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Cadbury is one of the most iconic confectionery brands in the world. The company, known for its Dairy Milk bar, is now a part of Mondelēz International. Kraft acquired Cadbury for $18.9 billion in 2010, combining two strong food companies before spinning off some of the international food brands as Mondelēz. Together with other Mondelez brands, Cadbury is part of the company that has the leading global market share for chocolates.

Mondelēz International enjoys strong market share positions around the world. In 2020, Mondelēz ranked first globally in biscuit sales and second in sales of chocolate, candy, and gum. The company faces strong competition from many companies in North America and around the world.

Key Takeaways

  • Cadbury is a famous U.K.-based chocolatier first established in the year 1824.
  • In 2010, Cadbury was acquired by Kraft Foods and spun off as Mondelēz International.
  • Cadbury's top competitors today include Mars/Wrigley's, Hershey, and Nestle.

1. Mars/Wrigley’s

Mars is a recognizable name, but as a private company, it hasn't been one investors can get behind. In 2018, Mars had a market share of 30% in the United States for the chocolate market. Some of its best-known brands are M&M's, Snickers, Starburst, Twix and Skittles.

Mars was the seventh-largest private company in America in 2020, with sales of $37 billion. The company competes in six segments: chocolate, pet care, food, Wrigley’s (gum), drinks, and symbioscience.

Along with competing against Mars for the chocolate market share, Cadbury now competes against the giant for share in the global gum market thanks to Mars' acquisition of Wrigley's in 2008. Mars' $23 billion acquisition gave it control of brands such as Extra, Orbit, and Eclipse, which helped produce sales of $5.4 billion prior to the sale. Cadbury has gum brands that include Dentyne, Stride, and Trident. Both companies have strong market share in a gum market that has seen sales decline.

2. Hershey's

In 2018, Hershey's had a market share of 43% in the U.S. for the chocolate industry. The company has many well-known brands in the U.S., including Hershey's, Reese's, Jolly Rancher, and Twizzlers. As of 2019, Hershey's still gets approximately 89% of its annual revenue from the North America market.

The case of Hershey's and Cadbury being rivals took a big turn due to a licensing agreement set back in 1988. In 1988, Hershey’s paid $300 million for the rights to Cadbury’s U.S. operations. Cadbury agreed; at the time, it saw no chance to compete against Hershey's and Mars, which controlled a combined 70% of the market.

Hershey's caused an uproar when it sued several importers of Cadbury products from the U.S. Hershey's uses a different recipe than the British chocolatier, and many former British residents want the authentic version. Cadbury's chocolate in the United Kingdom lists milk as the number one ingredient, while the American version made by Hershey’s has sugar as the number one ingredient.

Hershey's is in a unique position, as it is both a competitor and a distributor of Cadbury products. The long-time rights deal led many to believe that Cadbury and Hershey's would eventually merge, but that has not been the case. Nestle and Cadbury did at one time attempt a joint bid for Hershey's, but it ultimately fell through.

3. Nestle

Nestle is the largest food company in the world, covering many different subsectors of the market. The company's chocolate market is one of its smallest, but it was good enough for a 7% market share in the U.S. in 2018. Nestle has grown through many acquisitions that have given it control of brands that include KitKat, Smarties, and Gerber baby food.

Nestle's confectionery segment was its sixth-largest in 2020. With sales of CHF 7.0 billion globally, Nestle held the number six market share position among candy makers globally.

Similar to its deal with Cadbury, Hershey's also licenses several brands from Nestle for U.S. distribution rights. This includes KitKat and Rolo, two Nestle brands.