Representatives of Symrise NA recently attended the National Confectioners Association’s annual Sweets & Snacks Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago, with an eye towards identifying the most important trends in the category. While much of the emphasis was on products that have been trending for a few years, some exciting new trends were also experienced during the event. 

The eight most significant trends were identified as: Color in Chocolate, Flavor Duality, Mix It Up, Texture, Organic, Healthier Meets Functional, Coconut Madness, and Balls & Bites of Protein/Energy.

These trends were demonstrated in a variety of interesting new products. The use of color in chocolate came to life in a unique chocolate bar made with ruby red cocoa beans; organic has found its way into lollipops and sour candies; and a jerky snack made from coconut was shown in three flavors.  

Among the most interesting trends seen was the mixing of flavors – both complementary and contrary – within the same food product. Examples included chocolate bars that feature caramel and fiery heat and stuffed snacks that combine honey with sriracha. In bag, box and bar form, the trend of mixing was widely seen across products in just about every sweet and snack category. 

The packaging of these new hybrid sweets and snacks reflects the duality of flavors across the board, positioning the mix as the selling point of the product to attract adventurous eaters looking to mix up their snacking habits with something a little out of the ordinary. This positioning also encourages retailers to reconsider their shelf presentation and think outside standard “sweet,” “salty,” “spicy,” and “savory” groupings to create displays incorporating all of the above to appeal to this growing demographic of shoppers who are interested in more than one core flavor in their snack foods.

“What we’re seeing now is the idea of mixing flavors that would have been considered polar opposites kept far apart from each other in candy and snack aisles years ago,” said Ian Thurston, Senior Category Manager Sweet at Symrise. “Now, brands are using the different taste sensations of these ‘opposites’ to create new flavor stories for consumers, especially for Millennial and Gen Z consumers who are as interested in the experience of what they’re eating as how it tastes.”

The Sweets & Snacks Expo is the largest North American trade show for the candy and snack industry with more than 18,000 industry professionals in attendance. In addition to scheduled educational, networking, and award events, the show floor featured a new product showcase celebrating the most innovative new products of 2018, which put on display many of the emerging trends brands are incorporating into their products this year.

For more information on the emerging trends seen at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, an in-depth presentation created by Symrise is available upon request. Please contact your Symrise Account Executive to obtain a copy and learn more about the next big trends for the candy and snacks industries.