Mars Tracks Along with The Rest of The Food Industry

Mars, the privately-held candymaker responsible for classic chocolate brands such as M&M’s, Milky Way and Snickers, is rebranding its candy offerings as Mars Wrigley Confectionery and moving management of its confectionery business to Chicago.

Mars bought Wrigley for $23 billion in 2008, but Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which helped fund the deal, retained a 20 percent stake of the purchased company. Mars announced Thursday that it recently bought Berkshire’s remaining shares and will fully merge with Wrigley next year.

The company says there will be no immediate changes to existing brands though new candy offerings could come in the future. A company spokesperson said the combination will make for simpler, more effective interactions with the vendors who make the company’s chocolates and candies available to consumers through retail and e-commerce channels.

“While they were running as two separate companies there was certainly collaboration, but there was a limit on coming together,” said corporate communications manager Kelly McGrail.

Independent analysts don’t expect the move to affect prices.

“The most important worry has to do with cocoa and chocolate and other ingredient costs,” said Bernard Pacyniak, editor of Candy Industry Magazine. “The fact that [Mars] is acquiring the rest of the stock is probably a good thing. They want to be in control.”

The continuing consolidation at Mars tracks along with the rest of the food industry, where a stream of megadeals has given a handful of dominant players control of the market.

Among the largest combinations came last year when Kraft and Heinz combined in a multibillion-dollar deal that was also funded by Berkshire. Hershey rejected a $23 billion takeover deal from Mondelez earlier this summer that would have given the two companies a dominant position in the candy market.

Mars, which is headquartered in McLean, Va., is a rare privately-held company competing with multinational, publicly-traded behemoths like Mondelez, Nestle and Hershey.

Pacyniak said Wrigley was a smart acquisition for Mars, which bought the then-public company for its domination of the gum segment. The combination brings major gum brands including Doublemint and Orbit under the Mars umbrella.