The Sugar Beat
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) puts out a daily newsletter to members and others who follow the candy business. That publication has been an intriguing source of double talk over the past month.
On balance, it’s been full of good news. The NCA touted in one post that “Easter confectionary sales have been trending upward, growing from $2 billion in 2009 to $2.02 billion in 2010…projections for 2011 to $2.062 billion in sales.”
And the final haul from Valentine’s Day chocolate sales was reported in another entry to be up nearly 3 percent.
Companies, in turn, saw strong profits. The industry’s newsletter directed readers to a news report of Hershey reporting $1.56 billion in sales for the financial quarter—an 11 percent increase—with net income climbing nearly $13 million from the same period a year ago.
Kraft Foods “reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit,” another article in the NCA newsletter noted. Net revenue for the company rose 11 percent to $12.6 billion.
This positive news is apparently trickling out into a hurting job market too. A May 9 NCA newsletter posting said of Michigan job growth: “ [Former] Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been touting wind energy as a source of jobs, but it added 45 jobs in 2008, compared with 350 for confectionery and nut stores.”
Sounds like the industry has reason to celebrate. But to NCA, stories of strong sales, growing profits, and job growth have no place on Capitol Hill.
That explains the recent briefing NCA’s lobbyists held on Capitol Hill about sugar policy, which according to a recent newsletter post, is leading to job loss and reduced profits for candy companies.
So on one hand, the industry is selling record amounts of product, creating jobs, and seeing strong profits—all in the midst of a national economic crisis—but on the other hand, it wants lawmakers to believe that America’s no-cost sugar policy is leading to economic ruin for candy makers.
“Sounds like the NCA wants to have it both ways,” said Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance. “We are happy that our customers are doing so well, but they should trumpet this success instead of leading lawmakers into believing there’s doom and gloom in the confectionery business—especially considering the future of sugar farm families and the 146,000 jobs they support hangs in the balance of the next Farm Bill.”
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