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On May 21-23, 2013, Chicago, IL, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo was held at McCormick Place. This year’s sold out show, which is not open to the public, posted fourth straight year of aggressive growth with more than 15, 000 audiences in attendance with 12 percent of Expo visitors traveling from outside of the U.S representing more than 90 countries.

This annual show attracted more than 6,000 retailers with key distribution channels such as, candy and snack trade customers, representing grocery, convenience, mass and niche and specialty outlets, in hopes to finding the next big thing to hit the market.  With more than 2, 000 retailer ballots cast for the Expo’s Most Innovative New Product Awards. The chance of finding something that will satisfy customer’s ever growing demand for tasty innovation is quite good.   “New item submissions for the awards were up 17 percent from the year prior despite a flat year of new product releases according Datamonitor,” remarked Tom Quinn, vice president trade development of Mars Chocolate North America and Expo chairman.

“For the fourth year in a row, the Expo demonstrated significant growth in all areas. Our ten percent increase in overall Expo registration is an accomplishment we relish,” commented NCA President Larry Graham. It was also noted by NCA that 85% of slots for the 2014 confections show are sold.  The Expo proves to be a solid business value not only for well-established vendors, but for newcomers as well. After all, where else for a relatively small investment you can gain the same chance of exposure as the larger competitors.

With 600 different candy and snack vendors at the show, there is something to satisfy the growing demand. From every possible chocolate treat to a variety of candies and popcorn, and, of course, jerky treats from meat lovers to a vegetarian variety.  A relatively newcomer to the jerky market was Perky Jerky competing with the likes of Jack Links.  Perky Jerky claims to have ultra-premium beef and also offers ultra-premium  turkey jerky. Some of the other companies present were Werther’s Original, KitKat minis, Leon’s (dry fruit company), and Treat Street (candy poopers).

With growing demand for “healthier” snacks, bite-size or miniaturized versions of virtually all your favorite snacks are emerging; from mini KiKat to Snickers bars. As consumers are trying to be more health conscious, the confections industry is responding with creating from “minimeals” to ”minisnacks.”

The 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo will take place May 20-22, again at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

For information on future events or event sponsorship, please write kontinentmedia@gmail.com.

Leonard Mogul
Kontinent Media

Photos by: Alex Riemann

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