Value, Flavor Combos & Nutrition

New products, trends revealed at 2011 Sweets & Snacks Expo

CHICAGO -- From unique flavor blends like chili and mint to more cost conscious bites, new sweets and snacks hitting the store shelves in 2011 aim to satisfy ever-evolving consumer appetites. Smart, simple, flavor-packed, good value and nutrient-enhanced products led the more than 2,000 new confectionery and snack foods being revealed May 24-26 at the 2011 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo debuts new products from more than 550 companies leading the industry in developing new flavors for consumers to savor."Trends in confectionery and snacks [image-nocss] for 2011 reflect the larger patterns seen across the food industry--Americans are more interested in what they are eating, and are looking for new flavors to satisfy increasingly complex palates," said Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association (NCA). "Consumers look for value, exciting flavors and nutrition when seeking new sweets and snacks."

Top Consumer Snack Trends 2011:

Good Value

Candy and snacks continue to represent an affordable indulgence for consumers in a slow economy, demonstrated by industry sales growth over the past two years. Non-chocolate chewy items saw additional gains in 2010 and chocolate consumption also remained on the rise, while channel growth for the category in discounters, club and drug stores reflects consumers' focus on value.

Surprising Flavor Combinations

Candy and snacks with dual-layers and multiple flavor profiles in one bite top the tasty trends for 2011, with new combinations including unique blends of fruits and the addition of ingredients like chili and mint.

Natural& Added Nutrients

Whether simple and all-natural or fortified with vitamins and a nutrition boost, "smart" snacks and sweets are here to stay, including chocolate and products with added Vitamin C, fiber and other healthful ingredients.

Despite a lagging economy, the snacking industry posted significant gains in 2010.

The confectionery industry posted a 3.6% gain in 2010--outpacing overall growth of food sales in leading channels. Meanwhile, salty snacks experienced steady growth with a 2% gain over previous year sales. Confectionery and salty snacks rank as the fourth and sixth largest product categories in overall food sales, respectively, and first and second among snack foods. The cookie category (ranked third largest among snack foods) also held strong, experiencing half a% growth last year.

Major sales trends (based on SymphonyIRI and NCA data) that helped shape the category in 2010 include: Chocolate confectionery lead sales in 2010, growth that is expected to continue through 2011 as new product launches will remain strong and consumer interest in potential health benefits of dark chocolate grows: Multi-count and snack-sized packages to keep at home grew 8%; on the go and individual chocolate sales were up 10%. Value products such as non-chocolate chewy items continued to gain momentum: Gummy and chewy candies were up nearly 5%; licorice products continued to grow, up by nearly 3%. Seasonal candy sales increased in 2010; with even more growth expected for 2011: Non-chocolate Easter candy grew an astonishing 21%; chocolate products for Easter, Halloween and Christmas grew 5%. Click hereto view a video that provides a taste of the show.According to brand-new research from NCA expected to debut later this summer, consumers appreciate the unique role chocolate, candy, gum and other snacks play in their lives: Older Americans have a higher preference for dark chocolate; research indicates that people over 45 consume more dark chocolate because it's perceived as healthier (NPD Group for NCA). Daily gum chewers are 34% more likely to view sports activity as a major motivator in maintaining or improving their health (The Futures Group for NCA). The average American consumes chocolate confectionery about 107 times per year (NPD Group for NCA). Parents claim children who consume chocolate daily exercise nearly twice as often as children who eat chocolate weekly (The Futures Group for NCA). Gummy candy, driven by Halloween sales, is 23% more likely to be consumed in the fall than licorice or other chewy candies. Licorice consumption increases in the warmer, summer months based on its portability (NPD Group for NCA).

Industry reports on 2010 product announcements and sales (Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics online database of new U.S. products SKUs 2010):

In 2010, thousands of new confectionery and snack products debuted to meet consumer demand: 2,655 new confectionery products debuted: Chocolate: 1,480; Non-Chocolate (sugar confectionery): 1,077; Gum: 98. 3,805 new snack, cookie and cracker products debuted: Cookies: 786; Crackers: 259; Potato Chips: 526; Popcorn: 237; Nuts & Seeds: 308; Cereal Bars: 550; Other Snacks (pretzels, tortilla chips, puffed snacks, fruit snacks, meat snacks, etc.): 1,139.

The NCA fosters industry growth by advancing the interests of the confectionery industry and its customers. Serving as the voice of the industry, it advocates for the needs of the industry before government bodies, helps the industry understand and implement food safety and other regulations, provides information to help members strengthen business in today's competitive environment and creates relationships between all sectors of the industry including manufacturers, brokers, trade customers, suppliers to the industry and consumers.