CHICAGO --The National Confectioners Association brought its Sweets & Snacks Expo to Chicago in late May, giving retailers in all channels a look at what’s new and trending in the candy and snacks product categories.
Here’s a look at seven trends that caught CSP editors’ attention as they ate their ways across the trade-show floor …
Sweet meets heat
It was sweet meets heat all day, every day at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, which was held May 23-25 in Chicago. In what could be one of the biggest trends to come out of the show, prominent confection manufacturers came out with new product line extensions that married the sweetness they’re known for with a spicy kick. Wrigley offered sweet-heat releases such as Starburst and Skittles Sweet Heat products, while Nestle’s Nerds El Mango Fuego and Guayaba Solitaria delivered on sweet plus hot.
Trade-show attendees didn’t have to travel far to find something new in jerky. Innovation was also in abundance as brands touted new varieties of meat (salmon, boar and turkey, to name a few), flavors and packaging aimed at different kinds of consumers. Rio Rancho, N.M.-based Pearson Ranch, for example, introduced bags of elk jerky featuring its new mascot, an elk in a blazer and sunglasses, to attract millennials. And Jack Link’s is venturing into a new daypart with its A.M. line of breakfast sausage and bacon snacks.
Packaged to sell
Most snack and treat items are impulse buys, and66% of people have tried something new because the packaging caught their eye, according to David Read, vice president of marketing for Atlanta-based Printpack Inc. Some trends Read has seen include matte finishes for a natural look and feel, and clear containers/packages that communicate transparency. Packaging for Terrafina’s individual shot packs (pictured) of nuts and seeds hits on both of these packaging trends.
Legumes leading the way
Chickpea snacks made their presence felt in many forms, including puffed (Hippeas), roasted (GoBitos) and baked into a crisp with other vegetables (Saffron Road ChickBean Crisps). The brands pushed the chickpea’s high levels of protein and fiber, combined with on-trend flavors such as Thai Chili GoBitos and Sriracha Sunshine Hippeas. Also emerging is the lentil, another member of the legume family, with snacks such as Enjoy Life Plentils and Good Natured Lentil Twists.
More than a hint of lime
Lime was a prominent flavor in all kinds of products on display at the show. Sweets (Hi-Chews Sour Sticks and Old Dominion Jalapeno Lime Butter Toffee Peanuts), crunchy snacks (Natura Plantain Chips, Tipatio Limon and Picante Pop Corn), meat snacks (Primal Cilantro Lime meat sticks) and more featured the flavor, often in combination with a spicy element such as chipotle. And during a presentation on trending flavors, Jessica Jones-Dille, director of the savory and snack category for Lebanon, Ohio-based flavor producer Mane Inc., said citrus flavors including lime and orange varietals are seeing growing interest.
Those lovable yellow emoji icons have made the leap from the keypad to the candy aisle. Emoji-themed sweets and packaging were seemingly everywhere on the trade-show floor, in the form of treats from Emojeez fruit gummies to Chocomoticons wrapped chocolates. Jelly Belly even got in on the trend with its Mixed Emotions jelly beans.
Snacking for a cause
Brands with a social mission were evident on the Sweets & Snacks Expo show floor. My Super Foods, maker of organic snacks and foods for kids, is on a mission to help end child hunger. The company will donate one meal for every social-media post by consumers who purchase a My Super Foods product, pack it in a lunch, take a picture and post it to social media with the tag @mysuperfoods or #packalunch. Another brand, Live Love Pop, highlights a different charity on every flavor of its “guilt-free” popcorn. It also donates to the charities as part of its Selfless Snacking Campaign.