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Hy-Vee, Cracker Barrel Execs Honored for Confectionery Leadership

2022 awards to be presented at NCA’s State of the Industry Conference
Todd Gean

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) and Candy & Snack Today magazine have revealed the recipients of the 2022 Confectionery Leadership Awards: Todd Gean, category manager – candy at Hy-Vee Inc., and Drew Germain, director of merchandise buying at 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,” noted NCA President and CEO John Downs. “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 a quarter-century of procurement experience at Hy-Vee, Gean has combined his extensive knowledge with his creative sense to devise unique solutions in the confectionery category for the Midwestern grocer over the past five years. In that time, Hy-Vee piloted successful National Candy Month merchandising activations in June and launched a new series of Candy Shoppes, stores-within-stores that, in collaboration with top confectionery manufacturers, showcased rising confectionery trends.

“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,” said Gean. “I am humbled and excited to be recognized as a 2022 Confectionery Leadership Award winner.”

Germain has guided the confectionery category at Lebanon, Tenn.-based Cracker Barrel for almost seven years, executing top-tier retail displays for the latest candy offerings without losing the restaurant and gift store chain’s signature nostalgic vibe. 

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

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

The 2022 Confectionery Leadership Awards will be presented during NCA’s State of the Industry Conference, which is scheduled for March 13-15 in Miami.

Washington, D.C.-based NCA represents the U.S. confectionery industry, which generates more than $37 billion in retail sales each year. Making chocolate, candy, gum and mints, the industry employs almost 58,000 workers across more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities in all 50 states. 

Employee-owned Hy-Vee has a team of more than 91,000 employees and operates 285-plus retail stores across eight Midwestern states. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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