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During the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, retailers helped narrow down the National Confectioners Association's list of 40 Most Innovative New Product nominations, by choosing one winner in eight categories that included both confectionery and snacks.
Panel participants who selected the top 40 products included The NPD Group Trends expert Harry Balzer; Saatchi & Saatchi X’s Worldwide CEO Dina Howell; the Food Network’s "Iron Chef" winner and restaurateur chef Homaro Cantu; as well as executives from top retailers, including Dollar General, Meijer, Sam's Club, Safeway, Walgreens and Walmart.
The panel analyzed eight candy and snack segments ranging from chocolate and nonchocolate to savory and salty snacks. Panelists then rated product submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility, and nominated up to five of the top items across the eight segments.
On the first day of the Expo, more than 1,000 retail and wholesale trade customers voted for their top picks in each category in the Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase.
“About 30 percent of annual confectionery and snack sales are attributed to products introduced in the last two years, so these launches are critical to industry success,” noted NCA president Larry Graham.
Announced at a keynote session during the Expo, the nominees and winners in each category are as follows:
Chocolate winner: The Hershey Company – Kit Kat Minis
Chuao Chocolatier – Pop corn Pop
Cosijns Chocolatier – Sushi Dessert Garden Party
Mars, Inc. – M&M’s Chocolate Bar
Pure Chocolate – Exclusive Truffles Collection
Non-chocolate winner: Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa – Coffee Thins
Ferrara Candy Co. – Trolli Evil Twins
Jel Sert – Mott’s Freezer Bars
Just Born, Inc. – Hot Tamales Tropical Heat
Project 7 – Save the Earth Mints
Sweet snacks winner: Sprinkle It On – Handmade Marshmallow & Rice Cereal Confectionery
479 – Toasted Coconut Caramel
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Minis
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Lifesaver Berry Bites Gummies
Salty snacks winner: Sahale Snacks – Pomegranate Pistachios
Gourmet Basics – Original Sweet Maui Rings
Herr Foods, Inc. – Baked Multigrain Crisps – Tuscan Garden Medley
That’s How We Roll – Party’tizer Dippin Chips
The Daily Crave – The Daily Crave Veggie Chips
Savory snacks winner: Fire Corn Popcorn/Pop Gourmet – B.A.’s Fire Corn, Real Jalapeno Popcorn
Big League Snacks – Big League Jerky – Sweet & Spicy flavor
Fire Corn Popcorn/Pop Gourmet – POP! Gourmet Popcorn, Rogue Blue Popcorn
Pizza is 4 Suckers – Pizza is 4 Suckers – Hard Candy
Sahale Snacks – Maple Pecans
Novelty/licensed winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Tabasco Jelly Bean bottles
Bazooka Candy Brands – Ring Pop Gummies
Jel Sert Company – Baskin Robbins Sherbet Freezer Bars
Swiss Colony Retail Brands – Blueberry and Pomegranate Jelly Belly Cake Bites
Swiss Colony Retail Brands – Very Cherry Jelly Belly Cake Bites
Seasonal winner: Russell Stover Candies, Inc. – Russell Stover S’mores BIG BITE Bar
Charms Company – Charms Candy Corn Pops
Just Born, Inc. – Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow PEEPS
Just Born, Inc. – PEEPS Chick in Chocolate Egg
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Candy Corn
Gourmet/premium winner: Hammond’s Candies – Hammond’s Milk Chocolate Red Velvet Cake Bar
Bare Fruit – Bare Fruit Natural Chili Lime Apple Chips
Golden Island Jerky – Korean BBQ Pork Jerky
Hammond’s Candies – Hammond’s Peanut Butter Cup Gift Box
Two Haute Cowgirls Popcorn Confections – Haute Buttered Rum Brittle
The 2014 Most Innovative New Product Awards will be presented at next year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo to be held in Chicago, May 20 – 22, 2014. More information is available online.