Sweets and Snacks Expo Brought WOW Factor to Attendees
Walking into the Sweets and Snacks Expo at McCormick Place, the smell of candy and popcorn was almost as powerful as the bright colors of the 650 booths seen covering 165,000 plus square foot of exhibit space.
And the 16,000 attendees clearly were enjoying the expo and samples of candy and snacks that were plentiful during the show that was held May 20-22.
“We have seen a strong jump in attendance in our show, both with exhibitors and attendees,” said Theresa Anthony, senior director of the National Confectioners Association Expo.
She added, “We have also expanded our international presence, with over 90 different countries represented, and had five international pavilions on the show floor.”
Greg Wilson, sales manager at Cosmos Creations, said he was happy to see such a strong international presence.
“We have not only talked to retail buyers from North America and Europe, we have also seen attendees from South America, which gives us great exposure,” he added. “Once the show is over, we are very excited to see the results from the engagement on the show floor.”
According to Anthony, trends in the confectionery industry include ‘free from’, such as gluten-free and fortified snacks, and a move to natural-based snacks.
Also, with the demand for products growing, companies are starting to use new ingredients to create something unique, such as beer-flavored jelly beans. In addition, seasonality is driving the industry, and the show provided seminars on how to merchandise seasonal confections, among other topics.
“Our goal for attending the show was to get a flavor for the industry and players, and help us with resources and networking as we launch our new business,” said Beth Renaud, president of The Sweet Tooth.
First-time exhibitor Robin Strickland, ‘Big Boss’ at Big Little Fudge, also was looking for those connections.
“This show has been fantastic. We have been able to network with retailers, distributors and brokers,” she added. “We even have had conversations around exporting, which gives us great avenues to explore. The show provides great resources as well for companies just starting out.”
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) offers many resources, both for long-time industry players and those just starting to get involved with the industry.
“The Sweets and Snacks Expo has a main goal of giving attendees a memorable experience in an industry that is in constant change and growth,” Anthony said. “And we encourage all in the industry to become a member of the NCA so that they can learn, grow and give back.”
Long-time attendee Robert Chiostri, vice president of Drug Channel Sales at Carlin O’Brien, compared the early years of the show to today. “
The show used to be called the All Candy Expo, and was fairly small,” he said. “It is amazing to see how much the show has evolved, and to see the expansion of the types of products at the show and how the industry has truly developed and matured over time.”
Next year’s show takes place May 19-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago.