Even a pandemic can’t stop the Expo from setting up shop. Last year, it was one of only a few trade shows to take place in North America, albeit in much-reduced circumstances and in a different city (Indianapolis).
With 2022 marking the Sweets & Snacks Expo’s 25th anniversary, it came back to its spiritual home in Chicago after a two-year break (the show was cancelled in 2020) and boasted almost 700 exhibitors, with more than 110 exhibitors in the Supplier Showcase section – and generating a cool $21m in revenue for the city’s coffers.
The Expo’s producers, the National Confectioners Association (NCA), said this year the event attracted just under 16,000 attendees and covered 4.5 acres of candy and snack innovation at Chicago’s McCormick Centre.
Almost hitting pre-pandemic figures so soon is an impressive recovery for a sector that the NCA said generated $36.9bn in retail sales in 2021 and is projected to reach $44.9bn in sales by 2026.
The confectionery industry in the US employs nearly 58,000 workers in more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities across all 50 states - and the Expo is its showcase event, also attracting exhibitors from overseas.
With National Candy Month running throughout June, last month’s Expo highlighted many of the seasonal trends with S'mores-flavoured treats – and everything you need to make them – taking over this summer and throughout the year. Everything that could be s’morified was, said NCA spokesperson Lauren O’Toole Boland, from candy bars and chocolate bunnies to popcorn and Rice Krispies treats to cookies.
S’mores are a US campfire delicacy and one of the variations that ConfectioneryNews has previewed in the past is Stuffed Puffs, which was receiving plenty of interest at the Expo with their unique brand of marshmallows stuffed with solid chocolate designed not to melt - even over a campfire
Other Expo trends we picked up on this year included:
- Flavor Intensity: Salty, sweet or turn up the heat? There's something for everyone looking for a more intense flavour in their favourite treat. Look out for flavour extremes: amp up that sour flavour, introduce some heat into your sweet or pick the spiciest chip.
- Newstalgia: This year, it's all about 'newstalgia' – fresh and innovative twists on the classics you know and love. It's treating like you've never experienced before.
- All About Options: Everyone treats and snacks a little differently, which is why confectionery and snack companies are offering a range of package sizes and product types to meet every occasion.
Watch the video to get a taste of this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo!
A short history of the Sweets & Snacks Expo
Originally known as the 'All Candy Expo', the first show was held in 1997 at Chicago’s Navy Pier and featured 210 manufacturing exhibitors.
In 2001, the All Candy Expo moved to the Lakeside Building of Chicago‘s McCormick Place to accommodate a growing demand for exhibit space by the world’s leading confectionery manufacturers. Later, the show moved to West Hall and eventually expanded into the Skyline Ballroom, as well.
In 2007, the All Candy Expo began using the tagline 'It’s All About Sweets & Snacks,' foreshadowing the future of the show, and welcomed its first snack exhibitors. In 2010, the event name was officially changed to the Sweets & Snacks Expo.