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CHICAGO -- The National Confectioners Association's (NCA) largest-ever Sweets & Snacks Expo came to a close today after hosting an estimated 14,000 industry professionals over the last three days. Nearly 600 exhibitors displayed new products and campaigns in the 143,000-square-foot expo hall.
New product trends seen on the show floor included an increasing number of better-for-you and gluten-free bars and snacks; new flavor combination pairings presented in two-in-one or shareable packs; and an extension of seasonal items for the convenience store channel.
Creativity in packaging was also evident in a range of sizes. Ferrero USA introduced a Tic Tac "Big Pack" that emulates the oval shape of the breath mints, while both Kraft Foods and Wrigley showed off smaller, lower-priced packs of Trident gum and Orbit gum, respectively. Kraft also previewed ID gum, a teen-focused product with magnetic strips in its box that keep it securely closed when carried in a bag or purse.
In his keynote address on Wednesday, NPD Group Vice President Harry Balzer said several snacking fads – one being hummus -- that have attracted attention in recent years aren't nearly as wide-sweeping as they have been perceived to be, according to NPD’s proprietary research. Such fads make it even more important for retailers to carefully examine trends before making a commitment.
Also as part of Wednesday’s keynote sessions, Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, presented the winners of the Most Innovative New Product Awards, which expo attendees chose by scanning their favorites in the expo’s New Product Showcase. This year's winners were:
- Novelty/Licensed: Jelly Belly Uno Gift Box; Jelly Belly Candy Co.
- Seasonal: M&M's Candy Corn; Mars Chocolate North America
- Salty Snacks: M&M's Snack Mix & Peanuts; Mars Chocolate North America
- Sweet Snacks: Nutella & Go; Ferrero U.S.A. Inc.
- Savory Snacks: Sweet & Spicy Nopalitos Dried Snacks; Nopal Bros.
- Non-Chocolate: Skittles Riddles; Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
- Gourmet/Premium: Dark Roca; Brown & Haley
- Chocolate: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Milk Chocolate Bar; Hammond's Candies
Today, the final day of the show, wrapped up with the annual Confectionery Industry Awards Presentation and Breakfast. This year's honorees were Betsy Harris of Harold W. Young Inc. and Steve Meisinger from Adams & Brooks Inc. Following the awards, James Carville and Mary Matalin took the stage to present "All's Fair: Love, War & Politics," a behind-the-scenes look at Washington, D.C., politics and the effect of today's headlines on the rest of the country.