The National Confectioners Association and Candy & Snack TODAY have announced the recipients of the 2022 Confectionery Leadership Awards: Todd Gean, category manager – candy, Hy-Vee, Inc.; and Drew Germain, director of merchandise buying, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.

 “The retail landscape continues to change dramatically as consumers reach for both new confectionery products and treats that spark a sense of comfort,” said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “Over the past year, both Todd and Drew have carved out unique retail experiences for their customers that speak to the current retail moment and celebrate the best the confectionery industry has to offer.”

With more than 25 years of experience working in procurement for Hy-Vee, Gean has blended his knowledge and creativity to deliver unique solutions in the confectionery category for Hy-Vee over the past five years. During that time, Hy-Vee piloted industry-leading National Candy Month merchandising activations and launched a new series of Candy Shoppes, a store-within-a-store concept that worked with leading confectionery manufacturers to place rising confectionery trends at the forefront of Hy-Vee’s confectionery retail strategy.

“Merchandising in every Hy-Vee store is planned to create an experience for our customers that is second to none, and our confectionery activations are a big part of that experience,” Gean said. “I am humbled and excited to be recognized as a 2022 Confectionery Leadership Award winner.”

Germain has led the confectionery category for Cracker Barrel for nearly seven years, earning a reputation for executing top-tier retail displays for the latest candy innovations without losing the Cracker Barrel brand’s signature nostalgic point of view. His keen sense of the Cracker Barrel consumer has brought new life to nostalgic candy retail while ensuring a positive experience for consumers and manufacturer partners alike.

“The confectionery industry is inherently based on positive experiences,” Germain said. “Our guests associate candy with positive memories and feelings of nostalgia, which is ultimately what we do as a brand.”

NCA, in collaboration with Candy & Snack TODAY magazine, created the Confectionery Leadership Awards program in 2011 to recognize and honor the confectionery industry’s best and most innovative category champions and leaders. The program allows NCA manufacturers and brokers to recognize outstanding retailers and wholesalers in the confectionery community for their leadership, industry collaboration, confectionery category promotion and innovation.

The 2022 Confectionery Leadership Awards will be presented in conjunction with NCA’s State of the Industry Conference, which will take place March 13-15 in Miami, Florida.