I haven’t heard anything about the Starbucks chocolate line being discontinued.
Since I didn’t attend ACE this year, it’s hard to comment on their behavior. But I’ve found most of the “big candy” companies are much less focused on the folks who wander into their booths than the small companies that have booths that are too tiny for wandering into.
For the most part the staff on the floor aren’t even sales reps, they’re just booth meat - there to hand out samples and field requests. I think because most of the small companies have to buy Hershey’s through a wholesaler/broker, there’s no reason for Hershey’s to have to talk directly to retailers ... so they don’t.
Personally, I’ve always found them cold, since the first ACE I attended in 2006. But a smaller/sparser booth is probably an indication of the economy (though candy is still strong). A lot of companies are cutting back on the huge expenses associated with trade shows.
However, when it comes to their other chocolate lines like Dagoba and Scharffen Berger, I see them at a lot of other trade shows like ExpoWest and the Fancy Food Show, so perhaps they’re concentrating their outreach efforts there.