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CHICAGO -- Even the sweetest tooth can be satisfied thanks to the more than 2,000 new confectionery and snack foods debuting at the 2011 Sweet & Snacks Expo. The hottest new products are being introduced by 550 companies today through Thursday at the Windy City's McCormick Place.
"Trends in confectionery and snacks for 2011 reflect the larger patterns seen across the food industry -- Americans are more interested in what they are eating, and are looking for new flavors to satisfy increasingly complex palates," said Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association (NCA), which hosts the annual trade show. "Consumers look for value, exciting flavors and nutrition when seeking new sweets and snacks."
Although the economy has remained sluggish, the confectionery industry logged a 3.6-percent sales gain in 2010, compared to the prior year. Salty snacks posted a 2-percent gain last year. The cookie category eked out a 0.5-percent gain.
According to the NCA, one sweet and snack trend to look for during the remainder of 2011 is new combinations, such as unique fruit blends or the addition of ingredients like chili and mint.
Snacks containing vitamins and other purported healthy ingredients also are expected to continue their ascent. Several new all-natural products are being launched at the show, including products fortified with vitamin C and fiber.
Sweets and snacks will continue to be promoted as an affordable indulgence during a time period when the economy is still struggling to gain its footing, the NCA said.