John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association (NCA), weighed in on candy’s role in the holiday season.
This holiday season, Americans will share and gift candy, enjoying their favorite wintertime treats in moderation. Chocolate, candy, gum and mints can play a unique part in holiday traditions and celebrations.
Q: How many Americans will celebrate the winter holidays by gifting chocolate and candy?
John Downs: “85% of Americans say they will likely give someone the gift of sweet treats this holiday season. Candy plays a special role in important holiday traditions. Candy canes, gumdrop-adorned gingerbread houses and chocolate coins are all synonymous with the holiday season. We are proud to be part of these time-honored celebrations and deliver all kinds of festive treats to consumers during this special time of year.”
Q: How can Americans enjoy candy in moderation this holiday season?
John Downs: “Consumers understand the unique role that confections can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle and they choose to enjoy candy in moderation. A traditional candy cane has just 55 calories, making it an easy treat to enjoy this month and still practice moderation.
Most people in the U.S. enjoy candy 2-3 times per week, averaging about 40 calories per day and about one teaspoon of added sugar per day from confectionery items. Candy accounts for less than 2% of the average American’s overall caloric intake.
It’s also interesting to note that more than 90% of parents discuss or plan to discuss balance and moderation with their children relative to their candy consumption. While most parents report having these conversations year-round, many use the holidays as a conversation starter.”
Q: How many people work in the candy industry?
John Downs: “Our industry is comprised of hundreds of small, family-owned businesses that pass on candy-making expertise from generation to generation. The companies that make chocolate, candy, gum and mints are job creators that have a presence in all 50 states. More than 55,000 employees of the industry work in more than 1,000 facilities to make the treats we all know and love. In addition, 410,000 Americans employed by industries like agriculture, retail, transportation and other industries rely in part on the sale of confections for their livelihood. In fact, for every one job that we create in the confectionery industry, another seven are supported in related industries.”
Q: What are some ways candy companies innovate during the holidays?
John Downs: “The holidays are a time of both nostalgia and looking ahead to a new year. We work hard to embrace both aspects of the season, offering longstanding favorite treats while embracing innovation in products and packaging. We make a wide variety of options – including fun holiday designs available in packages ranging from fun size to share size – that can bring a little enjoyment to any occasion.”
Q: Do people have a favorite holiday treat?
John Downs: “Three out of four Americans say the traditional peppermint flavor candy cane is their favorite candy cane variety. Beyond the classic candy cane, 36% of Americans prefer to find foil-wrapped chocolates included as part of a holiday gift. Of those that enjoy receiving gifts of chocolate, nearly half prefer chocolate Santas, while about a quarter each like chocolate snowmen or chocolate coins best.”
NCA’s 2015/2016 Seasonal Survey was conducted by 210 Analytics LLC using a database comprised of several million respondents who have agreed to participate in survey research. Interviews took place using a self-administered, online questionnaire. To maintain the reliability and integrity in the sample, each invitation contained a password that is uniquely assigned to that email address and must be entered at the beginning of the survey. Web-assisted interviewing software is used to control quotas in order to mirror the census profile in terms of key demographics such as age, income, region and other factors. The survey was completed by 1,630 individuals in August 2015. The margin of error is +/-2.43%.