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Perfetti van Melle (Italy/Netherlands)

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Perfetti van Melle is the world's third-largest sugar confectioner (after Mondelez and Mars/Wrigley), and the leading player in the Italian, Spanish and Indian sugar confectionery markets. It was formed from two major transactions: the merger in 2001 of Perfetti of Italy and Van Melle of the Netherlands; followed by the absorption of Spanish group Chupa Chups in 2006. The privately owned company is now active in more than 150 countries, selling a broad range of chewing gums and candies. It is especially active in developing markets in Asia. The company now maintains a single HQ in the Netherlands, as well as 32 manufacturing sites and sales offices all over the world.


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Brands & Activities

In Italy, Perfetti is a distinctive presence in virtually every bar and food retailer, not least as a result of its most widely known domestic brand, Brooklyn, which was Italy's first-ever domestically produced chewing gum when it was launched following World War II. However, the group's biggest brand internationally is Mentos, distributed in more than 130 countries. Sales were boosted dramatically during 2006 as a result of the revelation by amateur science website Eepybird of the explosive effects caused by immersion of Mentos candies into carbonated sodas. The company benefited from vast amounts of free publicity, and a spike in sales as consumers attempted the experiment themselves. The brand has expanded from its original spherical chewy "dragee" format into more traditional mints and gum.

Perfetti van Melle's other brands include Air Heads chewy candies in the US and a large European portfolio which includes Fruittella, Sula, Alpenliebe and Morasitas candies; Frisk gums and mints; Lookolook children's sweets; Bloop and Mega Big Babol bubble gum; Wybert mints; Tabu and Klene licorice. The huge selection of chewing gums includes Brooklyn, Vigorsol, Chloralit, Daygum, Happydent and Vivident. The group has a significant presence in India and China, where - oddly enough - milk candy Alpenliebe is one of the best-selling sugar confectionery brands.

In several European markets, including Germany and the UK, Perfetti operated distribution and marketing alliances for several years with Chupa Chups of Spain. In 2006, Perfetti acquired its Spanish partner outright for around €400m. That deal added the latter's international products Chupa Chups lollipops and Smint mints to the Perfetti portfolio. The group also distributes Fisherman's Friend cough drops in several markets including the UK and Germany, through joint venture CFP Brands, a joint venture with Lofthouse Ltd.


As a private company, Perfetti Van Melle doesn't disclose detailed results. However the company declared record revenues of €2.62bn in 2015, up 7%. Candies accounted for 64% of revenues; chewing gum for the remaining 36%. Around 36% of revenues were generated within the European Union, and 8% elsewhere in Europe. Asia/Oceania added 39% and the Americas only 14%.

The business is privately owned by brothers Augusto and Giorgio Perfetti, who now reside in Switzerland. Forbes estimated their combined wealth at $6.2bn in 2015.


Ubaldo Traldi was replaced as CEO in 2013 by Sameer Suneja, previously head of the group's substantial business in India. Jan Heeling is chief marketing officer. Gerard Orriols is international marketing director for Mentos, supported by Elena Bolshakova and Nienke Debets (international marketing managers, global Mentos & Powermints).


The company was formed in 1946 by brothers Ambrogio and Egidio Perfetti, initially to make sugar candies. Brooklyn chewing gum was introduced in 1950, named in honour of the American wartime GIs who had first introduced gum to Italy, and featuring the iconic Brooklyn Bridge featured on its wrapper. This proved a huge success and the Perfetti brothers devoted their attentions to the new product, launching several other brands. Egidio Perfetti was kidnapped in 1975 and held for ransom. Four years later a second attempt was made to abduct him, but was foiled. As a result, the family left Italy to take residence in Switzerland.

In 1986, Perfetti took a step back into sugar confectionery with the acquisition of rival Milanese confectioner Davide Caremoli, makers of Golia liquorice candy, already a substantial brand in Italy. By this time, the company was run by Ambrogio Perfetti's sons Augusto and Giorgio, and they inherited overall ownership upon Ambrogio's death in 1989. (Egidio died two years later without heirs). Later the company turned its attention to other European markets, acquiring local companies including Sula confectionery in Germany and Frisk gums and mints in Belgium, or establishing sales and manufacturing facilities. In 1991, Perfetti acquired a minority shareholding in the Dutch confectionery company Van Melle.

Originally established in 1900 by Itzak van Melle, this company had established international distribution for its main brands Mentos and Fruittella in the 1970s, and launched its first US candy, Air Heads, in the 1980s. Perfetti acquired full control of Van Melle in 2001. Chupa Chups were first introduced in Spain in 1958 by Granja Asturias, a confectionery company owned by the Bernat family. The original name of Gol was changed to Chupa Chups in 1962. The current logo was introduced in the late 1960s, supposedly based on a design produced by the celebrated surrealist Salvador Dali for owner Enric Bernat.

Last full revision 11th October 2016

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