Nestle

BLOOMINGTON — Nestle is planning to sell its U.S. candy business to Italy's Ferrero and that sale would include the Nestle USA Bloomington facility.

Nestle announced on Tuesday its agreement to sell its U.S. candy business to Ferrero for about $2.8 billion in cash.

The transaction is expected to close near the end of the first quarter of this year after the customary approvals, said Roz O'Hearn, director of corporate and brand affairs for Nestle USA.

Once approved, Nestle's U.S. confection business would become a part of Ferrero, she said.

"Until that time, we will continue to operate business as usual" and that includes the Bloomington facility, O'Hearn said.

Asked about the future of the Bloomington candy factory following the sale, O'Hearn said "It will become Ferrero's decision how they proceed."

The Bloomington candy factory at 2501 Beich Road has 369 employees — 315 hourly and 54 salaried, O'Hearn said. Molded chocolate and pulled sugar confections are made there and include Butterfinger, Crunch, Skinny Cow and Laffy Taffy, O'Hearn said.

A call to the Nestle Bloomington facility was referred to O'Hearn.

The Nestle USA Bloomington facility traces its roots to the Beich candy factory which began operations in the 1800s on Bloomington's west side near the former train station.

The Beich Road facility was built in 1967 and it was acquired by Nestle in 1984.

Nestle CEO Mark Schneider said in a prepared statement released Tuesday, "With Ferrero, we have found an exceptional home for our U.S. confectionery business where it will thrive. At the same time, this move allows Nestle to invest and innovate across a range of categories where we see strong future growth and hold leadership positions, such as pet care, bottled water, coffee, frozen meals and infant nutrition.

Nestle's candy business represents about 3 percent of U.S. Nestle sales. Other Nestle products include Purina, Coffee-Mate, Gerber and Stouffer's.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Editor

Health Editor for The Pantagraph.

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