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CHICAGO -- The 2012 Sweets & Snacks Expo, which rebranded itself four years ago from the All Candy Expo in an attempt to attract snack companies to the annual confectionery trade show, said participation of snacks suppliers among the show's exhibitors has grown substantially.
Since the rebranding, snack company's participation at the Expo has grown, particularly in 2011 when there was a 16 percent increase in the number of companies featuring snack products compared with the previous year.
The 2012 Sweets & Snacks Expo, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, will be held May 8-10 at Chicago's McCormick Place. The Expo is the largest confectionery, cookie and snack show in the Americas featuring more than 540 companies showcasing three and a half acres of confectionery and snack products at one time, in one place. The Expo serves as a one-stop-shop for retailers and wholesalers looking to discover new products and trends in the industry.
"Snack products coupled with confectionery items are the fastest-growing powerhouse in the grocery store," commented Tim Quinn, EXPO Chairman and VP of Trade Development for Mars Chocolate North America. "During this challenging economy, retailers are looking to the strength and staying power of candy and snacks to stabilize sales and increase profits. In 2011 alone, these categories accounted for 9 percent of all store sales and experienced a phenomenal 11 percent increase."
Here is a listing of just a handful of snack companies and their products that will be exhibiting at the 2012 Sweets & Snacks Expo:
• Beer Nuts, Inc. - Beer Nuts Bar Mix
• Cloverhill Bakery - Danish Cinnamon Rolls
• ConAgra/National Pretzel Co. - Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn
• Diamond Foods - Kettle Brand Potato Chips
• Jack Link's Beef Jerky - Jack Link's Beef Jerky
• Kellogg Company - Nutri-Grain Bars
• KIND Healthy Snacks - KIND Fruit & Nut Bars
• Kraft Foods - Oreo, Ritz, Chips Ahoy and Nabisco
• Mrs. Fields Branded Retail - Mrs. Fields Cookies
• Oberto Brands - Oh Boy! Oberto Beef Jerky
• Old Dutch Foods - Traditional Potato Chips
• Popchips - Popchips Original
• Popcorn Indiana (formerly Dale & Thomas Popcorn)
• Snyder's-Lance, Inc -.Snyder's of Hanover
• Stauffer Biscuits - Animal Crackers
• Tillamook Country Smoker - Tillamook Country Smoker Natural Style Jerky
• UTZ Quality Foods - Zapp's Potato Chips
• Walkers Shortbread - cookies
• Wise Foods - Wise Chips
View a complete list of companies exhibiting snack products at the 2012 EXPO.
"While we are thrilled with the quick adoption of snacks by our EXPO visitors, it is important to remember that confectionery products continue to be a proven sales driver on their own garnering more than $30 billion in U.S. retail sales in 2011 alone," commented NCA President, Larry Graham. "Candy and snacks combined have the buying power of $79 billion in U.S. retail sales each year."
"Most Americans snack up to four times a day and since consumers are shopping and eating in more than dining out, it is vital that retailers offer a wide variety of items and options to customers. The Expo is the best destination for candy and snack professionals to source new and innovative products and keep ahead of the trends," added Quinn.
The 2012 Expo will feature a new, rebranded "Most Innovative New Products Awards" showcase. Product nominees in this new awards showcase are taste-tested by a panel of industry-wide experts with retailers casting the final votes live on the show floor.
Other features include:
• EXPO Mobile App -- Sponsored by The Hershey Co., this tool is available for virtually all smart phones. It is a custom-designed, native application that will function anywhere on the show floor even without wifi service. To download, search your app store for "SSE12" or "sweets expo."
• Innovation Alley -- Back by popular demand, this dedicated area on the showfloor features start-up companies new to the industry displaying some of the most innovative ideas not yet in the marketplace.
• An expanded Gourmet Marketplace -- Occupying a larger, more prominent area of the show floor, the Gourmet Marketplace has matured into a rich and creative resource at the Expo by providing access to hundreds of candy and snack companies displaying one-of-a-kind upscale products.
• The Retail Solution Center has become a popular attraction at the Expo. This center is an area for retailers to source the latest fixtures, displays and services from the top names in the industry. For the fourth year in a row, the Magic of Merchandising Display Gallery, offers ideas and award-winning solutions that worked for other retailers.
• Learning opportunities continue to play a major role at the 2012 Expo. The 2012 EXPO will offer morning sessions with well-known presenters including: NPD's leading food trends expert, Harry Balzer; political pundits James Carville & Mary Matalin; business guru Dan Heath; and former CNBC economist Marci Rossell.