Every sector of the food industry is experiencing an increase in merger activity, possibly demonstrating a shift from organic expansion to acquisition-based expansion. In 2014, the Food Institute recorded the highest amount of deals in a decade, and M&A is on pace to remain high in 2015. One category that has been historically stagnant is confectioners, but it looks as if that is changing. From 2011 to 2013, there were consistently five confectionery deals each year, but in 2014 that number jumped to eight, and now at the median of 2015, there are already four deals recorded.
BBX Sweet Holdings, a subsidiary of BBX Capital Corp. formed in 2013, has always been a big player in the category. With one acquisition in 2013, five in 2014, and two so far in 2015, BBX continues to increase its portfolio and product offerings. In April, BBX acquired Kencraft Inc., which manufactures a variety of hard candies, such as LolliKits, Candy Sticks, Candy Canes, and Bubblegum Buddies. At the beginning of June, it also acquired Droga’s Chocolates, the maker of products such as Money on Honey, Nutty Puddles, Peanut Butter Bots, Rebel Rocky Road and Big Bite Brittle. BBX’s other confectionery portfolio companies include Anastasia Confections, Droga Chocolates, Helen Grace Chocolates, Hoffman’s Chocolates, Jer’s Chocolates, The Toffee Box, and Williams & Bennett.
High-end chocolate maker The Barry Callebaut Group signed an agreement to acquire the customer portfolio, brands, recipes, and manufacturing equipment from American Almond Products Co. Inc., an artisanal nut-based ingredient company. This purchase signals Barry Callebaut’s move into the confectionery ingredients category, as it hopes to further grow in that sector. Based in Brooklyn, NY, American Almond manufactures about 2,000 tons of nut specialties a year and generated sales revenue of approx. $15.9 million in 2014. This is Barry Callebaut’s first acquisition since 2007, but if it intends to move more into the ingredients sector, we can expect to see more activity from the company in the future, possibly fueling an even larger confectionery M&A total at the end of 2015.