New product launches reveal that candy and snack manufacturers are looking beyond the category for flavor inspiration this year. Breakfast staples like maple, waffles, and bacon are highlighted and will be hitting stores shelves soon, as are classic flavors inspired by childhood memories like s'mores, birthday cake and lemonade.
Thousands of new confectionery and snack items will be introduced to the world at the 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago from May 19-21. Nearly four acres of chocolate, candy, cookies and savory snacks exhibits will feature the hottest new products from 630 companies and showcase innovation on every aisle.
The National Confectioners Association hosts the annual trade event to connect retail and wholesale candy and snack customers with the industry's manufacturers. "In whatever its form or flavor, candy is affordable, honest, authentic and transparent," said NCA President & CEO, John H. Downs, Jr. "About 123 million U.S. households purchase chocolate, non-chocolate candy, gum or mints each year. Whether you're enjoying a taste of your favorite brand of chocolate or celebrating Halloween by passing out sweets, the presence of candy in our lives is always a fun treat."
The Sweets & Snacks Expos is where the latest and greatest varieties make their debut and come out to play. A sneak peak for what's in store for candy and snacks in the year ahead is below.
Top Candy and Snack Trends 2015*
Bringing Breakfast Back
Breakfast will soon no longer be just for the morning if new product launches at the Sweets & Snacks Expo are any indication. Maple and maple syrup-flavored candies and snacks are just the tip of the iceberg. The flavors and foods usually consumed before 8 a.m. are inspiring candies and snacks across the board – from yogurt snacks to waffles and from peaches and cream to bacon.
In addition to breakfast and traditional dessert favorites infiltrating the sweets and snacks industry, classic childhood flavors are also making a comeback and finding their way onto store shelves in the form of new candies and snacks. Fountain soda, pies, s'mores, birthday cake, lemonade and more will all be delivering memories of the past and packing big flavor in this year's new product innovations.
A Focus on Fruits
Fruits are in the lime-light at this year's Expo. In addition to mainstays like orange, apple and cherry, candy and snack manufacturers are introducing new products including more sophisticated fruit varieties and flavor profiles like Meyer lemon, blood orange and golden delicious apples to name a few. Pumpkin and pineapple jalapeno also turn heads as newcomers to the snack world, while fruits like wine grapes and baobob are making their debut appearances. The use of real fruit in candy and snack products is also on the rise.
* Trends derived from products submitted for NCA's Most Innovative New Product Awards and displayed in the New Product Showcase.
"A review of new product launches and current industry trends points to other classic flavors like marshmallow, cinnamon and peppermint making resurgences this year," predicted candy trends expert and NCA's Vice President of Public Relations, Susan Whiteside. "DIY has also crept into the category with products to make, dip, spread or decorate yourself. We also expect to see innovation in the form of technology, like automation that allows you to customize your own confections on demand, sustainable packaging and even 3-D printing."
Candy's Role in a Happy Lifestyle and the Economy
Confectionery is a small part of the diet, at just around 2 percent of the average American's caloric intake, but it plays an important role as a fun treat. "Most people in the U.S. enjoy candy about twice a week, averaging less than 50 calories per day from confectionery items," said Downs. "However candy is enjoyed across every age, demographic group, and lifestyle, meaning that it has a high household purchase rate and produces about $35 billion in retail sales annually in the U.S." Downs added that candy is made in every U.S. state and directly employs more than 70,000 workers.
According to Information Resources, Inc., both U.S. confectionery (1.9%) and snack (2.7%) sales increased slightly in 2014. On a global basis, the product categories represented at the Sweets & Snacks Expo account for up $500 billion annually, according to Euromonitor International.
The 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo is May 19-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. As a trade show, the goal of the event is to connect confectionery and snack buyers, merchandisers and retail executives with the companies that make and market the majority of products in the U.S. market, as well as those that are popular around the world. More than 16,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the Expo, now in its 18th year in Chicago.