Five Questions With Paul Chibe


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Washington — Paul Chibe, President and CEO of Ferrero North America, the third-largest confectionery company in the U.S., is responsible for the candymaker’s brands and business in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. He has overseen Ferrero’s category growth through innovations and expansion of the company’s offerings and presence in the region.

Chibe has 30 years of experience in the confectionery and consumer products industries, starting his career at Leaf, Inc., a confectionery company acquired by The Hershey Co. during his tenure, then spending more than 10 years at Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. in senior marketing roles for its gum and mint brands. Chibe previously served as the U.S. chief marketing officer for Anheuser-Busch InBev. 

Candy & Snack TODAY caught up with Chibe as he begins serving a two-year term as Chairman of the NCA Board of Trustees. He most recently served as NCA Vice-Chairman and is taking over for departing NCA Board Chairman Kirk Vashaw, Chairman and CEO of Spangler Candy Co.

Candy & Snack TODAY: We just wrapped up our 2021 State of the Industry Conference — what were some of the big takeaways for you? 

Chibe: The most important takeaway is the clear resilience of our industry. Most of our industry has performed quite well during the pandemic, showing the strength of the brands, the strength of our industry’s connection to consumers as well as the important role our industry held in giving consumers something to indulge and find comfort in during a very tough time.  

Even through our strength, the industry remains in a period of dramatic change as 61 percent of consumers made some kind of change to their confectionery purchases last year, such as purchase decisions made through ecommerce. Now, more than ever, NCA members need to come together at these sorts of meetings to discuss, learn and plan for an uncertain future.

Candy & Snack TODAY: What are the major issues facing the industry?  

Chibe: Much of the industry is dependent on convenience stores, which are in turn dependent on commuters. There is a potential future of c-stores that will include less commuter traffic and fewer purchases being made there and in front-of-house while more are being made in the take-home category. Our industry needs to adapt and continue to innovate to help our retailer partners be successful. 

Additionally, we have a new administration and new Congress, which bring new challenges. Our industry must continue to work collaboratively with our lawmakers to help them understand our products, supply chains and business models.

Candy & Snack TODAY: The confectionery category has been resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. What are key learnings and takeaways that will move our industry and marketplace ahead as we head to a “new normal?”

Chibe: We as an industry need to understand what exactly this “new normal” will be. Even now, this is still a bit unknown, so we need to be able to fully understand what is coming so we can be properly be prepared. Trends we are seeing that will likely continue to be part of this “new normal” are shifts to ecommerce and in-aisle as well as challenges concerning foot traffic and employee needs.

Candy & Snack TODAY: How do you define effective advocacy as the industry looks to be involved in policy discussions at both the federal and state levels? 

Chibe: Effective advocacy leads to retaining the freedoms we have to market and continuing to have the commercial freedom we need. It is important for NCA member companies to be in regular communication with local, state and federal officials and be involved from a grassroots perspective so these stakeholders hear our voice. 

Candy & Snack TODAY: Everyone who works in the confectionery industry has played a part in our resilience during this unpredictable year. How can we continue to cultivate careers and leadership growth in our industry? 

Chibe: NCA’s Future Leadership Program is an excellent program that fosters young talent and their career growth. However, we as an industry need to do more to get young leaders involved in the business by showing them all the career opportunities available in confection, helping them find ways to connect with peers and industry veterans. At Ferrero, we recognize the importance of building people up for success throughout their careers and prioritize individual growth while putting emphasis on diversity and inclusion throughout the workspace, working to constantly improve. 

Additionally, we need to step up efforts to enhance the current reputation for working in the candy industry to make careers in confections appear as cool as working for a big tech company. The confectionery industry is built on brands that each have strong emotional ties to consumers. We need to capitalize on this connection to make this happen.