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Chocolate candy is the ultimate comfort food. Countries all over the world have their own unique productions and cultures surrounding chocolate. Whether it’s an occasional treat or a staple of your diet, chocolate in all forms is almost universally beloved.
With its ever presence in our lives, it’s no surprise that the global chocolate market is massive. Worth over $130 billion in 2019, the chocolate industry continues to grow steadily into the 2020s.
The cocoa industry itself has also been on the rise, with the Ivory Coast being the most prolific cocoa-producing country. However, the industry has long been plagued with issues around ethical labor standards and practices, and consumers are beginning to demand more transparency from chocolate companies.
As the chocolate and cocoa industries – and many other industries adapting to the times – sort through and evolve their practices, some other consumer trends have been driving the industry.
Whether it’s bean-to-bar or so-called “Big Chocolate,” some of the biggest consumer desires going into the 2020s are unique flavors and organic ingredients.
Candy companies are also finding success in marketing dark or reduced sugar chocolate, as well as individually packaged bites, for more health-conscious individuals.
However, some companies are the main contributors to growth in the candy (and more specifically, chocolate) industry.
The 15 largest chocolate companies in the world (based on the most recent net sales data) are:
15 Largest Chocolate Companies
Mars Wrigley Confectionery (Mars Inc).
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Net sales (mil.): $18,000
Mars Inc. is a giant multinational corporation manufacturing food as well as pet care products. However, for this list, we’re focusing on Mars Wrigley Confectionery, a subset of Mars Inc. responsible for all of their candy products and chewing gum.
Mars Wrigley Confectionery is the corporation behind some of America’s most well-known and beloved candies and chocolate bars. This includes (but is not limited to) Snickers, Twix, Skittles, MMs, Milky Way bars, and (of course) Mars bars.
Though Mars is the reigning chocolate champion, the company has had its fair share of controversies regarding sustainability, labor ethics, and animal welfare.
Net sales (mil.): $13,000
The Italian public limited company Ferrero Group exclusively manufactures chocolate and confectionery products, and manages to come in at number two for the largest chocolate producers.
Ferrero is primarily associated with one of its foundational products: Nutella. Ferrero is credited with inventing this chocolate hazelnut spread, which allegedly began as a practice to cut costs on chocolate.
You may also know this brand from its Ferrero Rocher chocolates (which contain Nutella), its Kinder brand line, or its Tic Tac candies.
Deerfield, Illinois, USA
Net sales (mil.): $11,800
Mondelez is a multinational corporation, manufacturing confectionaries as well as food and drink products. Mondelez holds several chocolate brands, including Toblerone, Cadbury, Milka, and more. You may also know them from hit products such as Oreo and Chips Ahoy.
Mondelez is a truly international company, operating in over 160 countries across the globe. However, this company is headquartered in the greater Chicago area.
While Mondelez has a truly impressive portfolio of products, they have also been criticized for deforestation practices.
In 2016, Mondelez made an offer to purchase Hershey Co. for $23 billion, but ceased its efforts after Hershey rejected the offer. If this deal had worked out, though, Mondelez would’ve quickly skyrocketed to the top of this list.
Meiji Co. Ltd.
Net sales (mil.): $9,721
Meiji is the largest Japanese chocolate company, and it manufactures other snack foods as well as pharmaceutical products. While this company is a major pharmaceutical and medical product supplier, we are, of course, focusing on their food products.
American audiences (excluding Japanese candy fanatics) may be less familiar with Meiji products, but this may change in the coming years as the company continues to grow steadily.
Some of the most popular Meiji candies feature chocolate (and other flavors) alongside crispy biscuits. This includes their Hello Panda, Yan Yan, and Kinoko no Yama lines.
Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
Net sales (mil.): $7,986
Hershey is a multinational corporation and one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the United States.
From an American perspective, many of us might be surprised to see that Hershey only just cracks the top five. While sales may be declining slightly, it remains an enormous company and a significant player in the chocolate industry.
Hershey is responsible for such favorites as Hershey’s kisses and Reese’s peanut butter cups. They also had a hand in creating MMs (now owned by Mars) in the early days of operation.
Hershey has made philanthropic commitments to supporting education throughout its existence. However, it has had its fair share of controversies as well, including labor and workers’ rights issues within its supply chain.
Net sales (mil.): $7,925
Our first and largest Swiss entry on this list, Nestle is a large multinational corporation with many different product lines. Nestle manufactures everything from baby food to pet food to medical food, even water. Taken as a whole, it is the largest food company in the world.
When it comes to candy and chocolate, though, you may recognize Nestle’s Kit-Kats, Butterfingers, Crunch bars, and more.
Out of all companies on this list, Nestle has perhaps faced the most criticism for its practices. As a giant multinational company, Nestle has been involved in controversies all across the globe. These include labor issues in sourcing ingredients, marketing controversies, industrializing protected land, and more.
Chocoladefabriken Lindt Sprungli AG
Net sales (mil.): $4,574
Our second Swiss entry on this list, Lindt Sprungli (also known simply as Lindt), is a comparatively smaller company focusing only on chocolate confectionery products.
You may know Lindt from their branded chocolate bars or their famous Lindor truffles filled with a smooth chocolate (or flavored) filling. They also have very popular seasonal products causing booms in profit around Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.
Like other entries on this list, Lindt has been involved in deforestation controversies but has since worked to improve its sustainability practices and policies.
Net sales (mil.): $4,515
Pladis is a manufacturer of both confectionery products and snack foods, and it is our first and only British entry on this list. Pladis operates out of 13 countries with products reaching most of the developed world.
Pladis owns Godiva chocolate, a premiere chocolate manufacturer known for its luxurious chocolate items. While Pladis does manufacture other chocolate products, those sold under the Godiva name are the most popular and help this company land a spot on our list.
Haribo GmbH Co. K.G.
Net sales (mil.): $3,300
Haribo is the largest German chocolate-seller, exclusively manufacturing confectionery products. One of their biggest claims to fame is creating the first gummy bears, and in fact, the first gummy candies in general.
You may also know Haribo from their Chamallow (chocolate marshmallow) products, Happy Cola gummies, or licorice.
Ezaki Glico Co. Ltd.
Net sales (mil.): $3,156
Our second Japanese entry, Ezaki Glico is a food company that does business in over 30 countries worldwide.
Besides basic confectionery products (such as chocolate chips), Ezaki Glico is most well-known for its Pocky line of products. These chocolate-dipped biscuit sticks have been a long time hit but have recently become an American favorite.
Perfetti Van Melle
Spa Lainate, Italy Breda, Netherlands
Net sales (mil.): $2,672
This group was formed from a merger between Perfetti of Italy and Van Melle of the Netherlands, and has since become one of the largest confectionery manufacturers in the world.
You might know Perfetti Van Melle from their Airheads taffy, Chupa Chups lollipops, or Chocoliebe chocolate products. They also have very popular gum and mint lines, including Mentos.
Net sales (mil.): $1,767
Orion Corp is a confectionery brand based out of Seoul, and it is one of the largest food companies in South Korea. It has operations based in China, Russia, Vietnam, and the United States.
Orion manufactures a number of branded chocolate products, with its most popular being the Choco Pie.
August Storck KG
Net sales (mil.): $1,680
August Storck is the second German entry on this list, with offices located in both Germany and Denmark. August Storck exclusively manufactures candy products.
Some of their most popular chocolate products include Bendicks, Riesen, and Toffifay. They also manufacture several chocolate products exclusively for the grocery store chain Aldi, including Chateau chocolate and Moser-Roth.
Net sales (mil.): $1,120
Morinaga manufactures candy and confectionery products and is the third-largest chocolate-seller in Japan. It’s known for strong marketing campaigns, which increased Japanese sales of chocolate around Valentine’s Day.
Morinaga manufactures Dars chocolate bars, Hi-Chew candies, and other popular Japanese candy products.
Net sales (mil.): $1,080
Finally, Bourbon Corp is the fourth-largest Japanese candy company. It makes similar products to (and competes with) Morinaga, Ezaki Glico, and Meiji.
Bourbon Corp creates fun chocolate confectioneries, such as Every Burger, chocolate tree stumps, and mochi-covered chocolate.
With a quick glimpse at this list, we see some interesting things. The most represented country on this list currently is Japan, owning four of the top 15 companies. The United States is next in line, owning three of the top 15. Then Switzerland, Italy, and Germany are tied for third, with each country owning two of the top 15 companies.
While Japan may be the most represented country on this list, the United States takes the title for highest total net sales by country. Though the U.S. has fewer total companies listed, all three US-based companies land in the top five.
Find out more below.
How We Ranked the Top 15
In order to determine the top 15 largest chocolate companies, we used net sales data. They note that their fiscal estimates come from “a combination of manufacturer surveys, annual reports, media reports, private and published research, and analyst interviews.”
This list is of the top consumer-focused companies that produce chocolate candy products. Thus, industrial chocolate sales have been factored out.
We also disqualified certain companies that made a majority of their income from multiple different food properties rather than chocolate candy products. While these corporations do technically make chocolate-based products, they don’t make chocolate candy or chocolate bars. This includes companies such as Kellogg Co. and General Mills.
- Largest Companies
- Largest Brands
- Niche Companies
- How Companies Make Money