Jelly Belly's Sweet Decision

The candy manufacturer implements enterprise-wide applications to streamline its supply chain.


Business was sweet for the Jelly Belly Candy Co. The maker of the world's most popular jelly bean, the family-owned firm was experiencing double-digit growth year after year. With sales booming, Jelly Belly expanded its manufacturing plants and distribution centers in the U.S. and began construction on a third facility in Thailand to keep up with the growing demand.

The Fairfield, CA-based company makes more than 100 types of candy, including 110 flavors of its signature Jelly Belly jelly beans. In fact, the company sells more than 12 billion Jelly Belly jelly beans each year--producing some 22,000 a minute. The beans account for about 75 percent of the company's sales, which topped $150 million last year.

Despite its outward success, however, Jelly Belly was experiencing internal growing pains, relying on a 10-year old legacy system comprised of disparate business applications. Data was inaccurate and unsynchronized and the warehouses were running on a separate system. The company wasn't able to do capacity planning, forecasting or real-time cost analysis, capabilities that are crucial for today's manufacturers.

"In manufacturing, you've got to be on your game--especially in food manufacturing," says Ryan Schader, Jelly Belly's vice president of business development. "You're always up against large overheads and you would like to run as much product through the system as possible and keep your factories utilized, but you don't want to run so much that your product quality or service levels decline."

Schader points out that making jelly beans is a complicated process with a long lead time, requiring complex supply chain planning. "We have 50 ‘official' flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans and our number one selling mix is 49 flavors. That mix goes into multiple SKU's, and to make the 49 Flavor Mix, you've got to make the individual beans which each take anywhere from seven to 21 days to manufacture.

"We source globally and are dealing with about 5,000 raw material inputs to produce roughly 1,400 SKUs and we have co-packing operations in China, which require six months lead time," says Schader. "Compound that with the seasonality of the confectionery business and you've got a pretty complex puzzle."

To sort out the pieces of the puzzle, Jelly Belly looked for an ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution that would simplify and streamline its supply chain, as well as reduce costs and provide greater visibility into company-wide data.

"This didn't start out as an IT-centric project, but more as an appeal from the user community," says Dan Rosman, Jelly Belly's information technology vice president. "Our users needed more modern, advanced tools like demand planning, better customer management functionality and more detailed control of the manufacturing process. We started the project looking at a variety of different solutions, trying to meet the business needs from the application perspective.

"We were looking for an integrated solution with one database and one interface on a single platform," says Rosman. "We were using Cimpro, which was a non-relational database type of system with multiple data files. The system didn't have the capabilities for capacity planning or elemental cost analysis, nor did it have a good demand planning or forecasting component to it."

In addition, Cimpro did not have a WMS (warehouse management system) component. "We were using another vendor's WMS, which ran on a different platform, and the two systems were patched together with some home-grown interfaces. There were a lot of issues with inventory balances--the two systems were out of sync," says Rosman. "Our goals were to consolidate our technology platform and modernize the underlying infrastructure, and find a more functional system that would be easy for our employees to use."

Finding The Solution

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