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The Candy Man who Cried Wolf

While sugar and candy go together like peas and carrots, Big Candy and Big Sugar, as industries, go together more like the Hatfields and McCoys.  Indeed, not a day seems to go by that Big Candy isn’t taking a pot shot at U.S. sugar producers.

But doth the industry protest too much?

To hear Big Candy tell it, U.S. sugar policy is driving up the cost of making sweets, retarding consumption, reducing profits and forcing U.S. jobs out of the country.

But according to the American Sugar Alliance, “candy companies are expanding here in the U.S., setting new sales records, and enjoying impressive profits.”

Indeed, the Associated Press reported on March 31 that Mars, Inc. just opened “its first new plant in 35 years” in Kansas, “bringing about 200 jobs to the Topeka area.”

In Missouri, chocolate-maker Bissinger’s “is in the midst of spending $15 million renovating a 223,000-sq.-ft. building that will serve as its new headquarters in downtown St. Louis employing 100 people” and tripling its manufacturing capacity.

In Stratham, NH, Lindt & Spruengli announced last month that it planned “to boost production at its U.S. headquarters by 8 to 10 percent, where it will start making high-quality treats for China for the first time.”  And according to Economic Times, the company “reported 24% net profit in 2013 and predicts 2014 growth to be in the 6% to 8% range.

In Hobart, Indiana, Albanese Confectionery revealed plans last month “to double, maybe even triple, the number of production lines at the candy maker’s facility” and add new jobs.

Overall, reports that “2013 was a strong year for confections as the number of confectionery trips as well as the number of confectionery buyers grew steadily, and new products added $890 million in sales last year alone,” while Larry Wilson, vice president of customer relations for the National Confectioners Association, declared that “In 2013, business was big, growing and profitable.”

And market research analyst Matt Hudak, told the Associated Press that “candy makers can expect to see annual growth in chocolate sales stay above 3 percent, making chocolate ‘a continual bright spot.’”

Growth, expansion, profits, jobs.  Doesn’t exactly sound like a chocolate Armageddon.  Perhaps Big Candy’s belly-aching has less to do with the cost of sugar and more to do with corporate greed.  Perhaps we need to start taking it with the proverbial grain of salt.