Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, the 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo hosted a sold out show at Chicago’s McCormick Place to an audience of more than 16,000 qualified industry professionals. The Expo, held May 20–22, is being touted as the confectionery and snack industry’s most successful, world-class event.
“For the fifth year in a row, the Expo saw exceptional growth in all areas,” commented NCA EVP Alison Bodor. “The 2014 show attracted the largest number of exhibitors we’ve ever had, including a record-breaking 167 first-time exhibitors. Our show sold out in January with a wait list of nearly 90 companies — the earliest sell-out ever. In a challenging economy this demonstrates our event provides vital business opportunities, insights, innovations and resources that the industry views as a priority and reason to attend.”
For the first time the Expo hosted more than 650 exhibitors of candy, snack and gourmet products from 23 countries with global industry participation from more than 90 countries. The sold-out Gourmet and Natural Marketplace has doubled in size in the last four years.
"The record-setting show floor square footage — 165,500 net sq. ft. — and number of exhibitors grew 5% over last year,” said Quinn. “Just when we thought we couldn’t get bigger, we did. We had 167 first-time exhibitors — showing how entrepreneurial our category is.”
In addition, nearly 6,000 pre-qualified candy and snack trade customers registered to attend, representing key distribution channels like grocery, convenience, and mass as well as niche and specialty outlets. The Expo is the only venue that represents all of the major U.S. distribution channels of candy and snack products in one location.
“Seen as a proven destination by more than 96 percent of past retailers surveyed, attendees recognize the Expo is a solid business value to not only stay on top of innovations and trends, but also to solidify existing partnerships while making new connections. NCA and the entire Expo team continue to exceed expectations creating a “WOW” experience that has helped us grow for the last five years,” Quinn added.
This year more than 280 products were submitted for NCA’s Most Innovative New Product Awards which recognize the hottest new confectionery and snack products on the market. Thought leaders including retail customers, food industry icons, trend experts, a retail dietician and celebrity chefs collaborated and taste-tested the entries to determine the top five items across nine category segments; then retailers determined the most popular item in each segment as well as an overall Best in Show product by voting on the first day of the show.
“The number of products submitted for this awards program were up almost 25% from the year prior, demonstrating the nimble innovation that happens in the candy and snack category,” said Tim Quinn, Expo chairman and VP of trade relations at Mars Chocolate North America. “New candy and snack items in 2013 alone were the leading source of growth for both categories which together delivered more than 20% of center store growth; our manufacturers know how important it is to meet the demands of the consumer through innovative and diverse products.”
Adding to the Expo’s value to both attendees and exhibitors, the New Product Showcase featured more than 315 showcases full of new products.
Among many highlights of the morning keynote sessions was NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman who praised the special place that candy holds in a balanced and healthy lifestyle, saying that it is a part of a global continuum that connects us all.
“If you try to deprive people of something, they’ll find a way to get it anyway and then gorge themselves on it. It’s rooted in our brains,” said Snyderman.
The 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo will be held May 1–21 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Even though the 2015 show floor has increased, it is already nearly 90% sold out.