By Bernie Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry
pacyniakb@bnpmedia.com

getting fresh: How to script a feel-good ending

Everyone loves hearing, reading or viewing a good story, particularly when it has a feel-good ending. Take the movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” for example. Who would have thought that this relatively low-budget Bollywood movie would capture not only the minds and souls of millions of viewers, but the cynical celluloid crowd of Hollywood, as well?

Of course, in these tough economic times, everyone is looking for some uplifting news, particularly when it involves people truly less fortunate than us.

When news came across my desk -- rather, my computer screen (you can tell who’s really “old school”) -- about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledging $23 million to the World Cocoa Foundation to help thousands of cocoa farmers in West Africa, I recognized the potential for another feel-good ending to a good story.

It’s important to point out that the Gates Foundation grant also will be supplemented by financial and in-kind contributions ($42 million) from our industry, including major branded manufacturers such as The Hershey Co., Kraft Foods and Mars, Inc.; cocoa processors such as Archer Daniels Midland Co., Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Co. and Cargill; and supply chain managers and allied industries such as Armajaro, Ecom-Agrocacao, Olam International Ltd. and Starbucks Coffee Co.

These funds hopefully will provide the kind of ending we’d all like to see in our good story, that of cacao and chocolate. I mean what other ingredient can claim a royal heritage dating back to the Oltecs in Mexico, an ingredient that delivers pleasure, energy and health to millions of consumers?

Given its specific growing parameters -- 15 to 20 degrees north or south of the equator -- cacao provides consumers with an “Indiana Jones-like” origin, fragrant with subtle nuances and settings.

A bit too romanticized you say? Perhaps, but if you were to check out the Web sites of chocolate manufacturers involved in producing various single-origin, organic or Fair Trade chocolates, you’d find out that there’s a tremendous amount of storytelling going on regarding where the specific cacao beans are sourced and how they’ve been transformed into chocolate.

The romanticized aspect comes from the actual nurturing and harvesting of the cacao, a labor-intensive process that until most recently provided subsistence-only levels of income for most farmers.

The other reality involves the need for many farmers to work their plots using family members, most often their children, to help transform a crop to cash. The uglier reality is that many children miss out on school and endure hardships and injuries as a result. Although rare, there are still instances where children have been pressed into forced labor by others as a means of survival.

This recent announcement by the Gates Foundation, which by its very nature draws public attention, reaffirms the effort being made by the industry to ensure there’s a happy ending in chocolate and cacao’s good story.

There’s no guarantee that all the children involved in working on farms in West Africa will be part of this script, but as long as a good percentage are, that’s uplifting. It only makes a good story better.

For more information about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visit www.gatesfoundation.org. For more information about the World Cocoa Foundation, visit www.worldcocoafoundation.org.

ALL CANDY EXPO to hit windy city

Attention confectioners, chocolatiers, snack food producers and retailers: The ALL CANDY EXPO is right around the corner! Manufacturers already are securing exhibition space for the show, which will be held May 19-21 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The expo, which is billed as “the largest confectionery, cookie & snack show in the Americas,” will feature new products from manufacturers of confectionery products, chocolate, candy, gum, salty snacks, cookies, popcorn, biscuits, breakfast snacks, nutrition bars, meat snacks, fruit snacks, granola bars and nuts.

For more information about exhibiting or attending the show, visit www.allcandyexpo.com. For further details about the expo, check out future editions of sweet & healthy.








Retailers, manufacturers unite for Go Organic! for Earth Day

With Earth Day coming up on April 22, it’s time for Go Organic! for Earth Day to begin its campaign. Now in its fifth year, Go Organic! for Earth Day will bring together U.S. grocers and organic food manufacturers to increase consumer awareness about organic products and drive organic product sales. Consumers will be able to locate stores near them that are participating in the promotion by logging on to www.organicearthday.org.

Additionally, throughout April, the program will offer retailers a national cooperative consumer promotion, including point-of-sale signage, in-store merchandising, a national public relations campaign and Web and e-mail marketing.

Brands participating in the organic promotion include Clif energy bars, Barbara’s Bakery cookies, Nature’s Path snack bars, Country Choice cookies and snack bars, and Kashi snack bars.

Go Organic! for Earth Day is a collaboration between the Organic Trade Association (www.ota.com), Earth Day Network (www.earthday.net) and MusicMatters marketing agency (www.musicmatters.net).

For more information, visit www.organicearthday.org.

National Nutriton Month gives second chance to get healthy

The American Dietetic Association has named March National Nutrition Month with the theme of “Eat Right.” In order to help consumers keep their New Year’s resolutions and live a healthy lifestyle, Washington, D.C.-based D’Acqua Ristorante recently released the following health tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

*Emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk products in their diets.
*Eat lean sources of fish, eggs, poultry, meat, beans and nuts.
*Reduce the amount of saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, sodium and cholesterol in their diets.
*Don’t eat more calories than their bodies require.

For more information, visit www.eatright.org or www.dacquadc.com.

James E. Nevels

Hershey chairman resigns, new chairman elected

After serving as The Hershey Co.’s chairman and CEO from 1994 to 2001, and as non-executive chairman since November 2007, Kenneth L. Wolfe has resigned, effective immediately. Wolfe decided to step down after the Hershey Trust Co., trustee of the Milton Hershey School Trust and the company’s controlling stockholder, requested that he not stand for re-election at Hershey’s annual meeting of stockholders on this coming April 30. In a release, Hershey said that the Trust wanted to elect one of its representatives on the board to serve as Chairman of the Board, which is consistent with the company's historic governance model.

James E. Nevels has since been elected the new non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. Nevels has been a member of the board since November 2007. He also is a director of Tasty Baking Co., the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Hershey Trust. He also is chairman and founder of The Swarthmore Group, a minority-owned investment-advisory firm. Additionally, Nevels will be the first African-American Chairman of the Board in Hershey’s history.

For more information, visit www.hersheys.com.







Studies reveal cocoa flavanols' anti-depressant effects

Cocoa polyphenols, or flavanols, may help to reduce the symptoms of depression, according to a recent study by Barry Callebaut. The research was conducted by the French ETAP-Applied Ethology, Centre de Recherche en Pharmacologie, Cancerologie & Pathologies Humaines et Nutrition-Sante’ in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy and published in the international scientific journal Nutritional Neuroscience.

Cocoa extract was tested at two doses in an internationally recognized, validated ethical and ethological behavioral animal test, which mimics the depressive feelings in humans. By administering the lowest dose of cocoa extract in the two weeks, a “clear and significant” anti-depressant effect was seen.

The study suggests that the antioxidants in cocoa polyphenols may be the reason for the mood-elevating effects; however, further studies are required to determine which components of the cocoa polyphenol extract demonstrate the effects.

Barry Callebaut’s Acticoa chocolate is one of the richest natural sources of cocoa polyphenols, or flavanols. These flavanols also offer cardiovascular health, concentration and memory and skin benefits.

For more information, visit www.barry-callebaut.com.

sweet of the week: sweetriot unBAR

Celebrating its third birthday this year, New York-based sweetriot has launched the unBAR, “the unofficial bar of the world.” It comes in two varieties: Flavor 65, which is 65% dark chocolate with cacao pieces, and Flavor 70, which is 70% dark chocolate with cacao pieces and raisins. Known for its “peaces” line of dark chocolate-enrobed cacao nibs, sweetriot describes the unBAR as featuring “mega peaces” infused with its cacao “peaces.” Both available flavors are all-natural, gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher. The unBAR also offers a solution for consumers looking for portion control; it contains just 45-50 calories per “mega peace.” The suggested retail price is $2.49-$2.99 per bar. For more information, visit www.sweetriot.com.