What have your first 18 months in the confectionery industry
John Downs Jr.: I am proud of what NCA has been able to accomplish
in such a short time frame. We set forth on an aggressive new strategic
plan that focuses on engaging the public regarding their understanding and appreciation of candy’s unique role in a happy, balanced lifestyle. To achieve this vision, we rolled out Candy360, a program built
to protect and enhance the image, reputation, access and availability of confections. A major part of Candy360 is a new brand identity
for NCA, including a new logo, a new tagline for the industry (Always
a Treat) and a new, contemporary CandyUSA.com website. We also
released an economic impact study of our industry with the theme:
The Power of Sweet.
What is the economic impact of the confectionery industry?
Candy is made in all 50 states and in more than 1,000 facilities across
the country. The manufacturing of candy helps fuel the U.S. economy. The confectionery industry represents $35 billion in retail sales
and directly employs 55,000 people. For every person employed in
the candy manufacturing sector, seven more jobs are created or supported in allied industries, which is a 700 percent impact. More than
400,000 jobs in retail, agriculture, transportation and other industries
are impacted by our members’ businesses. In total, 465,000 people
rely on the candy industry for part or all of their income, including grocery store employees. That is the Power of Sweet.
How is the confectionery industry performing and what are
the key drivers?
With 98 percent household penetration, shoppers continue to appreciate candy as an occasional treat for celebrations, special occasions
and as personal reward. In fact, seasons were vital to industry growth
this past year. The confectionery business is among the top three performing categories in the grocery channel. In 2015, candy sales grew
three percent and the grocery channel led that increase.
How are NCA members working with grocers to support
growth in the retail environment?
Supermarkets continue to be an ally and driving force in the confectionery category, with gains of six percent in seasonal items and more
than 15 percent in premium chocolates. Manufacturers also continue
to promote portion control with new and innovative packaging.
NCA has provided a roadmap for retailers
and manufacturers to bring seasons to life
and inspire shoppers with unique seasonal items and exciting in-store experiences. This also translates to a bigger
basket ring and more incremental sales.
New item introductions remain a major
contributor to growth and high shopper
satisfaction, which contributed nearly $2 billion across all channels.
What new developments will we see at the Sweets & Snacks
Expo this May in Chicago?
Every year, even with one of the highest satisfaction rates among trade
shows, we evaluate how we can improve and deliver even more value
to the industry. We have expanded our show floor and, in turn, have
added a second hall this year. The new Skyline Hall will help accommodate more than 120 new companies that have been waiting for an
opportunity to exhibit with us.
Attendees will learn about trends in shopper engagement from
Google, cutting edge technology will be revealed by CES tech-hunters
and attendees will experience an entrepreneurial showdown of two
of the most innovative candy and snack products not yet on shelves.
Four acres of products on the show floor highlight the newest
and most innovative candy and snacks from more than 700 companies, and we expect close to 17,000 visitors this year—the most in our
How can grocers and the confectionery industry work together
From the multi-national companies whose brands are loved around
the world, to the small, family-run companies that make up about
two-thirds of our industry, we feel it is important for people to know
that candy is an authentic, transparent, fun treat. We will be loudest in
telling our story during the candy holidays of Halloween, Christmas,
Valentine’s Day and Easter. In June, we are going to utilize National
Candy Month as a vehicle to help drive our vision for the industry and
to highlight the faces and voices of our industry with thought leaders
and retail customers. Grocery retailers can join us by participating in
National Candy Month as a way to celebrate that candy is a small part
of our diet, but a big part of our lives.
WITH JOHN DOWNS JR.
John Downs Jr., president and CEO of the National Confectioners
Association (NCA), says the upcoming Sweets & Snacks Expo has
an expanded show floor and a second hall.
JOHN DO WNS JR.