Confectioners Honor New Product Innovators

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Jun 30, 2015

MINPA Winners 2015 Hero Shot4In time for National Candy Month, the National Confectioners Association (NCA), Washington, has announced nine winners of its annual Most Innovative New Product Awards, as well as the Best in Show winner, TIC TAC Minions. a new limited edition of the iconic mints from Ferrero USA, Inc., Somerset, N.J. (see our article in the upcoming July issue of Food Processing):

  • Chocolate: Albanese World’s Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanuts from Albanese Confectionery
  • Non-Chocolate: Jelly Belly Pancakes & Maple Syrup Grab & Go Bag from Jelly Belly Candy Co.
  • Salty: Kettle Brand Potato Chips Thick & Bold Dill Pickle from Diamond Foods
  • Savory: Edward Marc’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Snappers, produced by Edward Marc Brands
  • Sweet Snacks: Hershey Co.’s Hershey 's Snack Mix
  • Gum & Mints: Project 7 Grapefruit Melon from Project 7
  • Gourmet Premium: SuperSeedz Maple Sugar & Sea Salt from SuperSeed
  • Novelty: BeanBoozled Mystery Bean Dispenser from Jelly Belly Candy Co.
  • Seasonal: ROCA THINS Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark from Brown & Haley 

These winning products and thousands of others were on view at the 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo in May at Chicago's McCormick Place. In all, 45 new confectionery and snack products across nine categories were named Most Innovative New Products, showcasing imaginative ideas, concepts and products in two of the fastest growing categories in the marketplace: confectionery and snacks.

Retail and wholesale trade customers electronically selected one winner in each of the nine categories that comprise the $90-billion U.S. sweets and snacks industry. “The Expo’s new product awards program showcases the best our industry has to offer in terms of creativity and innovation,” states NCA president and CEO John H. Downs, Jr. “From large, multi-national brands to small, family-owned companies, innovation is the heart of our business and it’s on display each year at the Sweets & Snacks Expo.”

The panel of judges comprised food specialists including Supermarket Guru and food marketing authority Phil Lempert, a registered supermarket dietician, top U.S. retailers and trend experts collaborated and taste-tested nearly 300 new-product submissions for the awards competition. Panel participants included Maribel Alchin, dietician and healthy living advisor from the supermarket chain Meijer, and Larry Levin, executive vice president of IRI, and retail executives from candy and snack companies including H-E-B, Hy-Vee, Hudson News, Ke-HE Distributors, Meijer, Inc., RaceTrac, Walgreens and Walmart.

The panel analyzed nine candy and snack segments, ranging from chocolate and non-chocolate to savory and salty snacks to a new category, gum and mints. Panelists rated product submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility then discussed the top performers in each segment to narrow the selections to five items in each of the nine segments.

In 2014 candy and snacks were responsible for 10 percent of total supermarket sales and 15 percent of the overall growth,” Downs comments. “Increasingly, retailers look to our Most Innovative New Product Award nominees and winners, and the trends represented among the selections, in order to determine will perform well in the coming year.”

Emphasizing the resounding movement of lower-calorie, smaller sized (portion-controlled) candy options, the Sweets & Snacks expo this year stressed "candy in moderation," as an essential part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. The Sweets & Snacks show also revealed several new candy and snack flavor trends, including:

  • Breakfast flavors --foods usually consumed before 8 a.m. are the inspiration for candies and snacks across various categories. from yogurt snacks to waffles and from peaches and cream to bacon.
  • Nostalgic and classic "childhood" flavors, such as fountain soda, pies, s’mores, birthday cake, and lemonade create memories of the past with big flavor.
  • Focus on fruit with sophisticated fruit varieties and flavor profiles such as Meyer lemon, blood orange and golden delicious apples, as well as the use of real fruit in products; not artificial flavors.

More information is available from the NCA at  www.candyusa.com.