The 2016 Sweets and Snacks Expo was held at McCormick Place this past week. Expanding to two halls this year to accommodate the more than 750 exhibitors showcasing their products, the show welcomed over 16,000 industry professionals from over 90 countries.
There were a number of themes that stood out this year with healthy options standing out more than anything. Whether it’s the main ingredient or a flavor contribution, brands are now using quinoa, kale, chickpeas, broccoli and beans to name a few.
Mango coated in dark chocolate and coconut found in many varieties throughout the show.Organic options, rice and vegetables crackers and seeds continue the expansion of healthy choices.
When you walk a show that is all about sweets and salty snacks, seeing booths showcasing different types of jerky whether chicken, beef or pork, is a message about consumer demand.
As brands stretch their creative minds, old favorites are re-invented with new flavor profiles or sizes like Peeps dipped in chocolate and Flipz pairing of sweet and salty caramel with their pretzels. What is mainstream in other countries is welcomed with Stroopwafel thin caramel filled wafers that are warmed over a cup of coffee or tea for a snack or breakfast. Adding pistachios to chocolate instead of the traditional almond adds color, flavor and texture differences.
The 2016 Most Innovative New Product Awards Ceremony honored Reese’s where they won “Best in Show” for its Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup filled with Reese’s Pieces.
Starburst Gummies® wins the Most Innovative New Product Award in Non-Chocolate
Ever wonder about how to choose the right wine to go with chocolate desserts? Lindt offered wine and chocolate tasting sessions which was a very popular option for attendees ready to grow their entertaining knowledge.
Overall, the Sweets and Snacks Expo was a walk through tradition in candy making with old favorites meshing with new creations incorporating organic and healthy options. Snacking, whether candy, salty treats, fruit or jerky continue to evolve to meet the demands and interests of their fans. As the trends in the food industry expand, I expect to see more innovation in the confectionary world as well. Until next year!