Conference Beat™ – Sweets & Snacks Expo: Chicago, May 2017

The Sweets and Snacks Expo draws more than17,000 attendees and 760 exhibitors from around the world; buyers represent supermarkets, mass merchandisers and specialty retailers, who delight in the snacks and confections at almost every booth. The expo continues to grow, with over 200 first time exhibitors at this year’s show. It’s a captivating place to spot emerging trends in the sweet and savory snacks market.


Business Dynamics

The total snack market accounts for $55 billion in retail sales, with 2.8% growth since last year. American consumers eat chocolate and candy about 2-3 times a week, averaging about one teaspoon of added sugar a day.


Consumer Insight

A Culinary Visions Panel study shows that 92% of millennials (ages 19-36) consider an item’s portability when making the decision to purchase a snack.


Sweet Treats

Breakfast All Day is being served up in confections like pancake and maple syrup jelly beans, cinnamon churro marshmallows, and coffee you can munch on, such as coffee-rubbed almonds, espresso bean inclusions in fruit bites, and trail mix with ground coffee.


Dippers include a new refrigerated cheesecake dip made for other snacks like cookies, pretzels and fresh fruit.


Beverage Flavors are lending themselves to confections, with gummy candies in flavors like sparkling wine, draft beer and soda flavors.


Hybrid Snacks

Grains run the Gamut from popcorn in flavors like cookies & cream, birthday cake and frosted sugar cookie to a new candy cup plus granola bar product which used the nutritive value of almond butter to create a health halo for this anytime snack.


Protein Snacks were packaged for portability and sports nutrition, while new jerky flavors included flame-grilled Bourbon BBQ, sweet BBQ pork, Seoul BBQ, maple BBQ, brew master’s pale ale, ancho pepper, and jalapeño.


Better for You innovations included carrot and green bean pickles in portable pouches, dried mushroom chips in flavors like chorizo jalapeño, and puffed vegetable crisps like roasted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and sugar snap peas with low sodium and high fiber claims.


Trending Developments

Claim Your Stake: savory snack launches, especially those with protein and fiber claims, have doubled since 2012.

Grab and Go: enjoying snacks in the car has steadily increased over the last four years.

It’s All in a Name: product names will tell consumers when or even what moment to enjoy them. Examples include energy, post-workout, or a coffee break.

Calorie Conscious: America’s top candy companies have committed to providing consumers with more information and snacking options by 2022, half of individually wrapped products will be 200 calories or less and 90% will have calorie count on the front of the pack.


Implications for Food Marketers

Mindful Snacking: Consumers today use a holistic approach; healthy eating is less about avoidance and more about what goes into a product.

No Missed Connections: Savory and BFY snacking peaks around midday. Around 8pm, after dinner, is when consumers reach for sweets. Connecting throughout the day as their mindset changes is key.

Transparency Matters: Don’t rely on claims and ingredients to differentiate; claims are merely the point of entry and consumers need honest, open communication and substance behind the marketing.


Taste Talk Tweet

Twitter chatter included:

  • Basketball star James Harden was on site, along with his infamous beard, promoting a limited edition “weird beard” shaped sour gummy.
  • Wisdom from education sessions provided the adage “there are no bad foods; only bad habits.”
  • The most Innovative Product award from a small business was a probiotic coconut chip.

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