Sweet sixteen

The Sweets & Snacks Expo celebrated a key milestone with record-setting attendance.

This year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, set the (candy) bar pretty high. Held at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center in May, the show—appropriately celebrating its “sweet sixteen” anniversary—attracted a record-setting 568 exhibitors and drew more than 15,000 attendees.

As those attendees traversed the show’s 24 aisles they witnessed—and sampled—the latest in candy, salty snacks, nuts, jerky and other treats. Over at the Hershey booth, among the new items show goers sampled were Rolo Minis, a new version of the popular chocolate-enrobed caramel treat, now available in miniaturized bite-size pieces. “Rolo Minis are not wrapped in foil and are available in an 8-ounce gusseted bag and a 2.5-ounce single-serve pouch,” said Anna Lingeris, manager, global brand public relations and consumer engagement at The Hershey Co., based in Hershey, Pa.

The Mars Chocolate North America booth was set up to cover the four seasons. “Among the trends we are trying to capture is leveraging Dove for gifting and molded shapes,” Timothy LeBel, vice president of sales, said as he pointed to a heart-shaped metal tin of Dove chocolates that will be in stores for Valentine’s Day 2013. For the back-to-school through Halloween period, look for Milky-Way Caramel Apple candy to be a “must-have” hit.

According to LeBel, another big trend retailers should be watching out for are large club-style bags. “Moms are shopping piece-count now and they are not scared away from a $14.99 to $19.99 price-point,” he said. “Some of our fastest growing areas are in the large stand-up pouch bags, giving them the variety of the brands they know and recognize. Those bags are becoming our most popular sellers, whereas traditionally we played in the bonus bags.”

Retailers should also keep an eye out for the new Bakery Delights peg line that was being showcased by Sioux City, Iowa-based Palmer Candy Co. Available in Munchy Medley, Caramel Swirl Pretzels, Peanut Butter Swirl Pretzels and Yummy Chow varieties, the line can be merchandised from pegs, clip strips, power wings and shippers. It is also available in bulk. “Yummy Chow is a blend of toasted corn squares that has peanut butter and chocolate and is then dusted with powdered sugar,” said Martin Palmer, president. “It is light and easy to eat and once people try it they go crazy for it. The entire Bakery Delights line has gotten a lot of traction and people are loving it.”

Attendees got to quench their sweet tooth and their thirst in one bite at the Sorbee International booth where the company’s latest product—Country Time Lemonade Fruit Chews—were among the items being featured. “We are relaunching a smaller peg bag that is also sold in a shipper,” said Daniel J. Werther, CEO of the Trevose, Pa.-based company. “It has been getting great reviews.”

Also on display at Sorbee’s booth was its Crystal Light line of sugar-free hard candies and sugar-free fruit chews. “In a typical sugar-free candy set you will see hard candy and chocolate,” Werther said. “Nobody every did a sugar-free fruit chew. Last year we won a product innovation award for that. It is the only one on the market and it is a wonderful product with a lot of fiber.”

Totally different gum
At the show Chris Tamillo, vice president, sales and marketing, confectionery, for Dayton, Ohio-based Revolymer, was busy explaining what sets Rev7 Gum apart from the competition. “Our product is totally different from everything that is out there and it starts down at the gum base,” he said. “We offer long-lasting flavor that can last up to two hours. Our gum is the only gum that gets soft by moisture vs. temperature so our gum stays consistently soft in your mouth for hours.”

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