The United States generates more revenue for the confectionery industry than any other country in the world. In fact, in 2022, the population’s collective spend was over $186 billion, which is a candy budget of more than $550 per person, for that year alone.
Everyone has their go-to tempting treat, yours, no doubt, is now popping into your mind. However, our choices are based on more than just our literal taste preferences. Although new and exciting products may have a sharp spike in popularity now and then, it’s the older giants of the industry in which consumers generally find their favorites and to which they return time and again.
But why exactly is this? Nobody wants to be disappointed when it comes to time for a sweet treat, yet we don’t all necessarily buy the exact same products over and over. Ethics and image are a big part of this, but not simply in the marketing realm. When you consider the likes of Albanese Confectionery Group (ACG), and its success over the last 40 years, it becomes apparent that family plays a key role in this industry. Families providing what other families want, through personal desires and experiences.
“In 1983, my parents, Scott and Debbie Albanese, opened a small, bulk candy store in Indiana,” begins Tess Albanese, Co-President. “Initially, they simply bought and traded other manufacturers’ candies, nuts, and mixes within the local community. However, it wasn’t long before Scott noticed a gap in the market for high quality, freshly roasted nuts, and his entrepreneurial spirit came into play.
“He bought a nut roaster to set up in the shop, and started producing his own for their clientele. They were a huge hit, so he started offering them to the neighboring candy stores in the area. Thus, ACG’s manufacturing company was born. This was just the beginning for Scott, as he then set about seeing what else he could improve upon across the industry. Before long, he was coating his roasted nuts in chocolate and offering them as premium, European-style chocolates at a very reasonable price.
“His passion for innovation didn’t stop there,” she continues, “and in the mid-1990s, Scott sought out a solution to resolve the way in which all gummi bears used to taste like red, green, or yellow, and never a specific fruit flavor. He initially encountered backlash on his mission, as people told him it was technically impossible to develop flavor release from gelatin. However, he got his head down in the lab for two years and by 1998 had made the necessary scientific discoveries so that ACG could start to manufacture its own gummies.”
Today, the company is known for being the world’s best when it comes to flavor, which inspired the name of its Albanese World’s Best range. “That’s the way that the people who eat our products describe them! We are known internationally for our 12-flavor bears, but recently we also launched our Albanese World’s Best ULTIMATE gummi bears, which are a range of eight true-to-fruit experiences. Eating one of the Asian pear flavored bears, for example, will transport you to a place where you’re chomping down on an actual pear. They’re truly incredible!
“It’s no secret that we like to break the rules of what can be done, which is demonstrated by our product range,” Tess continues. “ACG was the first in the candy aisle to use an all-white, windowless bag. The name on our branded bag is ‘Albanese World’s Best’, but for us, the concept of world’s best doesn’t stop at the food we produce. It extends to the teams we create and how our factories are run. We continuously strive to set world best standards, breaking them only to reset another, even higher standard.”
ACG has been recognized by multiple awards for developments such as its sherbet gummi bears, the world’s first gummies that don’t freeze in ice cream, and its breakthrough application for adding sour flavoring to the center of sweets. Similarly, ACG received a technology award for developing a process to place omega-3 fish oil into gummi candies before producing the first ever probiotic gummies to name a few. This was just the beginning of the company’s journey to becoming a large-scale, private-label gummi nutra producer.
“We have been one of the leading pioneers in the science and art of gummi dietary supplement manufacturing for the last two years,” Tess elaborates. “We developed the first-ever shelf-stable omega-3 gummies, probiotic gummies, hyaluronic acid, the list goes on and on. We have the knowledge and capabilities to maximize active ingredient loads whilst still retaining the delicious flavors and textures that our customers know and love, even with our multivitamin-led items. Our manufacturing facility is FDA regulated, as well as being CFR111 certified, which meets the necessary requirements of dietary supplement producers. All of our food is made under these regulations, making it an even safer environment for our everyday confectionery gummies and chocolates.
“All of this, for us, is personal,” she states. “Everything we do is a reflection on our family and the people who have chosen a career with ACG. We take that particularly seriously whilst not taking ourselves too seriously. One of our core values is to ‘love people,’ and we have an excellent reputation within the industry and wider community for treating people kindly; from our customers to our employees and supply partners. We are invested in the success of each of these groups as much as our own, and make decisions based on the long-term benefits that outcomes can provide them. We are not just playing to the quarterly earnings or shareholder interests.”
Simply the best
ACG has recently completed an enormous expansion project, which has almost doubled its existing footprint. “This is part of our long-term commitment to our brand’s fans and customers. Everything is built to our world’s best standards, and we seek passionately to be the best at everything we do; the best food, the best teams, the best equipment, simply the best of the best.
“We have surpassed the original vision of what our family could accomplish and have set our sights on new horizons,” she concludes. “Passion plays a big part in this. I’m not just one of the Co-presidents of ACG, I’m a lifelong client. I love candy, and remember when me and my siblings were growing up,
we thought all candy was free. Whenever we left the store, my mom always had to empty our pockets because we would fill them to the brim! But it’s easy with an organization like ours, because we produce such an incredible variety, there’s space for a new favorite every day.
“It was a pleasure to celebrate our 40th anniversary with our teams and communities earlier this year. But, although 40 years sounds like a long time, in the candy world, we’re actually still pretty young. Because of our rapid growth, the company moves at an incredibly fast pace, and I often liken it to a 40-year-old startup to people. Looking forwards, I wish to draw from my favorite Henry Ford quote: ‘If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ Respectively, you can expect ACG to bring you the food you didn’t even realize you needed, in the not too distant future.” ■