Downs Shares Future Of Chocolate At FCIA Event

John Downs, NCA president and CEO, addresses attendees at the Fine Chocolate Industry Association’s Elevate Chocolate event.

San Francisco — NCA President and CEO John Downs detailed the importance of innovation, transparency and sustainability to the chocolate sector’s future during a speech at the Fine Chocolate Industry Association’s (FCIA) Elevate Chocolate event in San Francisco this past weekend. He also announced the Association would provide support for the Heirloom Cacao Preservation fund.

“There is no end in sight to the emotional and social connections consumers have with chocolate,” he said. “But that does not shield us from the same disruptions that face other industries. We need to be radically open-minded about these challenges, while still being mindful of the opportunities they present. The industry is poised for growth — if we stay focused on meeting consumer needs and embracing the opportunities presented to us, growth will come.”

Answering consumers’ calls for transparency, Downs highlighted the industry’s Always A Treat Initiative, a commitment by America’s leading chocolate and candy companies “to provide consumers with more information, options and support when enjoying their favorite treats,” NCA reports. As part of its five-year commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America, the industry has pledged that by 2020 90 percent of its best-selling products will have front-of-pack calorie information and half of individually wrapped items will be available in pack sizes containing 200 calories or less.

During the speech Downs also highlighted opportunities for the industry around ecommerce, consumer education and continued focus on corporate social and environmental responsibility.

Downs closed his address by touching on the chocolate industry’s work to establish a sustainable cocoa supply chain, explaining: “Our member companies have analyzed and mapped their supply chains to better understand their social, environmental and economic footprints. The majority of their impacts and challenges are in the agricultural area through the raw materials and commodities they source, like palm oil, sugar, almonds, nuts, raisins, dairy, cocoa and more.”