The National Confectioners Assn.’s annual Sweets & Snacks Expo sweetened Chicago’s McCormick Place May 20-22. U.S. confectionery sales grew a “solid” 2.5 percent in 2013, according to association figures, which translates into $33.6 billion in total sales.
Seasons are a driving force in this business, with 54 percent of annual candy and gum sales occurring during peak seasonal selling weeks. Chocolate represents close to 60 percent of all confectionery sales in the U.S.
The show drew a record 16,032 attendees and more than 650 exhibitors. But, as the name implies, the expo shows much more than candy. Salty/savory snacks are a significant part of the show. Seeds, grains (including “ancient grains”) and power foods were evident in the aisles.
A couple of product awards were presented, the result of voting by buyer-attendees. The inaugural “best in show” award went to Hershey’s York Minis. Other best new products in various categories were:
- Chocolate (Chocolate Traveler’s Tabasco Dark Spicy Chocolate Wedges)
- Non-Chocolate (Jelly Belly Draft Beer jelly beans)
- Seasonal (Vigneri’s Doodle Egg
- Novelty/Licensed (Leaf/Astro Pop’s Sour Farts Flow Pack)
- Salty Snacks (Gourmet Basics’ Slim Chips)
- Sweet Snacks (Bare Snacks’ Show Me the Honey Coconut Chips)
- Gourmet Premium (Ripple Brands’ Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut with Almonds)
- Gums & Mints (Project 7 Coconut Lime)
- Savory Snacks (Pop! Gourmet’s Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Popcorn.