Washington DC — Confectionery and snacks play a part in holiday celebrations for many Americans. As the season begins, NCA President & CEO John Downs answers questions related to the unique role chocolate, candy, gum and mints play in holiday traditions and celebrations and the opportunity to reinforce the message of moderation with kids.
Q: How many Americans will celebrate the winter holidays by gifting chocolate and candy?
Downs: 85 percent 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.
Downs: Consumers understand the unique role 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 and still practice moderation.
Most people in the U.S. enjoy candy two to three times per week, averaging about 40 calories and about one teaspoon of added sugar per day from confectionery items. Candy accounts for less than 2 percent of the average American’s overall caloric intake.
It’s also interesting to note that more than 90 percent 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: What are some ways candy companies innovate during the holidays?
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?
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 percent 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.
Q: How many people work in the candy industry?
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 in 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.