Haribo working on plans to double size of Pleasant Prairie plant as it looks to build 2 million square feet

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Haribo chose Pleasant Prairie for its U.S. candy production plant in 2017 after considering more than 100 sites.

With production underway at its U.S. candy plant in Pleasant Prairie, Haribo of America is already designing a second phase of equal size, with two more that could bring the total plant to about 2 million square feet.

The second phase that is in the planning stages would bring 400 more jobs to the facility in addition to the 400 already expected for completed buildings, said Wes Saber, executive vice president and CFO of Haribo of America. He talked about the facility Haribo built west of Interstate 94 in Pleasant Prairie during a Milwaukee Business Journal Power Breakfast held Thursday in Milwaukee.

“We will double the size of our phase 1 with the second phase,” Saber said during a Q&A with Milwaukee Business Journal editor-in-chief Mark Kass.

The Wisconsin facility is making Haribo’s Goldbear gummi candies for the U.S. market. The international company has been active in the U.S. since the early 1980s, but has shipped its candies into the country from other plants around the world.

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Wes Saber spoke at the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Power Breakfast on Sept. 21, 2023.

Candy production started in December in Pleasant Prairie. Saber said that in Wisconsin Haribo has 187 direct employees, plus about 60 employed by other companies for shipping operations. Haribo intends to fill 220 more jobs for the buildings it has already completed in Pleasant Prairie, he said.

“We are deeply rooted in Wisconsin now,” Saber said.

Haribo reported spending $148.5 million on that first phase of construction, according to the most recent data available from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The state in 2017 awarded up to $22.5 million in tax credits for Haribo, and has released $8.6 million of that to the company thus far.

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A 2021 photo of the Haribo of America plant during construction

Three future phases would each bring another 500,000 square feet of manufacturing and shipping space, bringing the total Pleasant Prairie facility to about 2 million square feet, Saber said.

“That’s a lot of gummi bears,” Saber said of its production output.

Once all four building wings are completed, the facility will have a footprint in the shape of an “H,” Saber said, making it “the largest ‘H’ on Earth.”

The Milwaukee office of Gilbane is the lead builder for the second phase of work, and Mead & Hunt is doing the design work, Saber said. Outreach has begun to contractors to set the construction schedule, he said.

“They have already started the work with us for Phase 2,” Saber said.

Future additions to the plant could also include an experience center to attract visitors, and a store.

Sean Ryan, Milwaukee Business Journal

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