NCA Names ‘Most Innovative New Products’ Award Winners

June 24, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – During the 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo, held in Chicago, Ill., the National Confectioners Association bestowed 45 Most Innovative New Product Award nominations to companies showcasing imaginative ideas, concepts and products in two of the fastest growing categories in the marketplace: confectionery and snacks. Retail and wholesale trade customers then electronically selected one winner in each of the nine categories that comprise the $90 billion U.S. sweets and snacks industry.

“The Expo’s new product awards program showcases the best our industry has to offer in terms of creativity and innovation,” said NCA President & CEO John H. Downs, Jr. “From large, multi-national brands to small, family-owned companies, innovation is the heart of our business and it’s on display each year at the Sweets & Snacks Expo.”

Led by Supermarket Guru and food marketing authority Phil Lempert, a panel of specialists including a registered supermarket dietician, top U.S. retailers, and trend experts collaborated and taste-tested nearly 300 product submissions. Panel participants included Maribel Alchin, dietician and healthy living advisor from the supermarket chain Meijer, and Larry Levin, executive vice president of IRI, as well as executives from some of the top retailers of candy and snack products in the U.S. including:

  • CVS Health
  • Dollar General
  • Eby-Brown Company
  • First Source
  • H-E-B
  • Hy-Vee
  • Hudson News
  • Ke-HE Distributors
  • The McLane Company
  • Meijer, Inc.
  • RaceTrac
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

The panel analyzed nine candy and snack segments ranging from chocolate and non-chocolate to savory and salty snacks to the newest category, gum and mints. Panelists rated product submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility then discussed the top performers in each segment to narrow the selections to five items in each of the nine segments.

“The panelists overwhelmingly agreed that the submissions this year were some of the most competitive and innovative they have ever seen since the program began four years ago,” said Lempert. “The competition was fierce and every nominated product deserves to be recognized as a potential best seller this coming year.”

On the first day of the Expo, hundreds of retail and wholesale trade customers voted for their top picks in each category in the Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase. A Best in Show selection is also named from the list of final nominees. This year, the Best in Show award was presented to TIC TAC Minions, a new limited edition product from Fererro USA launched in conjunction with the Minions movie expected to be released later this summer.

“In 2014 candy and snacks were responsible for 10 percent of total supermarket sales and 15 percent of the overall growth,” commented Downs. “Increasingly, retailers look to our Most Innovative New Product Award nominees and winners, and the trends represented among the selections, in order to determine will perform well in the coming year.”

Chocolate winner: Albanese Confectionery – Albanese World's Best Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanuts
The Hershey Company - HERSHEY'S Caramels
Marich Confectionery Co. - Marich Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn
MARS Chocolate North America - SNICKERS Brand Mixed Nuts
Chuao Chocolatier - Strawberry Waffle Wild

Non-chocolate winner: Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Pancakes & Maple Syrup Grab & Go Bag
Perfetti Van Melle USA - Airheads Soft Filled Bites
Haribo of America, Inc. - Haribo Twin Snakes
Ferrara Candy Co. - Now and Later Splits Lemonade Blends
Ferrara Candy Co. - Trolli Extreme Sour Bites Fruitz Peg Bag

Sweet snacks winner: The Hershey Company – HERSHEY'S Snack Mix
Alli & Rose, LLC - Alli & Rose Tropical Fields Crispy Mixed Fruit Chips
The Hershey Company - BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bar
Hammonds Candy / Old Dominion Peanut Co - Jalapeno Lime Brittle Crisp
Lady Walton's Cookie Company - Lady Walton's Milk Chocolate with Toasted Coconut

Salty snacks winner: Diamond Foods – Kettle Brand Potato Chips Thick & Bold Dill Pickle
General Mills - Chex Mix Popped Sweet & Salty
Jack Link's Beef Jerky - Jack Link's Small Batch Hickory Bacon Jerky
Kellogg's Company - Pringles with Dip Jalapeno Cheddar
Twang Partners, LTD - Twangerz Snack Topping - Mango Chili Salty Sweet

Savory snacks winner: Edward Marc Brands – Edward Marc Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Snappers
County Archer - Country Archer Sriracha Beef Jerky
Carl Budding Company / Old Wisconsin - Fast Fuel Honey Brown Sugar Turkey Sausage Snack Bites
General Mills - Food Should Taste Good Real Good Bar - Hazelnut & Sea Salt
Oberto Brands - Smokey Sweet BBQ Style Chicken Strips

Novelty/licensed winner:
Jelly Belly Candy Company – BeanBoozled Mystery Bean Dispenser
Bazooka Candy Brands - Juicy Drop Gummies
Flix Candy - Lolli Pop Ups - Avengers, Frozen
PEZ Candy Inc - PEZ Collectibles - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Ford Gum & Machine Co - Smarties Squeeze Candy

Seasonal winner: Brown & HaleyROCA THINS Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark
Palmer Candy Company - Bakery Delight Pumpkin Pie Pretzels
Ferrara Candy Company - Brach's Dark Chocolate Peppermint Almonds
Ferrara Candy Company - Brach's Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn
Burton's Biscuits Company - Cadbury Creme Egg Cookies

Gourmet/premium winner: SuperSeeds - SuperSeedz Maple Sugar & Sea Salt
Charms Company - Boutique Premium Lollipops
BumbleBerry Farms LLC - BumbleBerry Farms Sticky Buns Cinnamon Honey Cream
Diamond K Sweets - P'Nutti Better Fudge O'Bits

Gum & Mints Winner: Project 7 – Project 7 Grapefruit Melon
Dr. John's - Dr. John's Sweet Advantage Tangy Melon Mints
Perfetti Van Melle USA - Mentos NOW Mints Peppermint
Ferrero USA - TIC TAC MINIONS (also awarded Best in Show)
Mondelez International - Trident Layers Swedish Fish

“NCA’s Most Innovative New Product Awards really do showcase the best the industry has to offer,” said Lempert. “There’s no other place you’re going to see products as diverse side by side. On the one hand you have Sticky Buns Cinnamon Cream, a deliciously, sweet smooth confectionery spread, and on the other hand you have the tart and tangy dill pickle-flavored potato chips from Kettle Brand.”  

The 2016 Most Innovative New Product Awards will be presented at next year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo to be held in Chicago, May 24 – 26, 2016. For more information, visit