Sweets & Snacks Expo 2023

Adios Chicago: Sweets & Snacks Expo 2023 set to leave its home on a high note

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sweets & Snacks Expo Chicago Chocolate Candy Confectionery Nca

Chicago in May, without the Sweets & Snacks Expo rolling into town, is going to feel different and it will also be a blow to the city’s coffers, as it is estimated the huge trade fair historically pulls in at least $21 million when it sets up shop at McCormick Place. We take an early look at this year’s upcoming highlights as the Expo prepares to go out with a bang in Chicago with over 800 exhibitors (250 of them at Sweets & Snacks for the first time) covering 210,000 square feet of sweet, salty and sour products.

All things must pass and after quarter of a century in the candy capital of America, the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis looks forward to welcoming the National Confectioners Association’s marquee event in 2024. 

The interest in our show has grown so much that we have a waitlist for additional exhibitors. We have also seen a substantial increase in international exhibitors and attendees and plan to welcome more than 5,000 retail registrants. The value that the Sweets & Snacks Expo brings to confectionery and snack companies is incredibly important and it contributes to the success of these two vibrant categories​,” NCA President and CEO John Downs said in an interview with smartbrief.com.

A new feature this year will be 5X5 - a new show to highlight product innovation in the confectionery and snack categories for a select few first-time exhibitors.

Five confectionery companies and five snack companies will pitch their new products to a panel of retailers – and do so in five minutes or less. Attendees will be able to gain valuable feedback and tips from snack buyers and category managers​,” said Lauren Boland, spokesperson for the NCA.

Educational break-out sessions are always an important part of the Sweets & Snacks Expo and this year organisers have expanded opportunities to include sessions focused on the supplier community, covering sustainability issues within the confectionery industry.

Kathy Risch, SVP Consumer Insights and Trends for Acosta Group will be speaking at the Expo on Tuesday about the impact shopping behaviour has on candy and snack sales.

Economic uncertainty, self-checkout lanes, omnichannel shopping and natural and organic trends are impacting the way consumers are purchasing and consuming snacks and candy, according to a recent survey from Acosta Group.

Despite these facts, shoppers view snacks and candy as accessible luxuries in their daily lives, the survey revealed.

"We wanted to learn more about the shopper path to purchase by understanding when and why shoppers are snacking, as well as where and what they're buying on different occasions or shopping trips​," Risch told ConfectioneryNews.

"We discovered consumer shopping preferences and generational differences that inform how brands and retailers can best meet the needs of today's consumers​." 

Candy takes centre stage with new products

With a full roster of exhibitors at year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo, competition to attract new business will be fierce, but here are some of the candy companies hoping to see a steady stream of visitors to their booths.

Welch’s Zero Sugar


Hitting up the sugar-free market with a new product is PIM Brands’ Welch’s Zero Sugar Fruity Bites, claiming 25% fewer calories than the original Welch’s Fruit Snacks but ‘all the great taste’.

The launch comes as both consumer preference for sugar-free snacks, and the sugar-free snack market are increasing. According to a Comprehensive Research Report by Marketing Research Future (MRFR), the global market for sugar-free treats is projected to increase by 6.9%, reaching almost $7 billion by 2030.

We’re excited to expand our product offerings with Welch’s Zero Sugar Fruity Bites​,” said Nicole Luisi, Senior Brand Manager, Welch’s Fruit Snacks. “With this new innovation, fans of our iconic fruit snacks with specific dietary preferences or restrictions can again enjoy that same delicious taste and texture they have grown to love, giving them a deliciously fruity snack without any compromise​.”


Haribo Berry Clouds


Haribo are no stranger to the Expo and America's #1 gummi brand has announced that its latest treat, Berry Clouds, will be on display this year.

The new innovation won Product of the Year in the non-chocolate candy category as part of the 2023 Product of the Year USA Awards. Berry Clouds are playful, triple-layered gummies with a soft and sweet chew that children and grown-ups love, and their award was determined through a national study of 40,000 American shoppers in partnership with Kantar, a global leader in consumer research.

"We're thrilled that consumers voted Berry Clouds as Product of the Year in the candy category. We prioritize innovation because we know our consumers are looking for new and exciting treats, and our whimsical Berry Clouds deliver on both​," said Terry Do, Senior Associate Brand Manager at Haribo of America.


Nassau Clever Candy


Nassau Candy is also set to unveil Clever Candy Single-Color Bulk Gumballs & Bestie Bears Gummies at Sweets & Snacks Expo 2023.

A leading manufacturer of specialty and private label confections, Nassau Candy introduces the new kids on the bulk colour block designed with bulk displays, candy charcuterie boards and candy buffets in mind, the bulk gumball and gummy Bestie Bear lines are full of bold flavours and vivid colours.

Single-colour and colour blocked displays have grown in popularity everywhere from retail outlets to events, — even gender reveals, however, not a lot of manufacturers are creating large single-colour bulk confection collections​,” said Andrew Reitman, Executive Vice President, National Brand Confections for Nassau Candy. “Our new exclusive 850 Count Single-Color Gumballs and Individual Color Bestie Bears fill this hole while also improving on best-selling, iconic confections. Each item is great on its own, but when paired together will create a grand statement anywhere they’re presented​.”


Spangler Bit-O-Honey

spangler bit of honey

Spangler Candy Company will be in Chicago with a total brand relaunch of the classic Bit-O-Honey chew.

Spangler recently acquired Bit-O-Honey, seeing potential in the underappreciated treat for a renaissance on modern candy shelves.  Spangler’s research revealed that Bit-O-Honey’s natural ingredients of real honey and roasted almond bits appeal to a typically untapped audience for candy: adults looking for a lighter treat to keep them going.

Spangler’s rebrand, executed with the help of Indianapolis agency Young & Laramore, positions Bit-O-Honey as a subtly sweet little fix to help you get through the most mundane parts of every day, from wall-to-wall meetings to the endless school pickup line.

When we had the chance to take on Bit-O-Honey, we saw a lot of potentia​l,” said Kirk Vashaw, CEO of Spangler Candy. “We’ve always loved the brand’s unique flavour profile, and now we’ve improved the consistency of the candy’s smooth texture to help bring out those honey and almond flavours. We’re excited to introduce a whole new audience to Bit-O-Honey.”

The new packaging paints Bit-O-Honey in a vivid colour palette and adds visual emphasis to the candy’s natural ingredients, with roasted almonds drowning in a smooth honey drizzle

Yowie double surprise

yowie sweets and snacks 23

Yowie, the surprise-inside chocolate, is also living up to its name by revealing not one, but two exciting new products at the 2023 Sweets & Snacks Expo.

Yowie Group will reveal GIANT YOWIE, a half-pound extra-large version of its signature ‘Smart Treat.’ The new seasonal offering is now available for the trade to order for Christmas 2023 and Easter 2024. Yowie is also unveiling a novelty category with a never-seen-before offering:  a delicious, naturally flavoured, and coloured 3D lollipop in the shape of the loveable Yowie characters.  Plus, tangy sour powder for dipping.

The classic Yowie has such a loyal following and we know these new variations will be incredibly exciting to our fans, old and new​,” said Yowie CEO Mark Schuessler. “We have been working on these new products for quite some time to make sure they are Yowie-spectacular!  We can’t wait to officially welcome them to the Yowie family at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.”

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