The most exciting event at The National Confectioners Association’s 2018 Sweets and Snacks Expo was a robbery. Approximately $18,000 of candy was stolen on the final day of the convention, held at McCormick Place in Chicago. As of this printing, the crime is unsolved. 

Heist and thievery aside, the 2018 Sweets and Snacks Expo delivered a roster of new product introductions and provided marketers with insight into consumer snacking trends. An increase in consumer consumption of small snacks rather than larger meals continues to gain traction in the marketplace.  

The 2018 Sweets and Snacks Expo featured approximately 17,000 confectionery and snack products from 90 countries. 

The National Confectioners Association recognized specific product innovations with its annual Most Innovative New Product Awards. The winners were selected from more than 300 new product award entries across nine candy and snack categories. This year’s Best in Show award went to Hostess Brands, LLC for Double Chocolate Cake Delights. The premium adult snacks are inspired by fresh, hand-crafted bakery treats.

Other notable winners included Hershey’s Gold Standard Bar, named the most innovative product in the chocolate category; Nestle USA/Ferrara Candy Company’s Big Chewy Nerds; Justin’s Organic White Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups in the sweet snacks category; and Sahale Snacks Tangerine Vanilla Cashew-Macadamia Glazed Mix in the salty snacks category.

Our show experience uncovered a handful of other products that stood out in terms of innovation, packaging or flavor trends. Among them is Shrewd Food’s Protein Crisps. The product takes aim at healthy snacking by couching 14g of protein in crisp, salty snacks. The line is comprised of five varieties included Baked Cheddar, Brickoven Pizza, Sriracha Cheddar, Smokehouse Maple and Cookies & Cream (obviously, not salty). 

Chickpeas and vegetables take center stage in a new line of snacks called Off the Eaten Path from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division. The snacks contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The introduction adds another page to the ever-growing volume of alternative snacks capitalizing on health components.

On the sweet side of things, the 2018 Sweets and Snacks Expo featured a mountain of candy introductions that touch on current marketplace trends. One worth noting is Butterfinger Dark and Nestlé Crunch Dark. These two legacy brands have watched dark chocolate trends ascend in the past decade or so, and have finally taken the plunge into new territory. Updates to such established brands points to a willingness in the industry to experiment and take risks that may have seemed too steep just a few years ago. This signals a confidence in the snack and confections categories, and the promise of continued positive growth in the years ahead.  

Invert The Pyramid!
Come for Information, Inspiration, Innovation

Prepared Foods’ 36th Annual New Products Conference
Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2018

Make plans to attend and learn more about…

… Developing New Products for E-Commerce: Keynote Speaker Manu Sareen, Managing Partner, Marketplace Explained; and former Director of Private Brands, Amazon 

… New Models of Fast-Paced Ideation, Innovation: Keynote Speaker Rizal
Hamdallah, head of Tyson Foods’ Futurist Innovation Lab

… Plant-Based Foods: Stephanie Lind, Senior Vice President, Global Sales,
Impossible Foods

… Emerging Nutrition Trend / Gut Health: Dr. Rachel Cheatham, Foodscape Group; and Angelo De Blasio, Marketing Manager, Freedom Foods Group North America

… Leveraging A.I. and Machine Learning for New Product Development

… Linking Consumer Insights + Corporate Strategy: Jim Splinter, Group Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Hormel Foods Corp.

… Weaving Menu Trends into R&D: Michael Gunn, Culinary Director; and Giselle Restrepo, Senior Manager, Strategic Insights & Trends, The Schwan Food Company

Gen Z Consumers: Live Consumer Panel moderated by Maeve Webster, President, Menu Matters

… How Consumers View “Authentic” Ingredients, Packaging: Linda Gilbert, Founder, EcoFocus

Visit regularly for updates on the 2018 program.