Five years ago, candy makers spent a lot of energy and money working against U.S. sugar farmers and workers during the 2014 Farm Bill.
Outsourcing U.S. sugar jobs to subsidized foreign producers was a top legislative initiative for the industry – and Big Candy was willing to claim no-cost U.S. sugar policy was causing them irreparable economic harm in order to win.
It didn’t work. Confectioners lost all five congressional votes taken on sugar policy during the debate. Lawmakers clearly didn’t believe the poor-mouthing…and for good reason.
One year later, the National Confectioners Association released an economic impact study bolstered by a flashy PR campaign entitled “The Power of Sweet.” To launch the campaign, which NCA says generated 20 million media impressions, the association paid Politico to run a sponsored article.
“For every job that we create in our industry we support seven more in related industries, which means that candy drives a multiplier effect of 1:7,” NCA’s president wrote. “Our industry is comprised of hundreds of small and medium-size, family-owned businesses as well as the multi-national companies with global brands that operate more than 1,000 manufacturing facilities in all 50 states.”
All told, the industry said it underpinned 465,000 U.S. jobs – including jobs in sugar production – and generated $35 billion in retail sales, in its 2015 report.
Fast forward to 2018.
Congress was debating another Farm Bill and confectioners again cried economic hardship, despite its previous Power of Sweet claims. Confectioners again advocated for a sugar policy overhaul that would harm its domestic suppliers and send U.S. sugar jobs to foreign countries with low labor and environmental standards.
Their lobbying effort didn’t work in 2018 either, and Congress rejected an attempt to gut the current no-cost policy by a lopsided 141-vote margin.
Undeterred, the candy makers just revived The Power of Sweet, this time with updated numbers.
So, just how harmful did sugar policy turn out to be, according the confectioner’s new study? Not harmful at all:
- NCA says the candy business now backs 607,660 jobs – up more than 140,000 jobs since its last report.
- Every direct confectionary job now supports 10 other jobs in the U.S. economy – a significant increase from the 1:7 multiplier effect noted in 2015.
- Candy is still manufactured in all 50 states, but the 2018 campaign boasts “nearly 1,300” U.S. manufacturing facilities instead of the “more than 1,000” cited before.
- And, the industry still describes its $35 billion in U.S. retail sales.
Strong sales. Manufacturing expansion. Job creation. These are incredible successes and are cause for celebration, indeed. As a vital domestic supplier to the confectionary industry, U.S. sugar producers are proud to be part of The Power of Sweet.
We just hope that our customers will stop lobbying against our jobs in future farm policy discussions – especially as we rebound from a struggling farm economy and unfair trade practices abroad that have forced some domestic producers out of business.