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Profile of the U.S. Candy Industry

About the National Confectioners Association

NCA candy makers have been manufacturing candy, one of life’s little pleasures, since 1884. Today, NCA represents 290 companies that manufacture and market the vast majority of chocolate confectionery, sugar confectionery and gum sold in the United States, 260 companies who supply those manufacturers, and 135 companies who serve as third party sales agents for manufacturers, known as brokers. 

Two-thirds of NCA’s members are small businesses. Many of the industry’s manufacturers are now fourth and fifth generation family-owned companies, started by immigrants before the turn of the century. There are confectionery manufacturers in more than 40 states, with a particular concentration in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio and California. 


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2009 there were about 70,000 confectionery manufacturing jobs in more than 1,000 facilities across the country; when you count the related number of sales and distribution jobs associated with the industry, that number triples. Confectionery workers are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco, and Grain Millers; United Food and Commercial Workers International; and the Teamsters Unions.


Confectionery manufacturers spend more than $4 billion on commodities each year including:

  • More than 2.2 billion lbs of sugar at a cost of nearly $770 million
  • About 1.9 billion lbs of cocoa beans and related products costing more than $2.3 billion
  • More than 800 million lbs of corn sweeteners at a cost of $240 million
  • More than 1.0 billion lbs of U.S. dairy products costing $450 million
  • More than 380 million lbs of peanuts, the majority of which are grown in the U.S., at a cost of more than $190 million
  • More than 75 million lbs of California-grown almonds and other nuts costing $150 million

Commodity costs are rising across the board!

Performance and Economics

The confectionery industry is stronger than ever with the average consumer spending, on average, $102 on confectionery products in 2013.  U.S. confectionery sales grew at a solid rate of 2.5 percent, which translates to about $33.6 billion in total sales.  Seasons are a driving force behind confectionery sales, with 54 percent of total annual candy & gum purchases occurring during peak seasonal selling weeks. Chocolate represents close to 60 percent of all confectionery sales in the U.S., according to U.S. product shipment figures. 

Source: NCA projections / Department of Commerce / Euromonitor International


NCA and confectionery industry are long time supporters of free trade.  Most confections from other countries receive duty-free access into the U.S. and we seek trading parity to assist American businesses increase their export opportunities.  Specifically, we support the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement that is under negotiation now. Free trade agreements represent opportunities for the U.S. confectionery industry to increase exports and thereby increase their consumption of US grown commodity inputs and add American jobs to the work force.

The top U.S. candy export markets:

  • Worldwide - $1.8 billion
  • Canada - $709 million
  • Mexico - $281 million
  • South Korea - $94 million
  • Australia - $57 million
  • Japan - $57 million
  • Panama - $49 million
  • Philippines - $42 million
  • United Kingdom - $39 million
  • Hong Kong - $34 million
  • Singapore - $34 million

Source: Global Trade Atlas