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Four years ago, the All Candy Expo officially rebranded itself as the Sweets & Snacks Expo and welcomed snack companies to exhibit. In that time, snack companies’ participation at the Chicago-based expo has grown, most substantially from 2010 to 2011, when there was a 16 percent increase in the number of exhibiting companies featuring snack products.
Nearly 40 percent of exhibitors will feature snacks at this year’s show, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA) and scheduled for May 8-10 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
“Snack products coupled with confectionery items are the fastest-growing powerhouse in the grocery store,” said 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.”
The following are among the snack companies and products expected 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
Kellogg Co.: 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
“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,” noted NCA President Larry Graham. “Candy and snacks combined have the buying power of $79 billion in U.S. retail sales each year.”
Quinn added: “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 largest confectionery, cookie and snack show in the Americas, featuring more than 540 companies showcasing 3½ acres of confectionery and snack products in one place.
Among the features at the 2012 Expo:
- The rebranded “Most Innovative New Product Awards” showcase: Product nominees are taste-tested by a panel of industry-wide experts, with retailers casting the final votes live on the show floor.
- Expo Mobile App: Sponsored by The Hershey Co., this custom-designed tool is available for virtually all smartphones.
- Innovation Alley: Back by popular demand, this dedicated area on the show floor features start-up companies new to the industry displaying some of the most innovative ideas not yet in the marketplace.
- An expanded Gourmet Marketplace, providing access to hundreds of candy and snack companies displaying one-of-a-kind upscale products.
- The Retail Solution 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 will offer ideas and award-winning solutions that worked for other retailers.
- Well-known presenters including Harry Balzer; political pundits James Carville and Mary Matalin; business guru Dan Heath; and former CNBC economist Marci Rossell.
“Offering much more than just the show floor, the expo provides a myriad of other useful vehicles to help attendees discover innovation, gain insights, learn about effective merchandising vehicles, and connect face-to-face with other industry professionals,” Quinn said. “We offer a complete suite of business tools that no other show can rival and word has gotten out; the 2011 expo grew to its largest size both in square footage and exhibitors in its 15-year history. We promise the newest, coolest, latest and greatest items and trends including nearly 150 new candy and snack exhibitors in 2012."