Tracking the Treats

Every brand in top 10 made by either Hershey or Mars


CHICAGO -- Going into Halloween, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 chocolate brands with the largest sales during the last year, citing market research firm Information Resources Inc. (IRI).

According to IRI, in the past 52 weeks ending Sept. 8, Americans spent $3.9 billion to buy 3.5 billion chocolate bars, bags and boxes under 3.5 ounces. Reese's and M&M's each accounted for more than $500 million in sales.

According to IRI's methodology, chocolate candy sizes fall into multiple categories, including weighing less than 3.5 ounces, weighing more than 3.5 ounces and snack size (which is excluded from the less than 3.5-ounce category). The ranking is based on sales of candy units weighing less than 3.5 ounces, which includes most standard size American candy bars. Sales listed were based on sales in U.S. multi-outlet and convenience stores, including supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, gasoline/c-stores, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains.)

America's favorite Halloween candy:

1. Reese's (Hershey). Reese's regular size (less than 3.5 oz) peanut butter cups jumped by 7.7% to just under $510 million in the past year, outstripping M&M's from its top spot as the best-selling chocolate. As a result, the brand overtook M&M's as the nation's best-selling chocolate candy. Overall, with Reese's and several other major brands sales growing over the past 12 months, the Hershey Co. dominated the market for standard-size chocolate candy, accounting for roughly 49% of customer spending.

2. M&M's (Mars). Sales of M&M's only trail sales of top chocolate brand Reese's by a small amount. But the brand lost its position as the best-selling chocolate after sales fell by more than 3% during the 52 weeks ending in early September. M&M's unit sales were down 7.5% from the same period the year before. Although it is the second highest selling regular size candy, it ranks only eighth among brands in snack-sized sales.

3. Snickers (Mars). Snickers bar sales fell by more than 7% to just under 413 million units in the most recent 52 weeks available. This mirrored the decline in the under 3.5-oz category Mars faced across all of its brands, for which unit sales fell by 7.7%.

4. Hershey's (Hershey). Sales of Hershey's longstanding brands have risen recently, mostly because of advertising pushes. According to IRI, sales of standard-size Hershey's-branded chocolate bars rose by nearly 8% in dollar terms and 7% in unit terms. The brand's dollar sales for snack sizes have also increased by nearly 12%.

5. Kit Kat (Hershey). Sales of few chocolate bars grew faster than Kit Kats over the past year. In that time, the number of Kit Kat bars sold rose 17.8%, while dollar sales rose by more than 22%. The brand is owned by Nestle, but Hershey licenses and manufactures it in the United States.

6. Twix 4 To Go (Mars). Mars sold over $116 million of Twix 4 To Go bars, compared to just over $80 million of the traditional Twix bar over the most recently available 52 weeks; however, the standard Twix, which contains two cookie bars, still sold close to 88 million units, while Twix 4 To Go, containing four cookie bars, sold just under 75 million units. The difference was made up in the price. Twix 4 To Go costs an average of $1.56, the most expensive top-selling chocolate candy and more than 60 cents more than the average Twix bar.

7. 3 Musketeers (Mars). Over the past year, sales of 3 Musketeers bars fell by 9.6% to just over $101 million, the second-largest drop of any major chocolate candy bar. Dollar sales of snack-sized 3 Musketeers also fell by about 4%. One potential explanation for the brand's decline in sales may be less advertising.

8. Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme (Hershey). Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme bar, introduced in 1994, is a relatively new addition to Hershey's line of chocolate brands. It is also one of just eight brands to record sales of more than $100 million in the most recently available 52-week period; however, dollar sales of the brand were relatively flat over the past 52 weeks, rising roughly 1.7%--too little to gain market share. By comparison, dollar sales of all Hershey standard-size brands rose by roughly 9%.

9. Milky Way (Mars). In the past year, sales of standard-sized Milky Way bars rose by more than 5% to $93.4 million. This made the brand the only one of the company's top-sellers that did not lose market share over that time, based on IRI data. Sales of snack-sized Milky Way rose by more than 10%.

10. Almond Joy (Hershey). In the past 12 months, the brand was one of just 10 to sell more than $80 million in the under 3.5 oz. bar category.

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