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Sweets and Snacks Expo serves up some real treats

This past week in Chicago has thrown up plenty of fascinating new product ranges and sector developments at the Sweets and Snacks Expo event.

The major forces in the US market made their presence felt, with the likes of Mars Wrigley, Ferrero, Ferrara, and Mondelez International all offering big releases, it felt like a particularly eventful and memorable three-day show.

With The Hershey Company marking its 125th anniversary at the event, and a US roll-out for Barry Callebaut’s ruby chocolate, it was unsurprising that the halls of McCormick Place appeared to be bustling with over 15,000 trade visitors.

As we discovered from correspondence in the build-up to the event, were the show open to the public, it would doubtless attract an even greater footfall, but as with any other major sector showcase, keeping the focus tightly on industry professionals has proved dividends.

According to organisers, the National Confectioners’ Association, there remains huge buying power at the event, with the annual sector still worth around $35 billion a year.

One of the most particularly encouraging aspects of the event were the large numbers of independent businesses exhibiting this year – they may only make up around 20-25% of the industry volume-wise, but their presence certainly made a difference at the show.

Beyond the array of new products, another aspect that stood out in contrast to European markets was the US approach to product development, in which artificial colours remain the prevailing trend within the major brands.

From speaking to a number of companies at the show, it seems this is slowly changing in developing greater focus on natural ingredients and colouring, but it’s still a key point of difference from other major confectionery sectors around the world.

One thing is for certain, it was especially rewarding catching up with old friends during the show and making a wide range of new contacts from right across the industry. Sweets and Snacks Expo proved that the US confectionery market is very much alive and kicking. I hope you enjoy our coverage in our next edition.

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