International firms such as Cadbury are the most successful confectionery companies in Western Europe, according to Euromonitor, suggesting that a global outlook is necessary to survive in an increasingly competitive market.
Cadbury, Kraft, Nestle, Mars and Ferrero all have a large chunk of the market because they are committed to making foreign acquisitions and carrying out aggressive marketing campaigns.
They also tailor their products to trends or local tastes, said Euromonitor spokesperson Irina Kazanchuk.
"We are likely to see further movement in acquisitions and setting up new production facilities in fast growing markets and the top five players will continue to keep on the competitive confectionery market," Kazanchuk said. "As a result, we will likely see slight shift within the ranking, but major leaders should be able to secure their high rankings."
Internationally, the top five convectionary companies by sales are Cadbury Schweppes, Mars, Nestle, Hershey and Wrigley. While Cadbury and Nestle occupied the top two positions in Western Europe, Australasia, the Middle East and Africa, Hershey and Mars are tops in North America.
UK firm Cadbury-Schweppes is currently the number one confectionery firm in Western Europe, holding 11.6 per cent of the market, as well as being number one in terms of global sales.
The firm was originally established as a cocoa and chocolate firm in England in the late eighteenth century, but has now grown rapidly to encompass sweets, beverages and chewing gum, processed and sold all over the world.
Cadbury's dominance can be attributed to a number of factors, Meade said. In particular, the company has completed several successful acquisitions in Asia and Eastern Europe. These include the successful bids for Japanese candy company Sansei Foods and Turkey-based Intergum.
This year, the company has boosted profits with its very successful moves within the chewing gum market, and the company now claims to be number one in 18 of the top 50 gum markets worldwide.
The company has also made some steps in the organic and premium chocolate markets with its acquisition of the Green & Blacks range, Meade added.
Like many other successful companies, Cadbury has made conscious efforts to reorganise operations in Western Europe in order to keep costs down.
Only this month, the company announced the closure of a factory in the UK in order to move production to Poland, while Cadbury is currently focusing on moving the main offices out of central London to a cheaper location.
Cadbury are clearly determined to hang on to their number one spot. In fact, only last week the confectionery giant announced that it will demerge its €10bn beverage arm in order to focus on chocolate, sweets and gum.
Unlike Cadbury, Switzerland-based food firm Nestle has a much wider product range that encompasses beverages, coffee, infant nutrition, ice cream, soup and health care, and it has lost 0.8 per cent of its market share since 2001.
However, the company still holds the number two position in Western Europe with 9.1 per cent of the market share, thanks to successful sales of brands such as Milkybar, Kit Kat, Smarties Aero and Polo.
According to Euromonitor, Nestle has been successful takeover bids in emerging markets, especially in Brazil.
"Nestle's successful strategy, for instance, in Brazil, contributed to reinforcing the global standing of the swiss giant at a world level," Kazanchuk said.
However, Nestle has been much less proactive than other companies in acquiring organic chocolate subsidiaries, Kazanchuk added, "which might in the medium term put the company in a less robust position versus its more immediate competitors."
The company is also heavily involved with research into foods that target the health and wellness trends, and is keen to involve chocolate, traditionally seen as fattening, in this category.
For example, the company recently reformulated the Milkybar brand with all-natural ingredients, taking advantage of current concern for food additives.
Unlike Cadbury or Nestle, Mars holds the number three position in Western Europe because of strong sales in the "mature" markets of the EU and the US, Euromonitor said.
"The company has an 8.5 per cent market share," Kazanchuk explained. "Mars sales in Western Europe and North America accounted for over 80 per cent of its total sales, versus 67 per cent for Cadbury Schweppes and 60 per cent for Nestle."
Like Nestle, Mars is also currently investing in "healthier" confectionery products, and its Cocoa Via treats are promoted as being antioxidant rich, and so good for the heart.
The company has even re-launched current brands to market the new version s as being healthier. In August, Mars invested £5.7m (€8.4m) on a marketing campaign for the Galaxy chocolate brand, and released new versions containing dark chocolate, hazelnuts and almonds.
However, the company is still very much focused on chocolate bars, and has not expanded its product range as much as other companies.
"Excessive dependency on a single product in a market has hampered a faster expansion in Mars's sales," Kazanchuk said.
Italy-based confectioner Ferrero currently holds 8.3 per cent of the market, up from 8.2 per cent in 2001. Ferrero brands include Ferrero Rocher, the Kinder chocolate bars and the massively popular chocolate spread Nutella.
The company is relatively young in comparison to many global brands and was started in Italy in 1946. However Ferrero products are now sold in the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Unusually for many food companies, Ferrero has not been taken over and is still controlled by the Ferrero family.
However, the Financial Times suggested in May that Cadbury may be interested in taking over the firm once it frees itself of the Schweppes beverage arm.
The first US-company to make this top five list, Kraft comes in with a 6.7 per cent market share, a slight drop from 6.9 per cent in 2001.
The company has acquired a number of popular European chocolate brands over recent years, including Terry's Chocolate Orange, Daim, Cote D'Or, Suchard and Mika.
Kraft is the second largest food company in the world, and has focused much of its efforts in recent years on developing its chocolate brands.
"Chocolate products introduced in the past two years now represent approximately 11 per cent of our total confectionery sales volume, triple the level of only a few years ago," the company said.
Last month, chief executive officer Irene Rosenfeld announced that the company plans to re-jig its global portfolio, and in the EU the focus will be on developing profitable chocolate and coffee brands.