Global confectionery companies work in cooperation with the Partnership for a Healthier America.
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) at its annual Sweets & Snacks Expo May 23 – 25 in Chicago, introduced a ground-breaking new initiative to provide consumers with information, options and support as they enjoy their favorite treats.
The initiative, a commitment to transparency, portion guidance and consumer education that was announced earlier this month in cooperation with the Partnership for a Healthier America, was the focus at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo at Chicago’s McCormick Place. With more than four acres of chocolate, candy, gum, mints, and snacks on display, it was clear that innovation is a priority for the industry.
“The commitment recently announced by five leading global confectionery companies to create more options in innovative packaging and products, and to educate consumers about how chocolate and candy can play a unique role in a happy, balanced lifestyle, is the first step on our journey to help consumers manage their sugar intake and make informed choices,” said NCA President & CEO John Downs, Jr. “As host to more than 800 exhibiting companies and 17,000 industry professionals, the Expo is the perfect event to highlight the importance of the initiative.”
The companies involved in the initiative include Mars Chocolate, Wrigley, Nestlé USA, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Russell Stover and Ferrara Candy Co., though Downs pointed out that other companies on the trade show floor are supportive of the direction in which this initiative takes the industry.
“Each year, the Expo is a launching pad for thousands of product and packaging innovations, flavor creations and solutions designed to meet shifting consumer needs,” Downs said. “We’ve always created transparent, fun, and great-tasting treats – and now we’re redoubling our efforts to provide consumers with more options, and to provide people with more tools that will empower them to make informed choices when it comes to the enjoyment of chocolate and candy.”
Sweets & Snacks Expo attendees represent 90% of the buying power in the candy category and 75% of the buying power in the snack category in the U.S. Since 2015, the Expo has experienced a 30% growth in exhibit space, a testament to the strength of an industry whose products are deeply rooted in cultural celebrations and holidays around the world. Whether representing large multi-national brands or small regional favorites, the exhibitors at the Expo make a wide variety of options – available in packages ranging from fun size to share size – that can bring a smile to any occasion.
Based on news and product launches around the Expo, industry experts expect the following trends to rise in prominence during the year ahead:
Changing the World
America’s leading chocolate and candy companies are providing consumers with information, options, and support as they continue to manage their sugar intake. Other companies have partnerships promoting wildlife conservation, fresh water resources and other local or global initiatives. Today’s confectioners are dedicated to making the world a better place to live – and to enjoy occasional treats.
Heat Meets Sweet
From honey Sriracha to mango chipotle, confectionery and snack manufacturers are turning to sweet to balance out hot, spicy or tangy flavors.
Hand-painted chocolates, coffee and liquor fillings, artisanal flavors, high-quality ingredients and sophisticated packaging are the hallmarks of this year’s delicately crafted confections and snacks.
Hard candy shells covering chewy centers or crispy centers surrounding smooth exteriors, many of this year’s hottest chocolate, candy and snacks deliver a satisfying crunch.
Packaging and Product Innovation
Confectioners are demonstrating innovation in packaging and product design including items that are re-sealable or available in smaller pack sizes, and products that promote portion guidance.
The National Confectioners Association also released the following information about the confectionery industry ahead of the Sweets & Snacks Expo:
Most people in the U.S. enjoy chocolate and candy 2-3 times per week, averaging about 40 calories per day and about one teaspoon of added sugar per day from confectionery items.
The confectionery industry has a direct economic impact of $35 billion and provides 55,000 jobs in more than 1,000 manufacturing facilities across the country. An additional 410,000 American jobs are supported by the confectionery industry.
Today, about 60% of individually wrapped chocolate and candy products contain 250 calories or less. America’s leading chocolate and candy companies have recently made a commitment that by 2022 half of individually wrapped chocolate and candy products will contain 200 calories or less per pack.
This is the 20th anniversary of the Sweets & Snacks Expo, which has been held in Chicago since its inception.