
The path to a free market in sugar begins with the zero for zero sugar policy, and we hope big candy companies will not fight efforts to secure a free and fair global sugar market.
And if they do oppose free sugar trade, we hope they will at least stop misleading lawmakers into thinking that they are struggling financially. By all accounts, Big Candy’s business is booming.