CHICAGO -- During the recent 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) bestowed 45 Most Innovative New Product Award nominations on companies showcasing imaginative ideas, concepts and products in confectionery and snacks.
Retail and wholesale trade customers electronically selected one winner in each of the nine categories.
Lead by Supermarket Guru and food marketing authority Phil Lempert, a panel of specialists including a registered supermarket dietician, top U.S. retailers and trend experts collaborated and taste-tested nearly 300 product submissions. Panel participants included Maribel Alchin, dietician and healthy living advisor from the supermarket chain Meijer, and Larry Levin, executive vice president of IRI, as well as executives from some of the top U.S. retailers of candy and snack products including CVS Health, Dollar General, Eby-Brown Co., First Source, H-E-B, Hy-Vee, Hudson News, Ke-HE Distributors, IT’SUGAR, The McLane Co., Meijer Inc., RaceTrac, Walgreens and Walmart.
Panelists rated product submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility, then discussed the top performers in each segment to narrow the selections to five items in each of the nine segments.
On the first day of the Expo, hundreds of retail and wholesale trade customers voted for their top picks in each category in the Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase. A Best in Show selection is also named from the list of final nominees. This year, Tic Tac Minions, a new, limited-edition product from Fererro USA launched in conjunction with the Minions movie to be released this summer, took the Best in Show award.
- The Hershey Co.: Hershey's Caramels
- Marich Confectionery Co.: Marich Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn
- MARS Chocolate North America: Snickers Brand Mixed Nuts
- Chuao Chocolatier: Strawberry Waffle Wild
- Winner: Albanese Confectionery: Albanese World's Best Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanuts
- Perfetti Van Melle USA: Airheads Soft Filled Bites
- Haribo of America Inc.: Haribo Twin Snakes
- Ferrara Candy Co.: Now and Later Splits Lemonade Blends
- Ferrara Candy Co.: Trolli Extreme Sour Bites Fruitz Peg Bag
- Winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co.: Jelly Belly Pancakes & Maple Syrup Grab & Go Bag
- Alli & Rose LLC: Alli & Rose Tropical Fields Crispy Mixed Fruit Chips
- The Hershey Co.: Brookside Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bar
- Hammonds Candy/Old Dominion Peanut Co: Jalapeno Lime Brittle Crisp
- Lady Walton's Cookie Co.: Lady Walton's Milk Chocolate with Toasted Coconut
- Winner: The Hershey Co.: Hershey's Snack Mix
- General Mills: Chex Mix Popped Sweet & Salty
- Jack Link's Beef Jerky: Jack Link's Small Batch Hickory Bacon Jerky
- Kellogg's Co.: Pringles with Dip Jalapeno Cheddar
- Twang Partners Ltd.: Twangerz Snack Topping, Mango Chili Salty Sweet
- Winner:Diamond Foods: Kettle Brand Potato Chips Thick & Bold Dill Pickle
- County Archer: Country Archer Sriracha Beef Jerky
- Carl Budding Co. / Old Wisconsin: Fast Fuel Honey Brown Sugar Turkey Sausage Snack Bites
- General Mills: Food Should Taste Good Real Good Bar: Hazelnut & Sea Salt
- Oberto Brands: Smokey Sweet BBQ Style Chicken Strips
- Winner: Edward Marc Brands: Edward Marc Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Snappers
- Bazooka Candy Brands: Juicy Drop Gummies
- Flix Candy: Lolli Pop Ups: Avengers, Frozen
- Pez Candy Inc: Pez Collectibles: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Ford Gum & Machine Co: Smarties Squeeze Candy
- Winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co.: BeanBoozled Mystery Bean Dispenser
- Palmer Candy Co.: Bakery Delight Pumpkin Pie Pretzels
- Ferrara Candy Co.: Brach's Dark Chocolate Peppermint Almonds
- Ferrara Candy Co.: Brach's Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn
- Burton's Biscuits Co.: Cadbury Creme Egg Cookies
- Winner:Brown & Haley: Roca Thins Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark
- Charms Co.: Boutique Premium Lollipops
- BumbleBerry Farms LLC: BumbleBerry Farms Sticky Buns Cinnamon Honey Cream
- Brown & Haley: Dark Chocolate Roca Thins
- Diamond K Sweets: P'Nutti Better Fudge O'Bits
- Winner: SuperSeeds: SuperSeedz Maple Sugar & Sea Salt
Gum & Mints
- Dr. John's: Dr. John's Sweet Advantage Tangy Melon Mints
- Perfetti Van Melle USA: Mentos NOW Mints Peppermint
- Ferrero USA: Tic Tac Minions (also awarded Best in Show)
- Mondelez International: Trident Layers Swedish Fish
- Winner: Project 7: Project 7 Grapefruit Melon
“The Expo’s new product awards program showcases the best our industry has to offer in terms of creativity and innovation. From large, multi-national brands to small, family-owned companies, innovation is the heart of our business," said NCA president and CEO John H. Downs Jr.
“In 2014, candy and snacks were responsible for 10% of total supermarket sales and 15% of the overall growth of supermarket sales,” he said. “Increasingly, retailers look to our Most Innovative New Product Award nominees and winners, and the trends represented among the selections, in order to determine what will perform well in the coming year.”
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