NCA - State of the Industry Conference 2021

SOTIC21: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough eat gummy bears’

By John Downs

- Last updated on GMT

John Downs delivered his State of the Industry speech online this year. Pic: ConfectioneryNews
John Downs delivered his State of the Industry speech online this year. Pic: ConfectioneryNews

Related tags: SOTIC21, Nca

In an exclusive article for ConfectioneryNews, NCA president and CEO John Downs follows his opening address at this year’s virtual State of the Industry Conference, with a look back on a tumultuous year and presents a positive outlook for 2021 as life starts to return to normal enabled by the power of confectionery.

COVID-19 kept us apart, but chocolate and candy bring us together​.”

Throughout the past year, I’ve shared this sentiment multiple times. We speak often about the power of chocolate and candy, and the role of confectionery as a driver of emotional wellbeing has never felt more meaningful than it has within the past year.

As I shared with our audience at this year’s digital State of the Industry Conference, it’s been more than a year since the industry last convened in person – and what an uncertain and challenging time it’s been.

Confectionery remained a strong, important and resilient category with annual sales of $36.7bn across all channels

But as COVID-19 swept across the nation, our member companies mobilized and met challenges head-on. They dedicated themselves to worker safety, showed flexibility as they pivoted to e-commerce and worked hard to spread the message that confectionery spreads joy in times like these. The industry’s impact was also felt in our communities coast to coast, with products, dollars and volunteer hours donated in support of healthcare heroes, frontline workers and all those in need.

And amid all the changes we faced as a nation and our industry’s proactive philanthropic work to help us address those changes, confectionery remained a strong, important and resilient category with annual sales of $36.7bn across all channels. Chocolate sales climbed more than 4%, and non-chocolate sales grew almost 3%.

Online confectionery sales soared during the pandemic with more than three-quarters of American households buying candy online at least twice in 2020. Perhaps this is because many people spent more time than average thinking about their wellbeing.

Or, put another way, “When the going gets tough, the tough eat gummy bears​.” After all, more than 75% of Americans say that there is a deep connection between physical and emotional wellbeing.

If the past year was focused on resiliency and togetherness across the confectionery industry, I hope to see the year ahead defined by innovation and reinvestment in the confectionery category

We’re also excited about our annual State of Treating report​, the newest addition to NCA’s research offerings. This research was made possible by Blommer Chocolate, and seamlessly blends confectionery market performance and merchandising trends with shopper insights to provide a comprehensive look at the confectionery category. It includes a review of seasonal and everyday confectionery category performance, including channel outlooks, category drivers and the impact of COVID-19.

The power of confectionery

This report is tangible evidence of the power of confectionery to help us through tumultuous times, and I invite you to visit CandyUSA.com/StateOfTreating​ to access resources and learn more. There’s something for everyone – whether you work for a manufacturer, retailer, supplier, broker or just love confectionery.

My hope is that the findings of this report will serve as a roadmap for the months and years ahead as we continue to redefine our industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to confectionery’s new retail landscape after it has ended.

If the past year was focused on resiliency and togetherness across the confectionery industry, I hope to see the year ahead defined by innovation and reinvestment in the confectionery category.

Sweets & Snacks Expo 2021

Together, we have weathered the storm, and with the 2021 Sweets & Snacks Expo​ just around the corner, we are ready for a new world of possibilities that the post-pandemic landscape will bring and a sprint of industry innovation that will come alongside it.

Related topics: Editor's Blog

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