Georgia Nut Company Poised For the Future
From its beginnings in 1945 as a manufacturer of roasted and salted nutmeats, Georgia Nut Company, Skokie, Ill., has continuously sought to expand and strengthen its product portfolio.
First, due to the popularity of its original products, the company decided to create a line of confections, including a variety of chocolate panned, enrobed and drizzled pretzel, nut and dried fruit items under the Speckls!, Drizzls! and Teenies brand names, as well as toffee, taffy and other candies. The decision to expand into the confectionery category, and the resulting investment in expanded production capacity, opened up other avenues of opportunity for the company, such as contract manufacturing, industrial ingredients and private label production. Georgia’s itself may not yet be a well recognized brand, but many of the chocolate and confectionery items now in the marketplace have come from GNC’s production facility in Skokie, Ill.
“Recognizing that the candy category has become increasingly saturated and, at the same time, consolidated, we have opted to grow through the acquisition of established brands with a consumer following, rather than make the substantial and often risky investment in creating and developing new ones,” states Rick Drehobl, CEO of Georgia Nut Company.
In September 2004 GNC acquired the Sophie Mae Company, maker of the country’s No. 1 peanut and cashew brittle. Along with Sophie Mae, GNC broadened its branded portfolio with such nostalgia marks as Kits, Super Kits, BB Bats and Slo Poke (bite size and sucker).
While nostalgia brands have found new life among younger consumers, these same consumers are more savvy when it comes to design and style. Consequently, the brands will receive a face-lift, retaining key design elements while giving the packaging a fresh, updated look. The new packaging should be in retail stores by autumn of this year.
Having strengthened their position in the non-chocolate category, GNC next turned its sights on the premium chocolate category, which has enjoyed substantial growth in recent years. Although GNC’s current chocolate items are certainly of premium quality, the company’s equipment limited the types of chocolate products that could be produced.
In March of this year, Georgia Nut acquired Milwaukee, Wis.-based The Chocolate House, thereby broadening its distribution network and opening up a growing category for further development. Founded in 1948, The Chocolate House manufactures upscale enrobed chocolate products, including caramel, English toffee, mint meltaways, crème eggs and fudge under the brand names The Chocolate House, Positively Pecan, Absolutely Almond, Fudgie Bear and others.