Registration is open for the 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo, to be held May 19-21 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), the expo is anticipated to be the most successful in the event’s 18-year history, with an already sold-out show floor, including an extensive exhibitor wait list.
The 2014 expo set an all-time record in volume of confectionery and snack products with more than 650 companies and increased exhibitor participation for five straight years with more than 3.5 acres of product innovation. In 2015, the show floor square footage has expanded to accommodate more new exhibitors with plans to welcome more than 16,000 industry professionals.
“Each year, the show continues to thrive and break standing records while reaching new milestones,” said Tim Quinn, expo chairman and VP of trade development for Mars Chocolate North America. “More specifically, the Most Innovative New Product Awards program has proven its value and popularity by recognizing candy and snack makers for their imaginative ideas, concepts and products. We have a grand celebration in store this year with an awards ceremony highlighted by a champagne toast happening right on the show floor at the close of the opening day. In addition this year, taste panelists will assist in presenting the awards to the innovation winners. It’s one of our most esteemed programs, demonstrating double-digit growth for the past three years and we wanted to ensure the winners and nominees receive show-wide recognition and accolades.”
Added John H. Downs Jr., president and CEO of NCA, “The global market is growing at a fast rate in a $428 billion candy and snack industry worldwide, and it is essential that the expo provides access to more product categories from more international companies. Last year the show experienced double-digit growth in international participation, making the expo a one-stop shop for candy and snack buyers from around the world.”
Nearly 100 international companies from more than 20 countries are expected to exhibit at this year’s expo.
“We asked, listened and delivered,” said Quinn of the expo’s retooled education offerings. “After extensive surveys and personal outreach this past year, we discovered that our attendees needed to gain more insights beyond the show floor, which is why we are offering the expo’s ‘Knowledge Series’ for the first time.”
The series will kick off on the first day with an industry address featuring Downs and follow with insights on sweets and snacks from IRI Wordwide EVP and Practice Leader Larry Levin.
On the second day, the newly-created Retailer Impact Forum will reveal how to get ahead of the biggest drivers of change in “bite-size” portions. Leading experts will provide industry perspective on the current economic climate, the health and wellness mega trend and the nation’s changing demographics in three short, high-impact briefings. Following speakers, a panel of channel executives, ranging from grocery to online, will provide perspective on how these market, consumer and shopper trends impact the retailing business and the candy category. The panel will be moderated by retail expert Michael Sansolo.
On the final day, the host of Fox’s “The O’ Reilly Factor,” Bill O’ Reilly, will offer expo attendees an unfiltered perspective on current events and global issues.
The 2015 Sweet Insights Theater, located live on the show floor, will offer even more knowledge-building sessions. Attendees can learn from industry experts about how to exceed shoppers’ expectations and build confectionery and snack sales during 20-minute learning labs featuring case-study success stories and proven recommendations. This lineup will include sessions on the new and evolving role of the in-store dietitian and how they are meeting needs of today’s information-seeking shoppers as well as research findings from the latest chocolate consumer study. The labs also will include sessions exploring digital and social media and value shopping as the “new normal.” Additionally, NCA will debut the new S5 series uncovering consumer-driven principles for leveraging seasonal occasions.
The popular Specialty Market sold out in early January, and will feature 88 companies providing access to hundreds of one-of-a-kind, upscale, free-from and organic style products. The market’s growth and sales success continue to accelerate since recent consumer statistics show that nearly 40 percent of shoppers will pay more for premium, specialty or all-natural products.
New in 2015 will be the expo’s Specialty New Product Showcase located within the New Product Showcase, offering manufacturers a distinct location to exhibit their new organic, premium or gourmet candy and snack items in one place.