The National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo got underway on June 23, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Ind., with an estimated 8,000 representatives from candy makers, retailers and related businesses gathering in-person after last year’s show was canceled due to COVID-19.
During a media call the morning of the three-day show’s kickoff, NCA Senior Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications Christopher Gindlesperger ran down a list of trends he’s observed at this year’s show. Tropical fruit flavors, especially combined with coconut and pineapple, have made their way into chewy, gummy and even chocolate confections.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Gindlesperger said spicy influences have crept into candy. There seems, he said, to be an attitude of “Can you handle the heat?” Flavors like chili lime, habanero and any number of other pepper-based flavors are in attendance.
Candy makers are also innovating with mixing and matching, combining different flavors as well as known candy brands – in essence making the old new again when teamed with other familiar brand names. Gindlesperger cited the Kit Kat Mocha and Reese’s Pieces Brownie Brittle combos at the show.
Smaller packaging is also a new trend showing up at the expo – and in stores. The personal snack that lends itself to impulse purchase at the register and easy grab-and-go are making a strong push at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo.
To kick off the 2021 Sweets & Snacks Expo, judges of the coveted Most Innovative New Product Awards unveiled this year’s winners. These highly competitive awards recognize the most innovative candy and snack products and companies for their achievements and new products introduced to the market over the past two years.
“The Most Innovative New Product Awards continue to highlight the innovation that pushes our industry forward, and we celebrate the creativity that makes the confectionery and snack categories shine,” said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “For many consumers, candy and snacks played a central role over the past 18 months in making ordinary moments a little more special, and these new products will make getting back to the things that we love to do this summer even more fun.”
The submitted products were judged by retail and category thought leaders from leading retailers like Costco, Walgreen’s and 7-Eleven. The awards attracted more than 300 entries and recognized 55 products in 11 categories as well as Best In Show and Small Business Innovator, which recognize the judges’ favorite product and an up-and-coming innovative company, respectively.
The winners of the Most Innovative New Products Awards are as follows:
- Chocolate: The Hershey Company – Reese’s Big Cup with Pretzels
- Non-Chocolate: Mederer U.S.A., Inc. – efrutti Bakery Shoppe Bag
- Gum & Mints: Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc. – Mentos Gum Paperboard Bottle
- Salty Snacks: Wonderful Pistachios – Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Sea Salt & Vinegar
- Sweet Snacks: TruFru LLC – Nature’s Strawberries Hyper-Chilled Frozen Fresh in White Chocolate & Milk Chocolate
- Meat Snacks: Pure Jerky Co – Tripi’s Sweet Spicy Original
- Savory Snacks: Indiana Import LLC – Torti Max
- Novelty/Licensed – Candy & Snacks: Pez Candy, Inc. – Harry Potter Back Pack Clips with Mystery Flavor PEZ Candy
- Seasonal – Candy & Snacks: Ferrara Candy Company – Nerds Candy Corn
- Gourmet/Premium – Candy: TruFru LLC – Nature’s Pineapple Pina Colada Hyper-Chilled Fresh and Immersed in White Chocolate and Coconut
- Gourmet/Premium – Snacks: Crack Corn – The Original Ultra-Premium Puff Corn
- Small Business Innovator: BranchOut – Banana Bites
- Best in Show: Ferrara Candy Company – Nerds Gummy Clusters
The Sweets & Snacks Expo runs through Friday, June 25. The trade show is the premier event for the confectionery and snack industries. Featuring new product launches, business-building solutions and merchandising innovations, the annual trade show brings together qualified candy and snack retail professionals and company representatives who showcase the latest in candy and snack products.