John Downs, president and ceo of the National Confectioners Association, spoke about the future of the confectionery industry at the CHOCOVISION conference in Davos, Switzerland, this week.
“No matter how the industry changes and shifts in the years to come, we know our category will continue to be relevant and grow,” he said. “How can we be sure? Because there is no end in sight to the emotional and social connections that consumers have with our products.”
Downs noted 90 percent of Americans said they couldn’t live without some form of chocolate. The chocolate industry still remains strong, with $35 billion in market sales, employing over 55,000 Americans and supporting 400,000 additional U.S. workers whose jobs rely in part on confectionery manufacturing.
Nonetheless, there are still many challenges for the chocolate sector, Downs noted. 
“But, that does not shield us from the same disruptions that face other industries.” he said. “We need to be radically open-minded about these challenges, while still being mindful of the opportunities they present.”
Consumers are aware that chocolates are treats and most will consume chocolate and candy two to three times a week. However, demand still remains for healthier options, a challenge Downs wants the industry to meet head-on. 
“Last year, five leading confectionery companies and their well-known brands came together in a ground-breaking commitment, the Always A Treat initiative, to provide consumers more options in smaller pack sizes, portion guidance and clear calorie labels right on the front of pack,” Downs said.
Issues the chocolate sector faces can be solved by embracing diversity, transparency and listening to consumers, Downs added. 
“Our category is unique,” he said. “We’re not just making great-tasting products, we’re helping to create memories.”
CHOCOVISION is a conference founded in 2012 and held every two years for business heads and politicians involved with the chocolate sector. Its used as an open discussion forum about the state of their industry and other business happenings.