ConfectioneryNews has analyzed data from OpenSecrets.org to unveil the candidates backed by major US confectionery firms and the most lobbied bills during the year.
OpenSecrets tracks contributions to political candidates from company-own PACs (Political Action Committees) and individual employees.
Data for the current electoral cycle was released on October 28, 2016.
Mondelēz: More Republican donations and GM lobbying
Mondelēz International and its employees have funded more Republican candidates than Democrats in 2016.
The company spent $490,000 on lobbying, while its PAC and employees together made $84,908 in political contributions. PACs contrbutions were five times greater than those from employees.
The most backed candidate was Hilary Clinton ($10,000) – although all funds supporting Clinton came from individuals at Mars rather than the company itself.
The most supported candidate from the company’s PAC was Republican member of the US House of Representatives Bob Dold ($9,000).
US representative Dold represents the district of Mondelēz’s global headquarters, located in Deerfield, Illinois.
“The Mondelēz International Political Action Committee makes contributions to candidates who represent Mondelēz International employees or facilities, serve on key committees or in Congressional Leadership,” Michael Mitchell, senior director of corporate external communications, told ConfectioneryNews.
President-elect Donald Trump only received $100 in political contrbutions from Mondelēz or its employees.
“We believe it’s important for the new administration to unite our country around fostering an environment that’s conducive to economic growth and prosperity, reducing unnecessary impediments to business and enabling US companies to compete fairly in a global market,” said Mitchell.
But he refused to speculate on any changes to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Mexico and Canada. Trump has called NAFTA “the worst trade deal ever” and has vowed to renegotiate terms or pull out.
Mondelēz’s most lobbied bill in 2016 has been the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 , which was signed into law by President Obama in July 2016.
“We supported the legislation because it created a national, uniform law for disclosure of genetically modified ingredients, and it prevented conflicting and costly state-specific requirements,” said Mitchell.
Hershey: Democrat swing
The Hershey Company has spent $477,000 on lobbying so far in 2016, and employees and its PACs have made $74,489 in political contributions. Contributions were five times higher from Hershey’s own PACs than from employees.
Its most supported candidates from its own PACs were Democrat senator Debbie Stabenow ($6,000), Republican
Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan ($5,000), and Republican senator Pat Toomey ($5,500).
Toomey is the current occupant of the ‘candy desk’, a tradition in the senate whereby the senator near an entrance keeps a drawer full of candies for passers-by.
Jeff Beckman, director, corporate communications at Hershey, said the company did not endorse specific candidates, but its government relations team works to ensure its voice is heard in state houses and on Capitol Hill.
“Toomey is the senator for Pennsylvania, our home state and the location of four of our eight US manufacturing plants.
“We supported Senator Stabenow because she is the ranking member of the agriculture committee, and agriculture policy impacts our business. We also supported Ryan because he's the speaker of the house,” he said.
Donald Trump received $458, but it is unclear if this came from the company’s PACs or Hershey employees.
The company and employees collectively supported more Democrats than Republicans.
Its most-lobbied bill in 2016 was the National Sea Grant College Program Act on GMO disclosure.
“We supported a single, nationwide standard for GMO labeling because we believe it will help protect consumers by eliminating a confusing and impractical patchwork of state-by-state labeling laws,” said Beckman.
Nestlé: Republican donations higher
Nestlé SA and its employees have made $60,896 in political contributions so far in 2016, while the company has devoted $1.8m to lobbying this year.
Nestlé’s most backed candidates were Democrat Jim Himes ($2,000) and Republican senator John Thune ($1,500). Its PACs supported more Republicans than Democrats.
Nestlé employees backed Hilary Clinton more than any other candidate with $16,836 in contributions – none of which came from the company itself.
There was just $400 in political contributions to Donald Trump, but it is unclear if it came from the company or employees.
Liz Caselli-Mechael, manager of corporate communications, said of any potential amendments to the NAFTA agreement, which Trump wants to renegotiate: “The vast majority of Nestlé products sold in the US are also produced in the US. Having said that, Nestlé is very supportive of free trade.”
Nestlé's most lobbied bill in 2016 was the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.
Caselli-Mechael said:”As a nutrition, health and wellness company, we are interested in the government’s nutrition policy and this year supported the FDA’s draft voluntary sodium reduction targets and 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
Mars Inc. makes no contributions
Mars Inc. has spent $1.7m on lobbying and individuals at Mars have dedicated $36,166 in contributions to political candidates so far in 2016.
All political contributions were by employees or Mars family members rather than the company itself.
“Mars does not make political contributions as a corporation,” a company spokesperson told this site.
The top recipient for contributions was Democrat presidential candidate Hilary Clinton ($14,884), followed by Ted Cruz ($4,471) and Bernie Sanders ($3,456).
Mars employees or family members contributed more dollars to Democrats than Republicans and only $114 to new US president Donald Trump.
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) and its employees spent $208,516 in political contrbutions in 2016, while the trade group has invested $166,000 in lobbying.
Republican senator Kelly Ayotte was supported with a $6,000 from the NCA’s own PACs.
The trade body also backed Democrat US representative Marcia Fudge, Republican US representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican senator Rob Portman, Republican representative Jackie Walorskiand Pat Toomey each with $5,000.
The NCA – which represents the $30bn US confectionery industry – financially backed more Republicans than Democrats.
There were no contributions to Trump and only $400 to Clinton from the NCA and its employees.
Its most lobbied bills were the Sugar Reform Act of 2015 and proposed legislation for a national voluntary labeling standard on GMOs.