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Registration has opened for the 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo, slated for May 19-21 at Chicago's McCormick Place. Sponsored for the past 18 years by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), the event already boasts a sold-out show floor.
Last year's expo set an all-time record in volume of confectionery and snack products, featuring more than 650 companies and increased exhibitor participation for five consecutive years with more than 3.5 acres of product innovation. This year, show floor square footage has expanded to accommodate more new exhibitors, and more than 16,000 industry professionals are expected to attend.
"Each year, the show continues to thrive and break standing records while reaching new milestones," said Tim Quinn, expo chairman and VP of trade development for Mount Olive, N.J.-based Mars Chocolate North America. "More specifically, the Most Innovative New Product Awards program has proven its value and popularity by recognizing candy and snack makers for their imaginative ideas, concepts and products.
"We have a grand celebration in store this year, with an awards ceremony highlighted by a champagne toast happening right on the show floor at the close of the opening day," Quinn added. "In addition this year, taste panelists will assist in presenting the awards to the innovation winners. It’s one of our most esteemed programs, demonstrating double-digit growth for the past three years, and we wanted to ensure the winners and nominees receive show-wide recognition and accolades."
New this year is the Expo's Knowledge Series, which promises to help attendees "gain more insights beyond the show floor," according to Quinn. Other new features will include the Retailer Impact Forum, during which experts will provide industry perspective on the current economic climate, the health-and-wellness mega trend and the nation's shifting demographics in three short briefings, followed by a panel of channel executives, ranging from grocery to online, to offer perspective on how these market, consumer and shopper trends affect retailers and the category.
Also new is the Specialty New Product Showcase, which gives manufacturers a single place to exhibit their new organic, premium or gourmet candy and snack items.
Returning features will include the Industry Buzz Network Reception; Sweet Insights Theater, consisting of knowledge-building sessions live on the show floor; and the Specialty Market, with 88 companies providing access to hundreds of one-of-a-kind, upscale, free-from and organic-style products.
Among the scheduled speakers at the event are Larry Levin of IRI Worldwide, and Bill O’Reilly of Fox's "The O’Reilly Factor."