CHICAGO — T he National Confectioners Association (NCA) recognized the year's most innovative confectionery and snack products at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago this month. The Most Innovative New Product Awards were determined by a panel of more than 31 industry experts who sampled more than 300 snacks and candies. Four weighted criteria were used to assess each item including taste, packaging, innovation and go-to market feasibility.
With 11 categories plus the Best in Show and the Small Business Innovator awards, the program identified groundbreaking food concepts from the more than 2,000 new products launched at the Expo. The winning products feature intense flavor combinations, multi-sensory experiences and cleaner ingredients.
Check out the 13 winners and the innovations they introduced to the industry …
Best in Show: Tru Fru Natures Strawberries Hyper-Chilled Fresh and Immersed in Ruby Cacao
Outside of the category winners, the Best in Show honor was awarded to Tru Fru for receiving the best overall score.
The frozen berries are covered in Ruby cacao, and they come in a 5-ounce container and are 60-calories per serving, with a suggested retail price of $4.99.
Small Business Innovator: Plant Bacon’s Carolina Smoke Carrot Bacon
The non-GMO, plant-based jerky is made from carrot slices marinated in sauce and then dehydrated. The 1-ounce product is shelf-stable, vegan and has a suggested retail price of $6.99.
Plant Bacon was chosen from the submitted companies with $500,000 in sales or less.
Gormet/Premium Candy: Tru Fru Natures Strawberries Hyper-Dried Fresh in Creme
Nature’s Strawberries are hyper-dried to preserve taste and nutrition and are immersed in white chocolate and cream. They are lightly dusted in a natural strawberry powder to enhance the flavor.
The 4.2-ounce bag has a suggested retail price of $4.89.
Gormet/Premium Snack: Ferraro USA Inc. Nutella B-Ready Crispy Wafer Filled with Nutella
Nutella B-Ready is an individually-wrapped snack bar that features a baked wafer filled with hazelnut Nutella spread.
The snack from Ferraro is 4.6 ounces and has a suggested retail price of $3.99.
Gum and Mints: Mars Wrigley Extra Refreshers Fruit Mix Sugar-Free Chewing Gum
Combining 3 fan-favorite flavors—strawberry freeze, tropical mist and lemonade chill—Extra Refreshers Fruity Mix features a soft gum chew coated in a thin shell that provides a multi-sensorial chewing experience and long-lasting flavor.
The 3.21-ounce container has a suggested retail price of $2.46.
Non-Chocolate: Ferrara Nerds Gummy Clusters Very Berry
Nerds Gummy Clusters include a fruity, gummy center covered in crunchy, sour mini-rainbow Nerds. This is the second flavor of the product that Ferrara has rolled out, following the original pack.
It comes in an 8-ounce stand-up bag with a suggested retail price of $3.15.
The product’s crunch, then chewy nature plus its sour then sweet flavor follows the multi-sensory trend that was a primary theme at the Expo.
Seasonal: Ferraro Kinder Holiday Mix Countdown Calendar
The Kinder Holiday Mix Countdown Calendar has 24 interactive punch slots. It has a variety of six Kinder treats and graphics that feature a gingerbread house with a puzzle on the back.
The 7.1-ounce confection calendar has a suggested retail price of $12.99.