Opinion

The Power of Sweet: A Classic American Manufacturing Success Story

If you notice that the halls of Congress seem a bit sweeter this week, it’s because chocolate and candy company executives from across the country are in Washington sharing their stories of community involvement with members of Congress, government officials and other stakeholders.

From the small, multigenerational, family-owned operations to multinational companies with strong global brands, confectioners are vital to the American economy. With nearly 1,300 facilities in all 50 states, our industry is a classic American manufacturing success story.

A new report shows that the companies that make chocolate, candy, gum and mints have an economic impact of $44.6 billion, which fuels the creation of nearly 54,000 American manufacturing jobs. For every one job created in confectionery manufacturing, another 10 jobs are supported in other industries.

This means that our vibrant industry supports more than 550,000 other Americans who rely in part on the sale of confections for their livelihood, including retail, agriculture, transportation and more. Confectionery retail sales in the United States total $35 billion, which includes $1.8 billion in American exports to other countries. Our industry also pays $13.3 billion in total taxes per year.

But confectionery manufacturers have an impact that goes beyond strong support for the economy and the creation of good-paying jobs. Most Americans believe their emotional well-being is as important as their physical well-being, and chocolate and candy companies provide fun and nostalgic treats that consumers enjoy with balance in mind. Consumers understand that chocolate, candy, gum and mints can play a unique role in a happy, balanced lifestyle. In fact, most people in the United States enjoy chocolate and candy two to three times per week.

What many people do not realize is how deeply ingrained the companies are within the communities they serve. America’s chocolate and candy companies are good corporate and community citizens — they’re responsible marketers, committed to sustainable ingredient sourcing, and helping consumers manage their sugar intake. The industry as a whole has taken proactive measures to support their communities and communities around the world, with individual companies leading specific charges within their hometowns.

In my current role, I have had the opportunity to visit many National Confectioners Association member companies and meet the men and women who are the backbone of American manufacturing. I have visited factories throughout the country to learn from the people who power this great industry and make it so special.

Learning about how an individual’s personal history can become intertwined with the long history of a confectionery company, I have seen examples of multigenerational family involvement at both the owner and employee levels. I’ve met only a fraction of the more than 600,000 Americans whose jobs are impacted by confectionery, but each one embodies the familial nature of this exciting and ever-growing industry.

The company representatives who are in Washington this week will bring that narrative to life, sharing stories from the people who work in their manufacturing facilities and the community members they support. We’re proud to make American products with American workers in towns and cities across America, and we’re proud to represent the companies that have employed these American workers for decades. Joining us this week are a fifth-generation candymaker from Northern California, executives from the last major candy cane producer in the United States, and many others who contribute to the richness of the American economy.

So, the next time you take a moment to enjoy your favorite treat, know that the Power of Sweet is doing its part to drive our communities and our national economy.

 

John Downs is president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association.

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