More than 800 exhibitors and 2,000 new product launches set the tone at this year's Sweets & Snacks Expo — the 22nd annual event hosted by the National Confectioners Association (NCA).
Covering the categories of chocolate, non-chocolate candy, gum, mints, sweet snacks, savoury snacks and more, confectioners and snack manufacturers on the show floor are showing off scores of new products for varied snacking occasions — from in-between meal fillers, to on-the-go portability, to any-time-of-the-day indulgence. The new products boast bold, savoury and sweet flavours, new formats, and overall new experiences.
"Innovative new products generate fun and excitement for consumers, which is key to building a satisfying and compelling shopper experience," said John Downs, president and CEO of NCA. "The companies highlighting their new products should feel proud of what they have created and their impact, which drives category growth in our vibrant industry."
The first day of the expo featured the presentation of the 2019 Most Innovative New Product Awards winners. Finalists and winners were determined by a judging panel that tested and evaluated more than 300 submissions across nine categories based on four core criteria: taste, innovation, packaging and go-to-market ability.
The 2019 Most Innovative New Product Awards winners are:
- Chocolate: Kit Kat Duos Mint + Dark Chocolate, The Hershey Co.
- Non-Chocolate: Lemon & Marshmallow Flavored Jelly Beans, Just Born Confections Inc.
- Sweet Snacks: Whole Raspberries Freshly Frozen & Immersed in Premium White and Milk Chocolate, Tru Fru LLC
- Salty Snacks: Cheez-It Snap'd, Kellogg Co.
- Savory Snacks: Triscuit Wheatberry Clusters – Pumpkin Seeds & Sweet Corn, Mondelēz International Inc.
- Novelty/Licensed: Sour Patch Kids Twin Tube Freezer Bars, Jel Sert Co.
- Seasonal: Trolli Candy Corn, Ferrara Candy Co. Inc.
- Gourmet: Whole Raspberries Freshly Frozen & Immersed in Premium White and Dark Chocolate, Tru Fru LLC
- Gum & Mints: Tic Tac X-Freeze, Ferrero USA Inc.
Additionally, Trolli Sour Crunchy Crawlers from Ferrara Candy Co. took home the Best In Show award; and Newfangled Confections LLC walked away with the Small Business Innovator Award, which recognizes the top-ranked product from among all items submitted by companies with $500,000 or less in sales.
The Ruby Award for Supplier Innovation, which celebrates breakthrough innovation from the supplier community that advances the confectionery industry, was presented to Cascades Inc. for its next-gen Northbox packaging. Described as the first-ever fully recyclable, insulated packaging in North America, it is made of recycled materials and provides multiple insulation options for various shipping needs.
"Sustainability is becoming more and more important for consumers as they seek companies that source responsibly and proactively recycle," Downs noted. "With the introduction of its Northbox packaging, Cascades has created a unique solution to help confectionery manufacturers meet the changing demands of both their retail customers and consumers. In addition to being both recycled and recyclable, the Northbox product provides an energy-efficient alternative to refrigerated trucks and is a terrific option for confectionery distributors."
The 2019 Sweets & Snacks Expo took place May 21-23 at Chicago's McCormick Place West.