Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it too.
The month of June saw the National Confectioners Association (Big Candy) and its members brag to lawmakers about the growing economic might of its industry while simultaneously trying to convince Congress that no-cost U.S. sugar policy was leading to economic hardship.
Take for example a June 16 op-ed by Big Candy’s CEO that claimed “U.S. sugar subsidies are destroying U.S. manufacturing jobs” and making it impossible for U.S. candy makers to compete.
On the same day, Big Candy also celebrated the creation of the Congressional Candy Caucus, “which recognizes and highlights the economic impact…of candy manufacturers in all 50 states.”
The caucus announcement went on to boast: “The confectionery industry provides 55,000 manufacturing jobs in more than 1,000 facilities across the country, and has a direct economic impact of $35 billion. For every 1 job that the industry creates in manufacturing, another 7 are supported in related fields like retail, agriculture and shipping.”
Not even Big Candy’s members can hide the truth about what’s really transpiring in the marketplace.
Around the same time the op-ed was printed, Wm Wrigley Jr. Co. announced that it was investing $50 million into a 145,000-square-foot plant expansion outside of Chicago to produce more Skittles candy. That expansion will add 75 new workers to the 300 employees who are already at the plant pumping out Life Savers and other candies.
And that announcement came just days before Elmer Chocolate cut the ribbon on a $40 million plant expansion in Louisiana that increased its manufacturing employment by 66 workers.
As for claims of global un-competitiveness, Nevada-based Kimmie Candy put that complaint to rest in May when the company received the President’s “E” Award for steadily growing its exports. Expanded sales, the company said, was made possible after it moved its production back to the United States.
These aren’t isolated examples either. Since the current U.S. sugar policy took hold in 2008, candy companies and producers of other sugar containing products have added jobs, increased production, and boosted profitability, according to a study recently released by the dean of the University of Maryland’s business school.
So which is it, Big Candy? Do you represent an industry teetering on the brink of destruction or a vibrant one that is helping fuel U.S. economic growth?
The facts overwhelmingly support the latter – a competitive, profitable, expanding U.S. confectionary industry. Certainly not a struggling one.
You can’t have it both ways for the sake of political convenience.