Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo hosted a sold out show at Chicago’s McCormick Place, Chicago, Ill., to an audience of more than 15,000 qualified industry professionals. The expo which was held May 21 to 23 was billed as the confectionery and snack industry’s most successful, world class event.
“For the fourth year in a row, the Expo demonstrated significant growth in all areas. Our ten percent increase in overall Expo registration is an accomplishment we relish,” commented NCA President Larry Graham, in a prepared statement. “In a challenging economy, it is apparent by the continued growth that our event provides vital tools, insights, innovations and resources that the industry values.” Total registration for the expo increased 10 percent, total square feet sold increased 9 percent and new exhibitors increased 17 percent over 2012.
This year, 12 percent of expo visitors traveled from outside of the U.S. The show experienced double digit international participation with more than 90 countries attending. “NCA recognizes the power of U.S. brands around the world and we feel the 2013 Expo successfully positioned itself as a destination for world markets to come together,” said Graham. “We plan to continue expanding our global efforts and outreach for future shows by partnering with firms including Planet Retail and Euromonitor.”
In addition, more than 6,000 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.
“We have evolved into so much more than just a show. Attendees come to find not only new product innovations but also effective business strategies and inspiring ideas and solutions,” noted Tim Quinn, vice president trade development of Mars Chocolate North America and Expo chairman. “With the addition of the new show-wide networking reception on Wednesday afternoon, we provided another opportunity for manufacturers and customers of every size to connect with current contacts as well as forge new business partnerships. Our goal was to provide a solid business opportunity in a relaxed but fun atmosphere.”
New in 2013, was the show-stopping Shopper Solutions Theater. Visitors flocked to this first-time offering to learn about proven merchandising displays in the gallery of success, and then attend one of the many standing-room-only learning lab sessions presented by the merchandising industry's top experts.
The day before the expo, a panel of experts made up of retail customers, food industry icons and trend experts, met to narrow down a field of more than 200 new product entries for the most innovative new product awards. The awards panel analyzed taste, packaging, innovation, as well as go-to-market feasibility and then selected up to five of the top items across eight categories.
Then more than 2,000 retailer ballots were cast in the Expo’s Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase during the first day of the show. The winning products were announced and awards presented during the keynote sessions the following day.
“New item submissions for the awards were up 17 percent from the year prior despite a flat year of new product releases according Datamonitor,” commented Quinn. “This demonstrates how manufacturers see the Sweets & Snacks Expo as a vital vehicle in promoting and sharing product innovation within the candy and snack industry.”
Highlights from 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo included:
- Keynote sessions featured well-known names including Duke University’s Coach K about the value of leadership and teamwork, as well as Pulitzer-prizing-winning columnist George Will’s assessment of how politics affect your business. Leon Nicholas of Kantar Retail discussed the future of the confectionery and snack industry while Dina Howell, worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X, provided inside tips on how to connect with shoppers through proven retail strategies.
- The sold-out gourmet marketplace nearly doubled in size over the past 3 years, anchored by an enhanced ‘taste of gourmet’ area showcasing artisans conducting upscale pairings and demonstrations throughout the show.
- For the third year in a row, innovation alley featured a handful of candy- and snack-related startup companies who ended the show with solid contacts that will jump start their foray into the industry and onto retailer’s shelves.
- A park-like concourse adorned with trees and music featured market shops including a fashion kiosk with custom-made dresses from iconic candy wrappers and several candy- and snack-themed jewelry and accessory stores.
“The expo is a proven destination that 96 percent of past retailers surveyed recognize as a solid business value. They have told us that it is the most efficient one-stop destination they need each year to keep on top of the trends and innovations. We promise the industry to continue to over-deliver in 2014 on the entire expo experience that has led to a four year growth track record,” Graham concluded.