Ferrero Sets Its Sights On NA Expansion


Parsippany, NJ — Alanna Cotton took over the reins of Ferrero North America, including the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, in September and is overseeing aggressive investments by the company in manufacturing, R&D and talent. Candy & Snack TODAY recently sat down with the president and chief business officer to talk about the company’s stated objective to be a world leader in the sweet packaged goods market and how it is tackling global challenges. 

Candy & Snack TODAY: The Ferrero North America portfolio has expanded with the acquisition of the Nestle chocolate brands, Keebler and Mother’s Cookies and the launch of products including Kinder Joy, Kinder Bueno and Ferrero Golden Gallery. How is this growth impacting the company, and are there plans for further acquisitions and launches? 

Cotton: Through our organic growth and acquisitions, we have added about 1,300 new team members in the past year and are now more than 5,100 “Ferrerians” strong in North America. Integrating new people and brands is bringing valuable new perspectives and energy to our work. As for the near future, rest assured it is bright!

Candy & Snack TODAY: Ferrero has made a lot of investment in production facilities in the North American market in recent years. How is that changing the way it does business here? 

Cotton: Ferrero is growing, innovating and investing in North America. These investments will help us supercharge our momentum here. The distribution centers we set up in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona in the past few years are helping our products reach more shelves and pantries across America and ensure more flexibility and responsiveness to our retail partners.

The chocolate processing facility we’ll be opening this year will allow us to make chocolate right here in the U.S. for not only our products made in Bloomington but also Brantford, Ontario and beyond. We broke ground on a new Kinder Bueno facility in Bloomington as well, which will help us meet the growing demand of the product here in North America.

And soon, we’ll be opening a new Innovation Center and R&D lab in Chicago along with offices for our Fannie May and Cookies, Cones, and Crust brand teams, where our teams will create North America’s future favorite treats. 

Candy & Snack TODAY: What lessons has Ferrero North America taken away from the pandemic? 

Cotton: The pandemic presented challenges for businesses across many industries, and of course every household across the world. Companies and families adapted. They also rediscovered that treats are an affordable, accessible bit of joy no matter what is happening in your life or in the wider world, and our products provided that throughout and were able to grow.

The pandemic also accelerated some long-term consumer shifts as well. One trend we feel will continue is premiumization, which in CPG is about consumers expecting more flavors and varieties, better taste and higher quality ingredients. Ferrero is very well positioned to take advantage of this trend across our portfolio — from Butterfinger and Baby Ruth’s upgraded ingredients to Ferrero Rocher’s category leadership. 

Candy & Snack TODAY: Your background is in consumer technology and beverages; what differences and similarities are you finding in the confectionery and cookie categories? 

Cotton: I consider myself an engineer-turned-marketer-turned-general manager, but no matter what role or industry I’ve been in, I’m always trying to help drive brands and businesses to the next level, and always with an eye on long-term success. 

I have to say, I’ve found the sweets and treats business to be fun and fascinating, and filled with a wide array of different kinds of businesses and people. It’s a dynamic industry! 

At NCA’s State of the Industry Conference earlier this year, I was struck by the sense of connection and comradery among everyone, and I was thrilled to meet leaders and experts from companies of all sizes.

Candy & Snack TODAY: What are some of the major issues facing the confectionery industry, and how is Ferrero addressing them? 

Cotton: Global instabilities are causing uncertainty, and businesses of all sizes are faced with unpredictable challenges. Getting the right materials to the right places and then getting your products to market has become much more complicated. You’re seeing a change in companies’ priorities when it comes to supply chains. Before, many were streamlining and cutting costs, and now, we’re all trying to ensure supply chain security and consistency. 

In our case, quality and continuity of supply are paramount. We’re willing to invest more to get our products on store shelves if they get there with the same quality ingredients that we’ve delivered to customers for the past seven decades.  

Candy & Snack TODAY: What market challenges do you see for Ferrero in the next few years? 

Cotton: In North America, Ferrero is growing, innovating and investing. Of course, this is very positive and presents exciting new challenges to our teams for sure. We will be welcoming many new team members, making sure they feel part of our vision and that we’re making the most of their talent. We will continue to listen to consumers and get ahead of their ever-evolving tastes and needs. And we will need to ensure that the new facilities we’re building and those we’re integrating are designed, supported and staffed to truly grow our capabilities to make more and more delicious treats here.

These are good challenges to have, and I’m enjoying working with our dedicated teams across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean to tackle them.

Candy & Snack TODAY: Looking ahead, what are Ferrero’s five- and 10-year strategies in the North American market? 

Cotton: Ferrero Group wants to be a world leader in sweet packaged foods, and our North America team is key to achieving that goal. In the coming years, you’re going to see more new product innovations, more capital investments and continued category-driving growth from Ferrero in North America.