A Snacking Evolution (Slideshow)
New flavors, new forms dominate the Sweets & Snacks Expo
CHICAGO -- Just a few years ago, snacks—salty and sweet—were a major minority at the National Confectioners Association’s annual trade show. But in the years since the NCA officially changed the name of the show to the Sweets and Snacks Expo, chips, seeds, bars, beef jerky, pickles and many other savory treats have gained a strong foothold.
Walking the trade-show floor this past week, two clear snack trends jumped out to this six-year veteran of the show:
- Grains-a-Plenty. There were several styles of potato chips and popcorn on the show floor, but the real news was the variety of other kinds of “chips”: falafel, “veggie,” cassava, yuca, apple, coconut, kale, quinoa, lentil, parsnips, seaweed, chia, sweet potato … . The list goes on, underscoring consumers’ desires for something new, something different and something healthier.
- How Do You Spell Hot? In 2013, I declared sriracha the flavor of the trade show. The spicy Thai sauce retained a strong presence at this year’s show, but manufacturers seemed to be on the search for “what’s next,” trotting out a variety of hot flavors: jalapeno, buffalo-style, wasabi, chili lime, chili cheese, to name just a few.
With literally hundreds of new products to see at the Sweets and Snacks Expo, it’s impossible to show you them all, but here are several that caught my eye and illustrate the trends mentioned above.