NCA president John Downs hails market forecasts for industry growth

The president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, John Downs, has issued an upbeat assessment of the US confectionery sector for 2022 in the latest State of the Industry Conference, writes Neill Barston.

Confectionery Production is reporting on the event live in Florida, with the industry body using its State of the Industry showcase to unveil its continued progress in delivering growth despite the backdrop of the pandemic,

In an engaging and spirited address that included added lighthearted touches including the CEO showing off giant ‘monster boots,’ playfully bidding farewell to internal zoom meeting and a drone filming its audience of 600 sector leaders, there was also plenty of substance.

He noted that last year’s total confectionery sales of $36.9 billion would be eclipsed by 2024, when a total of $40 billion by 2024, amid continued category innovation and demand from consumers for an ever-greater array of sweets and snacks.

As Downs enthused, the “sun is shining on the confectionery industry’ which he underlined the sector’s hopes for the future, which he believed would be built on responding to the demands of younger ‘gen z’ and millennial consumers who valued sustainability and traceability as core purchasing factors.

“The last couple of years have been a real learning laboratory for all of us. I am thrilled to report that the state of our industry is as strong as it has ever been, and with the rise in spending power commanded by young millennials and gen z, and multicultural consumers, our demographic destiny for this industry is coming right towards us, noted the CEO, who said that the latest edition of the State of Treating report (which will be released at the event) offers a key platform from which to deliver renewed success within the sector.

“Last year was one of the best years that this industry has experienced,” he enthused of the state of the industry, which comes despite renewed pressures around the world including the pandemic, and increased costs of ingredients.

Notably, he explained that 2021 had seen a slight dip in online retailing, after a major Covid-19 boost for the segment in 2020 at the start of the crisis, which Downs noted underscored the importance of in-store promotions and advertising.

Significantly, he stated that last year, consumers began to re-engage with seasonal confectionery, after a ‘difficult and tumultuous’ 2020 in which many of us were kept from seeing family and friends, which had proved instrumental.

He noted that the most important factor for many people amid the pandemic was the notion of having a sense of community – with Downs noting that with this in mind ‘people are going to need confectionery more than ever.”

“If someone had told is in 2019 that we were all going to leave our offices for not just weeks, or months, but a couple of years, we would have thought that that person was crazy. But as of February this year, only 31 per cent of businesses had staff working back to pre-pandemic levels, and in some cases they won’t be going back.”

As a result, he said that providing employment environments that are nimble and flexible would be of significant for many employers sustainability. The conference is continuing with a number of core topics, including the reveal of its State of Treating report.








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