Candy's Strongest Advocate

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Candy's Strongest Advocate

By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News - 02/19/2015

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The last 12 months were a busy time for the National Confectioners Association (NCA), but the organization isn't slowing down. The next year promises to be just as busy and even more important for an industry that is fighting for its place in Americans’ balanced, moderated diet, officials reported Wednesday at the 2015 NCA State of the Industry Conference.

"There's a war on sugar and the battle line is drawing close to us," said Peter Blommer, vice chairman of the NCA and president and chief operating officer of The Blommer Chocolate Co.

As certain parties have blamed confectionery products for the nation's obesity crisis, the NCA has spent the last year acting as an advocate for the category by holding more than 300 meetings with members of Congress, highlighting the economic impact of candy and exploring the health benefits of products such as dark chocolate. At the same time, the NCA worked to answer all of its members' questions about product labeling and the Food Safety and Modernization Act.

Additionally, the NCA spent time reminding people of what candy is and is not. "Candy is fun. It's a treat," Blommer said. "It's simple and easy. It's a moment of joy. It's part of life's celebrations. … It's absolutely embedded in our childhood memories."

Blommer and Bob Simpson, NCA chairman and president and chief operating officer of Jelly Belly Candy Co., outlined what NCA members can expect during the next 12 months. Along with continued legislative and regulatory advocacy, the NCA will release a comprehensive research plan, a responsibility report on the confectionery industry's sustainability efforts, a daylong media event and more.

NCA members are also urged to support CandyPAC, the NCA's political action committee, through which it will continue this year to advocate for the industry at the legislative level.

The second day of the annual State of the Industry event included a call for moderation from returning speaker Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC News, who stressed the importance of good science in determining how candy has and has not contributed to issues such as obesity, tooth decay and diabetes. She noted that while the word “rationing” has been "hijacked as a bad word," it's fine to ration products like candy as part of an overall healthy diet.

"As human beings, we make choices about what fits best for us," said Snyderman.

Other day two speakers included:

  • Walgreen Co.'s Maurice Alkemade, who outlined what to expect from the strategic partnership between Walgreens and Boots Alliance;
  • Mike Weinstein, chairman of INOV8 Beverage Co., who explored the rise, fall and second rise of Snapple as a brand;
  • Nicko Debenham, vice president of global cocoa sustainability for Barry Callebaut, who showcased success strategies for cocoa farming and sustainability in West Africa;
  • Marc Mathieru, senior vice president of marketing for Unilever, who discussed building successful brands; and
  • Jeremy Gutsche, founder and CEO of TrendHunter.com.

The National Confectioners Association's 2015 State of the Industry Conference concluded today.