The National Confectioners Association and Candy & Snack TODAY have announced the recipients of the 2021 Confectionery Leadership Awards: Maureen Keenan, category manager – seasonal candy, CVS Pharmacy; and Peter Kempton Jr., category manager – center store, TravelCenters of America. 

The Confectionery Leadership Awards will be presented remotely during NCA’s virtual State of the Industry Conference on March 9.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of adaptability, innovation and collaboration with our retail partners as critical components to the confectionery industry’s success,” said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “During this challenging year, Maureen and Peter contributed to the resilience of the category, leading with a growth mindset and an eye toward our industry’s future.”

Having been with CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, for more than 25 years, Keenan worked her way from store manager to her current position. Her ability to quickly pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic and analyze new industry trends ensured that CVS’ seasonal candy displays continued to inspire shoppers, allowing CVS to outperform the general drug store category in confectionery sales.

“In 2020 I tried to expand my knowledge and my relationships, looking at things in new ways,” Keenan said. “I spent time coming up with ways to do things differently and understanding the business in new ways to figure out how to expand our reach and meet our customers’ needs.”

Kempton Jr. has been with TravelCenters of America for 11 years, serving as a category manager for the past five and a half years. He has built a reputation for collaborating with confectionery manufacturers to stay ahead of shopper trends. 

In June 2020, he partnered with NCA to pioneer TravelCenters of America’s National Candy Month promotion, expanding the share of total store for the confectionery category.

“In 2020, we looked at what we could do differently to branch out,” Kempton said. “Attending the 2020 State of the Industry Conference planted the seed of National Candy Month, and we were able to build that into an event in the store last year that helped drive sales.”

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.