By Maggie Gioia | Marketing Coordinator
Last week, National Convenience Distributor’s sales and procurement teams headed to the National Confectioner’s Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. Annually held at McCormick Place, the expo is an industry resource for confectionary innovation, helping to identify trends and inspire change.
Sweets & Snacks — which celebrated their 25th anniversary this year — featured nearly 700 exhibitors, over 100 exhibitors in the supplier showcase and 16,000 attendees across a four and a half acre campus. According to the NCA, those who attended got the first look at the latest candy and snack items, including those that are driving these key trends —
“S’more Variety: You won’t need a campfire to enjoy the quintessential taste of summer. S’mores flavored treats – and everything you need to make them – are taking over this summer and throughout the year.
Flavor Intensity: Salty, sweet or turn up the heat? There’s something for everyone looking for a more intense flavor in their favorite treat. Look out for flavor extremes: amp up that sour flavor, introduce some heat into your sweet or pick the spiciest chip.
Newstalgia: This year, it’s all about ‘newstalgia’ featuring fresh and innovative twists on the classics you know and love. It’s treating like you’ve never experienced before.
All About Options: Everyone treats a little differently, which is why confectionery and snack companies are offering a range of package sizes and product types to meet every occasion.”
Though the event focuses on product launches, it also provides “business-building solutions” and strategic merchandising techniques to attendees. While Sweets & Snacks has had a $21 million economic impact on the City of Chicago, the expo’s contributions have certainly extended further.
“We look forward to coming to Sweets & Snacks every year,” said Dennis Williams, executive vice president of procurement at NCD. “The industry is always evolving, so it’s important to keep learning and reinventing ourselves to respond to that evolution. Sweets & Snacks gives us the opportunity to discuss, view and be educated on new items and trends.”
In addition to the educational experience of Sweets & Snacks, NCD presented their proprietary brands, Uncle Ed’s Pantry and Craft House Bakery. NCD’s booth highlighted Uncle Ed’s Pantry’s to-go versions of healthy snacks and classic candies, and Craft House Bakery’s handcrafted, single-slice New York-style baked goods.
“Sweets & Snacks offers us a platform to showcase our proprietary brands to the national audience. Introducing new and innovative items allows the audience to taste, touch and smell products they may have never been introduced to before,” said Frank Talarico, vice president of field sales at NCD’s Tri-State Division. “NCD participates in Sweets & Snacks annually to support the customer community and to promote awareness of our brand. We take pride in our brands and are thrilled to be exhibitors each year.”
The next Sweets & Snacks Expo will be held in May of 2023 at McCormick Place in Chicago, marking the end of their approximately 30-year residency at the venue. Future Sweets & Snacks expos are set to take place in Indianapolis and Las Vegas, with planned returns to Chicago every few years.