NACS Chairman Brad Call Addresses NCA State of the Industry Conference

NCA Logo masterNACS Chairman Brad Call notes the c-store and candy industries must work together to change the conversation around consumption and exercise in relation to the obesity epidemic ahead of future regulations.

By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor/News & Online

The National Confectioners (NCA) State of the Industry 2014 Conference kicked off in Miami, Fla. on Sunday, March 2 at the Fontainebleau and ran through Wednesday, March 5.

The convenience store industry’s own Brad Call, NACS 2013-14 chairman and the executive vice president of adventure culture at Maverik, Convenience Store Decisions’ 2013 Convenience Store Chain of the Year, addressed the conference on Monday, noting ways the two industries can work in tandem.

But first, Call captured audience attention, donning a Willy Wonka-style hat and playing a guitar while singing “The C-store Man Can” to the tune of the “The Candy Man Can.”

Then he turned more serious, noting c-stores make up 34% of the retail universe. But the competition on candy is steep, as sweet and salty snacks are sold in 41% of retail stores. Convenience stores are just below 34% a share (33.7%) when it comes to share of candy sales. Candy sales are up 2.3% and candy margins are up 2.6% at c-stores, Call noted.

But challenges remain. Snacks and candy continue to be blamed for the obesity epidemic and Call noted the candy and convenience store industries are in turn viewed as the villains causing the problem. Negative perceptions remain about the c-stores, such as that they offer unhealthy food (78%) and they are overpriced (82%), but positive perceptions exist as well, such as that they are easy to get to (95%) and they are open when customers need them (92%), among others. What’s more, a whopping 76% of healthy snackers credit snacking with helping them maintain their weight.

Call called for retailers and the candy industry to band together and change the conversation toward one of using calories consumed through exercise. Maverik is about to launch a “Consume it-Burn it” app that uses geofencing technology and rewards customers for exercise.

“There is too much focus on consumption—it’s also about calories going out through exercise. We want to celebrate consumption. The focus should be burn it first and consume it after,” Call noted.

“We need to work together,” he said.

Candy State of the Industry
Leslie Liss, vice president commercial solutions, dunnhumbyUSA and Larry Wilson, vice president of customer relations, NCA delivered information on the state of the candy industry.

Chocolate was a big winner in 2013. The industry saw 9% growth in dark chocolate, 16% in hazelnut, 14% in white and 6% in milk chocolate. Fun and sweet treats continue to be a hot trend. Promising seasonal growth continues, with seasonal sales up 3.2% across the board. Candy sales in the grocery channel grew the most, up 3.2%, and more people are buying candy online. The candy industry is looking to continue to elevate chocolate, as well as expand health and wellness programs to explain “what candy is and what it is not.” The industry is committed to educating consumers about what moderation means for confections. 

Candy Industry Honors
The conference recognized 2014 Confectionery Leadership Award winners, Jamal Parker, of Sam’s Club, and Tim Erceg, of Hy-Vee Inc.

The Supplier Member of the Year Award was presented to Katherine Clark, vice president of sales for Capol LLC, and the Distinguished Service Award was presented to Dean Spangler, chairman of the board for Spangler Candy Co.

The industry also said farewell to NCA President Larry Graham during an afternoon session on Monday, March 3. Graham plans to retire following the 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo in May. In a video presentation, the past 10 NCA chairmen shared memories of working with Graham.





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