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CHICAGO — The 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo, taking place May 24-26 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, is officially sold out and anticipated to be the most successful expo in the event’s 19-year history.
Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo will set an all-time record for volume of confectionery and snack products on display, with more than 700 companies showcasing nearly four acres of product innovation, the association reported. And more than 16,000 industry professionals from nearly 90 countries are expected to attend.
In fact, the show floor has extended into a second hall — the new Skyline Hall — to accommodate the growing exhibitor base. Located across the concourse on the same level as the current West Hall, Skyline Hall will feature the latest emerging industry trends, including the expanded “Innovation Avenue.”
The new hall will also contain a second knowledge center, specializing in tracks on snacking, specialty trends, and the newest consumer and shopping trends. The Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase and ceremony will be located in the new hall as well, where visitors can view the top 45 new items deemed to become best-sellers by the expo’s expert Taste Panel.
"Each year, the show continues to evolve and shatter existing records. Candy, cookies, and snacks are a $438-billion industry worldwide and the expo has become the proven destination for category professionals to gain the best access to the products, people and insights needed to grow their business,” said Barry Rosenbaum, Sweets & Snacks Expo chairman and president of Nassau Candy Distributors Inc.
Here is a sampling of what else the 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo has in store for showgoers:
Bolstered Educational Sessions
Snack experts from IRI Worldwide, Geometry Global and The Integer Group will deliver presentations on the current state of snacking and what trends are shaping the future. These snack-focused sessions will take place at the trade show’s new Discovery Theater, located in the new Skyline Hall.
Show Floor Educational Theaters
For the first time, the expo will feature two educational theaters directly on the show floor. The Sweet Insights Theater will again be located inside the West Hall, while the Discovery Theater will debut in the new Skyline Hall with educational tracks specializing in snacking and specialty trends.
The full education schedule is available here.
Most Innovative New Product Awards
Now in its fifth year, the Most Innovative New Product Awards program provides exhibiting companies the opportunity to showcase new products to show attendees. The awards highlight the most innovative ideas, concepts and products, along with serving as an evaluation tool for new products hitting store shelves.
The judging panel consists of more than 90 percent of the buying market, representing a wide range of industry executives across all leading channels impacting the confectionery and snack industries. All companies that submit an entry receive direct feedback from the Taste Panel judges following the expo.
In total, there are nine award categories with five nominees per category selected as finalists. The categories are: chocolate, non-chocolate; gum and mints; novelty/licensed (candy and snacks); gourmet/premium (candy and snacks); seasonal (candy and snacks); salty snacks; sweet snacks; and savory snacks. Of the 45 finalists, the highest-rated product will be announced as “Best in Show.”
Expanded Global Footprint
This year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo will feature its largest number of international exhibitors to date, with more than 100 companies from across the globe. Products from more than 25 different countries will be on display, including at seven international pavilions. Two new international pavilions — Brazil and the United Kingdom — join returning China, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Turkey.
According to Rosenbaum, 15 percent of the attendee register comes from outside the United States and is growing. By expanding into the new Skyline Hall, the expo can accommodate the growth in international attendance.
Honoring Outstanding Contributions
Chosen for their knowledge, wisdom, expertise and commitment, the 2016 recipients of the Confectionery Leadership Awards are Julie Bierman, senior buyer for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), and Jennifer Dilts, senior buyer for Dollar General. The awards program, created in 2011, recognizes and honors the confectionery industry’s best and most innovative category champions and leaders.
The program allows NCA manufacturers and brokers to recognize outstanding retailers and wholesalers in the confectionery community for their effective customer marketing, shopper-driven shelving practices, and promotion of new items, the association said.