NCA Sweets and Snacks Expo 2018

Ferrero to overhaul Butterfinger and Crunch after merging Ferrara and Nestlé US candy

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Ferrero plans to increase the percentage of cocoa in Crunch bars. Pic: CN
Ferrero plans to increase the percentage of cocoa in Crunch bars. Pic: CN

Related tags Ferrero Nestlé Ferrara

Ferrero is set to overhaul the recipes of Butterfinger and Crunch bars after creating a new business unit by merging its recently acquired Ferrara and Nestlé’s US candy portfolio later this year.

Nestlé sold its US confections to Ferrero for $2.8bn​ earlier this year to focus more on health foods, while Ferrero acquired Ferrara​ in late last year to expand its product offerings in the US.

When the integration between Nestlé and Ferrara is completed, the Nestlé logo will be taken off from all of its original sugar and chocolate confectionery brands, and all the US candy factories previously owned by Nestlé will be rebranded as Ferrara, according to Patricia Bowles, communications manager at Ferrara.

Will Ferrero bring Nestlé candy brands to India?

Nestle Candy

Ferrero reportedly plans to bring some of its recently acquired candy brands, especially those in the sugar confectionery space, to India as it aims to achieve $1bn in sales from the country in 10 years, according to​. The company wants to make India a product development and export hub.

The acquisition of Nestlé US candy business added at least nine sugar confectionery brands to Ferrero, including SweeTarts, LaffyTaffy, Nerds, FunDip, PixyStix, Gobstopper, BottleCaps, Spree and Runts.

ConfectioneryNews is waiting for a comment from Ferrero’s headquarter on which brands will be used to target the Indian market.

Reformulation plans

Bowles noted Ferrero’s reformulation plan starts with Butterfinger and Crunch because these are iconic brands. However, “they have not been selling very well for many years… [Nestlé’s] chocolate business has been declining, and for some brands, even by double digits,” ​she said.

“Nestlé USA’s focus is on nutrition and health food. They are working on pet food and waters, and they have a new vision that they did not believe candy could follow,”​ added Bowles, who had worked at Nestlé for 27 years before joining Ferrara.

She told ConfectioneryNews at the recent Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago that Ferrero will remove molasses and TBHQ (a preservative that helps keep peanut products fresh) from Butterfinger, and increase cocoa percentage from 20% to 25%.  

“[Ferrero] is also going to add metalized film to the packaging to naturally bring about a fresher chocolate product over time… they are taking the pack count down to 18 bars from the original 24 bars [in retail], so they could turn the velocity faster which helps deliver a fresher product to the consumer,” ​said Bowles.

The Crunch brand will go through a similar reformulation process like Butterfinger, added Bowles.

When Ferrero finishes swapping the ingredients, each Butterfinger and Crunch bar will be under 200 calories, said Bowles. All the new products are expected to hit the US market in Q1 2019.

Cocoa supply chain

The question is, when Butterfinger and Crunch switch their cocoa supply chain from Nestlé’s Cocoa Plan to Ferrero’s, will their sustainability be affected?

Bowles said, “the supply chain will change over time. We’re only six weeks in [since the Ferrero’s acquisition of Nestlé], that’s why we’re still using cocoa beans from Nestlé under a transfer service agreement. This is a way for us to transition these brands out of Nestlé and into Ferrara.”

She also noted Ferrero, as their new parent company, will play a bigger role in making Nestlé’s chocolate products since Ferrara doesn’t play in the chocolate category.

“When you look at the cocoa beans Ferrero is sourcing, their standard is above anything that we’ve been doing at Nestlé,”​ she added. This is despite the fact that both companies use third-party organizations including Fairtrade and UTZ to monitor their sustainable cocoa sourcing progresses.

According to Ferrero’s corporate social responsibility report​, half of its cocoa beans were certified as sustainable in fiscal year 2015/16. The Italian chocolate maker also set 100% sustainable cocoa target by 2020. While Nestlé has not set a goal, its sustainability program covered around 35% of its total cocoa supply​ in 2015.

Ferrero 2.0: the sole candy maker among top three companies

Ferrero is currently the third largest confectioner in the US following Mars and Hershey, according to Euromonitor.

The company could further strengthen its position as a confectionery leader within the country as Mars and Hershey are actively investing in emerging snack brands.

“We still have plenty to do in our confectionery business… and we have nothing on the plan for snacks at the moment,”​ said Paul Chibe, the president of Ferrero USA.

“Ferrero USA solely focuses on candy,”​ said Bowles. “We’re going to receive millions of dollars [from Ferrero] to improve our product level and advertising to really bring the consumer back to enjoy their permissible indulgence. This is Ferrero 2.0, a new day for the candy market.

“A rising tide raises all the boats. So you are going to see all companies setting a new standard for quality in this industry,”​ she added.

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