Sweets & Snacks Expo Celebrates Growth

sweets & snacks expoExpo sees fourth straight year of aggressive growth in attendance, exhibitors and square footage. 

Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo hosted a sold out show at Chicago’s McCormick Place to an audience of more than 15,000 qualified industry professionals. The Expo which was held May 21–23 is billed as the confectionery & snack industry’s most successful, world class event.

 “For the fourth year in a row, the Expo demonstrated significant growth in all areas. Our ten percent increase in overall Expo registration is an accomplishment we relish,” commented NCA President Larry Graham. “In a challenging economy, it is apparent by the continued growth that our event provides vital tools, insights, innovations and resources that the industry values.”

Total registration in 2012 was 14,010, and in 2013 it totaled 15,389—a 10% increase. Total square feet sold grew from 144,000 in 2012 to 157,100 in 2013—a 9% increase. New exhibitors grew from 140 in 2012 to 164 in 2013.

This year, 12% of Expo visitors traveled from outside of the U.S. The show experienced double digit international participation with more than 90 countries attending. “NCA recognizes the power of U.S. brands around the world and we feel the 2013 Expo successfully positioned itself as a destination for world markets to come together,” said Graham. “We plan to continue expanding our global efforts and outreach for future shows by partnering with firms including Planet Retail and Euromonitor.”

In addition, more than 6,000 candy and snack trade customers registered to attend, representing key distribution channels like grocery, convenience, and mass as well as niche and specialty outlets. The Expo is the only venue that represents all of the major U.S. distribution channels of candy and snack products in one location.



“We have evolved into so much more than just a show. Attendees come to find not only new product innovations but also effective business strategies and inspiring ideas and solutions,” noted Tim Quinn, vice president trade development of Mars Chocolate North America and Expo chairman. “With the addition of the new show-wide networking reception on Wednesday afternoon, we provided another opportunity for manufacturers and customers of every size to connect with current contacts as well as forge new business partnerships. Our goal was to provide a solid business opportunity in a relaxed but fun atmosphere.”

New in 2013, was the show-stopping Shopper Solutions Theater. Visitors flocked to this first-time offering to learn about proven merchandising displays in the Gallery of Success, and then attend one of the many standing-room-only Learning Lab sessions presented by the merchandising industry’s top experts.

The day before the Expo, a panel of experts made up of retail customers, food industry icons and trend experts, met to narrow down a field of more than 200 new product entries for the Most Innovative New Product Awards. The Awards panel analyzed taste, packaging, innovation, as well as go-to-market feasibility and then selected up to five of the top items across eight categories.

Then more than 2,000 retailer ballots were cast in the Expo’s Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase during the first day of the show. The winning products were announced and awards presented during the keynote sessions the following day.

“New item submissions for the awards were up 17% from the year prior despite a flat year of new product releases according Datamonitor,” commented Quinn. “This demonstrates how manufacturers see the Sweets & Snacks Expo as a vital vehicle in promoting and sharing product innovation within the candy and snack industry.”

Highlights from 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo included: 

  • Keynote sessions featured well-known names including Duke University’s Coach K about the value of leadership and teamwork, as well as Pulitzer-prizing-winning columnist George Will’s assessment of how politics affect your business. Leon Nicholas of Kantar Retail discussed the future of the confectionery and snack industry while Dina Howell, worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X, provided inside tips on how to connect with shoppers through proven retail strategies.

  • The sold-out Gourmet Marketplace nearly doubled in size over the past three years, anchored by an enhanced ‘Taste of Gourmet’ area showcasing artisans conducting upscale pairings and demonstrations throughout the show.

  • For the third year in a row, Innovation Alley featured a handful of candy- and snack-related startup companies who ended the show with solid contacts that will jump start their foray into the industry and onto retailer’s shelves.

  • A park-like concourse adorned with trees and music featured market shops including a fashion kiosk with custom-made dresses from iconic candy wrappers and several candy- and snack-themed jewelry and accessory stores.

Chatter about the Expo’s offerings went viral in a 360-degree social media outreach program that garnered thousands of tweets, postings and picture uploads. The Expo’s Facebook likes grew by 38% while thousands downloaded the official Expo App to connect with other attendees, download exhibitor show materials and navigate the show floor. Exhibitors fully embraced the Expo’s all-new virtual media center posting and socialize more than 100 news releases, double the amount posted in 2012.

“The Expo is a proven destination that 96% of past retailers surveyed recognize as a solid business value. They have told us that it is the most efficient one-stop destination they need each year to keep on top of the trends and innovations. We promise the industry to continue to over-deliver in 2014 on the entire Expo experience that has led to a four year growth track record,” Graham concluded.

Re-live all of the excitement from the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo including photos, videos, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter posts by downloading the Expo App at www.sweetsandsnacks.com.

The 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo will be held May 20-22 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Even though the 2014 show floor has increased, it is already more than 85 percent sold out. For more information or to reserve your space, contact NCA at 202.534.1440.

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