Candy dates back as far as Ancient China and the Roman Empire where, before sugar was available, they used to coat fruits in honey, therefore ‘candying’ them. The word ‘candy’ finally appeared in the English language by the 1200s. In the late 1700s, candy appeared in America after being shipped over by the English and the French, during these times candy was only available for the very wealthy individuals who could afford sugar. It wasn’t until the 1830s when it became available to the poorer working class as well, after advances in technology allowed the price of refined sugar to be dropped significantly.
This large market means that there is definitely room for ingenious business minds to make a large shedload of money in the candy industry by creating massively popular products that can be enjoyed around the globe. That is most certainly what these billionaires have done, here are the world’s top billionaire candy kings.
1. The Mars Siblings – $59.1 Billion USD
In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars’ first roots as a confectionery company. In the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar.
In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a business based on the objective of creating a “mutuality ofbenefits for all stakeholders” – this objective serves as the foundation of Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $33 billion, six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 75,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.
2. Michele Ferrero & Family – $26.7 Billion USD
The great leader of the Group’s development is Michele Ferrero. With the desire to make and create new products with state-of-the-art ideas, he has revolutionised the food habits of millions of consumers.
Thanks to his consistent and efficient partnership with his wife Maria Franca, he was the first Italian manufacturer after World War II to open production sites and offices abroad in the confectionary sector, turning the Company into a truly international Group.
Michele Ferrero is the wealthiest sole person on this list, and the first of our candy kings to appear in Forbes’ Top 100 Richest People in the World list, at number 22.
3. Augusto and Giorgio Perfetti – $7.36 Billion USD
Perfetti Van Melle was formed by Augusto and Giorgio’s father and uncle, Ambrosio and Edigio Perfetti, in 1946 near Milan. They started out selling chewing gum in Italy after seeing its potential and popularity with American soldiers during World War II (think the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company). They made an absolute fortune. However, they soon diversified into other confectionery products and, at the start of the millennium, began purchasing other candy companies. These purchased companies include Van Melle (from the Netherlands) and Chupa Chups (from Spain). Perfetti Van Melle is the third largest confectionery manufacturer in the world after Mondelēz International and Mars, Incorporated. It employs 17,000 people via 30 subsidiary companies and distributes its products in over 130 countries.
4. Axel Oberwelland – $3.9 Billion USD
Axel Oberwelland is a name you probably don’t recognize. However, the German born businessman is the current chief executive officer of the August Storck Group, a candy company with its headquarters in Berlin. Okay, so you might not recognize that name either, but the Storck Group is responsible for the production of multiple well known European candy brands, such as Werther’s Original, Riesen, and Toffiffee.
5. William Wrigley, Jr – $2.5 Billion USD
William Wrigley Junior, or Bill Wrigley as he’s more conveniently known, is the great grandson of another William Wrigley Junior, who launched the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company back in 1891. You might know this now as the largest chewing gum provider in the world, Wrigley’s.The company was originally launched to sell soap and baking powder, but as a sideline William Wrigley, Jr started selling chewing gum. Soon after, the gum became the company’s best selling product and William decided to focus on that. Now, the company sells their products in more than 180 countries (and is also the only US enterprise operating in North Korea) and generates over $5 billion USD in revenue every year.