WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Confectioners Association (NCA) honored two confectionery veterans at the 2023 State of the Industry Conference, held earlier this month in Aventura, Fla.
Ross Born, who served as CEO of Just Born Quality Confections before his recent retirement, was recognized with NCA's Lifetime Achievement Award, an accolade that recognizes Born's vision, hard work and dedication that has significantly contributed to the confectionery industry.
"Over his 40-year confectionery career, Ross made incredible contributions to NCA and the entire confectionery industry, but it is his infectious positivity that stands out to me," said John Downs, NCA president and CEO. "His passion for elevating the consumer experience, his spirit of cooperation and collaboration within the industry and his faithful support of NCA over the years have made Ross a role model I admire and respect tremendously."
Born has actively participated in NCA activities throughout his time in the industry. He served as the elected board chair from 2006-2008, and volunteered his time on the CandyPAC Committee and various government affairs committees, international steering committees and multiple strategic planning task forces.
An ardent supporter of NCA's pursuits, Born ensured that Just Born company was one of the first to sign up for the All Candy Expo in its debut year in 1997. The company has since been an integral part of what is now the Sweets & Snacks Expo.
For more than four decades, Born, a third-generation candymaker, served alongside his cousin David Shaffer in their family business, becoming co-presidents of Just Born in 1992. During Born's tenure, the company experienced significant growth with its iconic brands, including Peeps, Mike And Ike, Hot Tamales and Boldenberg's Peanut Chews. Just Born is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023.
At the annual State of the Industry Conference, NCA also honored Anton Vincent, president of Mars Wrigley North America, with the Distinguished Service Award. The honor recognizes those who have worked to make a positive and lasting impact on the confectionery industry, often in cooperation with NCA.
"Anton is shaping the future of chocolate and candy with his pioneering spirit, demonstrating that progress in confectionery comes from bravely challenging existing norms," Downs said. "With leaders like him at the helm of this sector, we can look forward to continued innovation for years to come."
Under Vincent's leadership, Mars Wrigley played a pivotal role in the success of the Always A Treat Initiative, a voluntary, five-year commitment to Partnership for a Healthier America for chocolate and candy companies to offer more transparency, choice and portion guidance options to consumers seeking to manage their sugar intake. Mars Wrigley's investment in research and development, product and packaging innovation, and redesigning existing products helped the initiative exceed set benchmarks for success while establishing the industry as a thought leader in the food policy space, according to NCA.
In September 2022, Vincent served as the confectionery industry representative on a panel discussion at Georgetown University focused on a new report, "All Indulgent Products Are Not Created Equal." The report found that chocolate and candy should not be grouped with other indulgent foods and beverages for the purposes of policymaking because they are not purchased or consumed the same way as other foods. The Always A Treat Initiative is highlighted in the report as an example of a significant industry effort to help consumers make more informed choices.
Vincent also leads the cross-segment Regional Presidents Council and is the principal Mars leadership voice for industry and regulatory matters in the United States.
Mars Wrigley is a leading manufacturer of chocolate, chewing gum, mints and fruity confections, whose brand portfolio includes M&M'S, Snickers, Orbit, Extra and Skittles.
Washington, D.C.-based NCA is the leading trade organization for the U.S. confectionery industry, which generates $42 billion in retail sales each year.