Decadence and Differentiation (Slideshow)

Craft brands permeate Sweets & Snacks Expo, while legacy players innovate

Published in Convenience Store Products

Abbie Westra, Deputy Group Editor, CSP

Tic Tac

Tic Tac's booth was busy with showgoers customizing their own packs of the bite-size mint.

CHICAGO -- The footprint of high-end, craft and natural confection at the annual Sweets & Snacks Expo continues to grow, reflecting the ongoing consumer desire for affordable luxuries. Meanwhile, legacy candy brands had their R&D teams working at full throttle to deliver a wide array of new extensions on perennial favorites in time for the show. All these trends and their reflective products will appear on convenience-store shelves in the year to come. 

Among the flavor trends identified by show host National Confectioners Association (NCA) were:

  • Deliciously decadent. Truffle oil, imported salts and browned butter add taste and texture to a wide variety of decadent candy and snacks introduced at the expo this year. Indulgent categories have been on the rise for a few years, fueled in large part by the innovation snack makers have applied to new product launches. Look for more all-natural products in store aisles, as well.
  • Have your cake and chocolate, too. From whoopie pie to banana creme pie, this year candy and snack makers found inspiration from dinner's sweet, final course. For those who prefer to drink their desserts, attendees found a variety ranging from beer-themed chocolate and chewy candies to cherry cola, macchiato and crème de menthe flavored treats.
  • Coconut is experiencing resurgence in popularity with entries into NCA's Most Innovative New Product Awards in the sweet, salty, savory, chocolate and gourmet categories.
  • Caramels are also making a comeback in big way—both on their own and as an inclusion in other products. Look to Hershey’s Lancaster brand and newcomer Lovely Candy Co. as examples.

Meanwhile, legacy brands continued to focus on shareable, resealable varieties of consumer favorites, as well as resuscitating the gum category while riding the growth wave of mints.

What follows is a slideshow of what some of the big confection players had on display at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo, as well as a few trendy up-and-comers.

candy, chocolate candy
Abbie Westra, CSP Business Media/Winsight By Abbie Westra, Deputy Group Editor, CSP
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