Although rising costs forced price increases of 4 percent this year, sales continue unabated. That doesn't surprise Susan Fussell, a vice president of the National Confectioners Association, of which Farley's and Sathers is not a member.
"Candy is a relatively inexpensive indulgence. You may not be able to go on a cruise or purchase a new home. But to pick up your favorite candy bar? That is one indulgence for which consumers still seem to spend money," Fussell said.
According to consumer research firm Information Resources Inc., candy sales last month rose 2.4 percent over September 2007. Sales climbed 3.7 percent from August, the most recent figures available.
Farley's and Sathers has contributed to the increase by extending the reach of regional favorites. "We have taken regional brands and developed them nationally," Nemeth said.
The company used the Brach's line to introduce new chocolate candy boxes for movie theaters. It spun off its Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers into Trolli Sour Brite Rocks. And it took its 2003 acquisition of Hershey's Fruit Stripe Gum and launched a sugar-free version this year. The company said such products added $20 million to revenue this year.
Farley's and Sathers boasts more than $600 million in sales built upon seven acquisitions in six years.
Parent firm Catterton Partners of Greenwich, Conn., began cobbling the company together in 2002 when it gobbled up Hershey's Heide line of JuJyFruits, JuJubes, Dollars, Gummi Bears and Chuckles as well as Kraft's Now and Later, Mighty Bite and Intense Fruit Chews brands.
In 2003 it snatched up Hershey's Rain-Blo gumballs and the Fruit Stripe and Super Bubble gum brands. Two years later, it grabbed Wrigley's Trolli Gummi candies and Bob's Sweet Stripe Soft Mint and candy cane lines.
Last November it acquired Brach's Gummi and fruit candy plant in Winona, Minn., and its massive distribution arm for chocolates and that fall staple, candy corn.
The company expects Halloween sales to contribute 8 percent of annual sales. And with Bob's candy cane line, it's looking for Christmas sales to make up 5 percent.
The confectioners association reported that Halloween candy sales grew 2.6 percent last year over 2006 and should grow even more this year because it lands on a Friday.
Tomorrow, on Halloween, some 500 pounds of Gummi worms, lollipops, chewy candies and gum await tot-sized ghosts and goblins as they drift into the Mall of Amercia's Nickelodeon Theme Park for a day of fun.
Next year, Farley's and Sathers plans to weigh in among the packed Valentine and Easter candy markets, Nemeth said, noting that more acquisitions are possible.
Holidays aside, Farley's and Sathers won't let America forget its sweet tooth. It recently wrapped its semi-trucks in 3M advertising film, so now "one of our trucks looks like a big yellow box of JuJyFruits coming down the highway," Nemeth said.
The rolling billboards take a page from Nestle's Willy Wonka mobile, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and the Hershey's Kissmobile.
"I think it's great touch-point advertising. If I was driving on the highway behind it, it would make me smile," said Fussell, with the confectioners association.
Nemeth said recent candy sales have slipped a bit in the receding economy. But he remains optimistic about the growth potential of Farley's and Sathers.
"Our products are impulse buys," Nemeth said. "They are not at the price points where people won't spend 50 cents to a dollar."
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725