The 2012 Sweets & Snacks Expo®, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, hosted a global audience of close to 15,000 qualified industry professionals from 70 countries at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The expo is billed as the largest confectionery, cookie and snack event in the Americas.
“Without a doubt, the 2012 expo was our most successful show yet for both exhibitors and attendees,” said NCA President Larry Graham in a prepared statement. “For the third year straight, we posted significant growth in both the show size and number of companies. We delivered more than 570 exhibiting companies and 140 new exhibitors to the 2012 expo – that’s a 15 percent increase from the 2010 show.”
Occupying more than 142,000 net square feet, and featuring more than three acres of candy and snack products this was the largest show with the most exhibitors in the expo’s 16-year history.
In addition, nearly 5,500 candy and snack trade customers registered to attend representing key distribution channels like grocery, convenience, and mass as well as niche and specialty outlets. The expo is the only venue that represents all of the major U.S. distribution channels of candy and snack products in one location.
The show delivered global sales and marketing executives from leading manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers and distributors and their customers who came to strengthen current relationships as well as forge new business partnerships. More international customers and distributors supporting U.S. global export initiatives attended than ever before.
“Record-breaking growth is just one aspect of our success,” noted Tim Quinn, vice president trade development of Mars Chocolate North America and expo chairman. “Our event covers so much more than the show floor. The expo provides many other useful vehicles and opportunities to connect face-to-face with other industry professionals and learn about the latest innovations.”
New for 2012, the Most Innovative New Product Awards recognized the most innovative ideas, concepts and products in the sweets and snacks marketplace.
A panel of experts made up of retail customers, food industry icons and trend experts, met the day before the show opened to narrow down a field of nearly 200 product entries. The panel analyzed packaging, concepts, salability and taste to then select the top 40 items across eight categories. On the first day of the expo, trade customers had an opportunity to vote for their favorite in each category.
Returning for its second year, the sold-out Innovation Alley featured 10 candy and snack-related startup companies. Some ended the show with orders from the country’s leading retailers and two took away panel taste-test nominations for outstanding product innovation.
“The cookie and snack categories, added to the expo four years ago, continued to flourish with nearly 40 percent of exhibitors featuring snack-related products,” commented Rick LaRue, vice president international sales at Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc. and expo vice chairman. “Candy and snacks offer more new products each year than any other retail category and the expo gives you the tools and resources to simplify your search for the next best seller.”
Highlights from 2012 SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO included:
- Insightful, trend-based and politically-smart keynote sessions featured well-known names including Dan Heath, author of popular business book, Switch; Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group and food trends expert; Marci Rossell, former CNBC chief economist; and the political dynamo team of James Carville and Mary Matalin.
- The sold-out Gourmet Marketplace was anchored by an enhanced ‘Taste of Gourmet’ area showcasing artisans conducting upscale pairings and demonstrations throughout the show including Hello Cupcake, American Heritage Chocolate and NCA’s The Story of Chocolate.
- A vibrant concourse featuring market shops including a dynamic walk-thru store front merchandising gallery; one-of-a-kind dresses handmade from iconic candy wrappers; and a replica designed entirely of jelly beans of Chicago’s popular downtown sculpture known as “The Bean”.