The History of Haribo
If you are a gummy lover, then you must have tried Haribo, a gummy bear from Germany. They opened their first production plant in North America the previous month. The 500,000-square-foot facility, located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, primarily produces Haribo Goldbears. This is Haribo’s first U.S. facility and the company’s 16th worldwide, supporting the production of more than 160 million Goldbears per day. Haribo was founded in Bonn, Germany in 1920 and is now headquartered in Grafschaft, Germany.
Haribo is 101 years old and first appeared in U.S. stores in the 1980s, and now The U.S. has become Haribo’s fastest-growing market. According to Euromonitor, sales of fruit juice fudge in the United States increased by more than 127 percent between 2011 and 2017, reaching $115 million.
Haribo, which now operates as a family business, has gummy operations in 22 countries and regions around the world, with 15 factories in 10 European countries, including five in Germany. Haribo produces 100 million gummies a day worldwide, and the company’s annual supply of fruit-flavored gummies can travel 160,000 kilometers, four times around the globe.
The Birth of Gummy Bear
Unlike many well-known brands that are named after their founders, Haribo has a more joyous origin. It actually means Hans Riegel of Bonn – the name of the founder Hans Riegel, plus Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, where Hans started his gummy bear business. It all adds up to Hans Riegel from Bonn.
When the Tanzbär was introduced in 1922, two dancing bears were sold for one Pfenni in inflationary Germany. In 1925, Haribo began producing licorice products, the most popular of which was licorice snails. In 1960, the Haribo Golden Bear gummy was successfully launched, which was a development of the Dancing Bear but was softer and chewy than the previous Dancing Bear. One of Haribo’s best-selling candies, the Golden Bear Jelly Bear, as it is now known, has become a symbol of Haribo.
Haribo’s Secret To Success
More than half of Haribo’s turnover is generated outside Germany, and this trend is on the rise. More than half of the company’s 7,000 employees (4,000) are based abroad and are mainly engaged in production. In the battle for shelf space in US supermarkets, Haribo is the “winning general” and has been the leader in the US fudge market since 2018.
In Japan and South Korea, Haribo also has a large market share. It may seem odd that Haribo is still a bestseller at a time when the overall confectionery industry is struggling amid a global trend to reduce salt, sugar and fat intake.
Candy Composition Innovation
First, product innovation may be one reason. In fact, Haribo is not the originator of the gummy rubber, which has been produced in Turkey and Japan before, but it is made of rice and cornstarch mixed with gelatin, and the gelatin used in Haribo juice gummy is not too high in fat content, which also contains some protein, which can create a feeling of fullness and prevent overeating.
In response to consumer demand for fewer artificial ingredients in packaged foods, Haribo changed the synthetic coloring in gumdrops to a natural color extracted from fruits and vegetables in 2007. A chewy texture and a variety of juice flavors may be more pleasing than that.
In terms of shape, Haribo is also more iconic. The early “dancing bear” designed by founder Hans Riegel is the predecessor of the famous golden bear candy, with its limbs and PAWS raised flat, and later, with the change of consumer preferences, it has evolved into the “bear posture” that we see now.
Flexible Marketing Strategies
Haribo has also put a lot of effort into marketing. The first gummy bear commercial was aired on German television in 1962, and the slogan “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo” is still 98% popular today.
Famous German TV host Thomas Gottschalk has been Haribo’s advertising spokesperson since 1991, setting a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest advertising relationship, which is often cited by Haribo as proof of the brand’s popularity.
There is also a Haribo museum in France to show people the production process of licorice and fruit gumdrops. In 1985, Disney produced a cartoon series, Adventures of the Gummy Bears, inspired by Haribo Bears. Gummy Bear Song, a sweet English children’s song, has now been viewed more than 940 million times on YouTube.
Haribo advertises on TV and the Internet, and the advertisements are paired with children’s voices to narrow the distance with the target consumer groups. In order to comply with health trends, such as vegetarian, low-sugar and other concepts, Haribo is also willing to make changes.
In 2018, Haribo launched low-sugar fruit jelly in Germany and invested a lot of money in marketing, but German consumers did not buy it, and sales plummeted. But Haribo is not giving up on low-sugar fruit gummies altogether and is making these “healthy gummies” a niche product to prop up sales. There are more than 40 kinds of vegan fruit drops and licorice in the Haribo product range to meet the needs of the vegetarian population.
Acquisition of Global Companies
In order to increase its popularity, Haribo is also constantly making acquisitions. In the early 1970s, Dunhills, a traditional business in the United Kingdom, was acquired to produce a local specialty food, Pontefract Cakes, which was later fully integrated into Haribo in 1994. In addition, the famous German manufacturer of fruit jelly, Maoam, also joined Haribo in 1986.
With this global expansion, Haribo is not only selling well in the US, it is now the leader in the UK gummy market, with 550 tonnes sold every week and a turnover of £80 million. Starmix, a brand dedicated to the UK market, will contribute £30 million.
The introduction of corresponding flavors according to different market conditions can also be attributed to the reason for Haribo’s global marketing. In France, where people may prefer a marshmallow taste, Haribo offers Tagada and Chamallows, as well as Dragibus, a colorful fruity pearl candy coated with sugar, for the sweeter consumer. In Scandinavia, the specialty is a licorice jelly Matador Mix.
The classic BOLDBAREN that grew up with Germans is one of the most popular candy snacks today, and they are constantly innovating to create more candies that meet modern tastes.