Innovation and Creativity Highlighted at 2012 Sweets and Snacks Expo

At the SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO held in Chicago, Ill., the National Confectioners Association awarded 40 Most Innovative New Product nominations to companies showcasing the most innovative ideas, concepts and products in two of the fastest growing categories in the marketplace – confectionery and snacks. Retail and wholesale trade customers then selected one winner in each of eight categories that help make up the $80 billion sweets and snacks industry in the United States.

A panel of experts made up of retail customers, food industry icons and trend experts, helped NCA narrow down the field of entrants. Nearly 200 products were submitted for consideration. The panel analyzed packaging, concepts and salability of each entry and had the opportunity to taste the products in their effort to select the top 40 items among eight categories. On the first day of the SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO, retail and wholesale trade customers had the final vote to select the best in each category.

Announced at a keynote session during the EXPO, the nominees and winners in each category are as follows:

Chocolate winner

Hammond’s Candies – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Milk Chocolate Bar

Nominees:
The Hershey Company – HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds PIECES
The Hershey Company – ROLO Minis
Wild Ophelia – Wild Ophelia Beef Jerky Bar
Wild Ophelia – Wild Ophelia Peanut Butter and Banana Bar

Non-chocolate winner
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Skittles Riddles

Nominees:
Haribo of America, Inc. – Haribo Ginger-Lemon Gummi Candy
Just Born, Inc. – HOT TAMALES 3 ALARM
The Hershey Company – ICE BREAKERS DUO Mints – Strawberry
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Orbit Spotlight Series Melon Remix

Sweet snacks winner
Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. – Nutella & Go!

Nominees:
Lowell International Foods – SesaKiss
The Promotion in Motion Companies, Inc – Juicefuls Fruit Wave
Setton International Foods, Inc. – Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites
Sheila G Brands LLC – Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle

Salty snacks winner
Mars Chocolate North America – M&M’S Brand Snack Mix

Nominees:
Gourmet Basics –Smart Fries Popped Potato Sticks Garlic & Rosemary
Plocky’s Fine Snacks – Plocky’s Greek Lemon Herb Hummus Chips
Flamous Brands – Falafel Chips
Jack Links – Big Dippers

Savory snacks winner
Nopal Bros. – Nopal Bros. Sweet & Spicy Dried Cactus Snack

Nominees:
Cornfields, Inc. – Hi I’m Skinny Sticks Sweet Onion
Cornfields, Inc. – Hi I’m Skinny Sticks Tangy Barbeque
Gracious Gifts – FixMix Chocolate Caramel Pretzels
Holy Cow, LLC – Lord Nut Levington El Cheddarales Peanuts

Novelty & licensed winner
Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly UNO Game Box

Nominees:
Amerilab Technologies, Inc. – Fizzies Drink Tablets, Grape
Impact Confections – WARHEADS Sour Dippers
Jel Sert Company – Fla-Vor Ice Fudge Pops (Made with HERSHEYS’s Chocolate)
Magic Straws, LLC – got milk? Cotton Candy Magic Milk Flavoring Straw

Seasonal winner
Mars Chocolate North America – M&M’S Brand Candy Corn White Chocolate Candies

Nominees:
Brown & Haley – Dark Chocolate Peppermint ROCA
Just Born, Inc. – 3 ct. Milk Chocolate Dipped Caramel Flavored PEEPS Chicks
Just Born, Inc. – 4 ct. Package PEEPS Chicks Rainbow POP (assorted colors of red, green and white)
Praim Group – Choxcard

Gourmet & premium winner
Brown & Haley – Dark ROCA

Nominees:
Cornelia Confections – Pecan Chipotle Brittle
Holy Cow, LLC – Lord Nut Levington Rebel Mary Peanuts
Nature’s Habit – Nature’s Habit Trail Mix Cranberries, Cherries, Raisins, Almonds & Pecans
Too Haute Cowgirls Popcorn Confections – Have Bacon Will Travel

“The Awards nomination really did drive traffic to our booth,” commented Margie Walter about Haribo’s nominated Lemon-Ginger Gummi Candy. “Attendees were coming up saying, ‘I want to try that new product.’ It was really valuable for us.” Meanwhile, Brown & Haley’s new Dark Roca won top honors in the gourmet category. Brown & Haley CEO Pierson Clair said of the nomination, “Being recognized by our peers speaks volumes about our commitment to quality and our desire to delight consumers throughout the world.”

NCA President Larry Graham noted that that in any given year about 30 percent of all confectionery sales are attributed to products launched in the previous 24 months. “Innovation is an essential part of the confectionery and snacks industry,” said Graham. “Last year there were nearly 4,800 new candy and snack items launched in the U.S., many of them making their debut at the SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO.”

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