Some 40 new confectionery and snack products across eight categories named Most Innovative New Products of the Year.
During the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo, held in Chicago in May, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) bestowed 40 Most Innovative New Product nominations to companies showcasing imaginative ideas, concepts and products in two of the fastest growing categories in the marketplace: confectionery and snacks.
Retail and wholesale trade customers then electronically selected one winner in each of the eight categories that help make up the $80 billion U.S. sweets and snacks industry.
“The Expo’s new product awards program has been not only one of the most unique and diverse as far as product submissions, but also one of the fastest-growing, most popular awards programs with submissions up 17% in the last year,” said Phil Lempert, food trends editor for NBC’s TODAY Show and panel moderator.
The day before the Sweets & Snacks Expo, thought leaders including top U.S. retailers, food industry icons and trend experts collaborated and taste-tested more than 200 product submissions.
Panel participants included The NPD Group Trends expert Harry Balzer, Saatchi & Saatchi X’s Worldwide CEO Dina Howell and the Food Network’s Iron Chef winner and restaurateur Chef Homaro Cantu as well as executives from some of the top retailers of candy and snack products in the U.S. including:
• BP/ARCO Ampm
• Dollar General
• Eby-Brown Company
• Sam’s Club
The panel analyzed eight candy and snack segments ranging from chocolate and nonchocolate to savory and salty snacks. Panelists then rated product submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility and nominated up to five of the top items across the eight segments.
On the first day of the Expo, more than 1,000 retail and wholesale trade customers voted for their top picks in each category in the Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase.
“About 30% of annual confectionery and snack sales are attributed to products introduced in the last two years, so these launches are critical to industry success,” commented NCA President Larry Graham.
Announced at a keynote session during the Expo, the nominees and winners in each category are as follows:
Chocolate winner: The Hershey Company – Kit Kat Minis
Chuao Chocolatier – Pop corn Pop
Cosijns Chocolatier – Sushi Dessert Garden Party
Mars Inc. – M&M’s Chocolate Bar
Pure Chocolate – Exclusive Truffles Collection
Non-chocolate winner: Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa – Coffee Thins
Ferrara Candy Co. – Trolli Evil Twins
Jel Sert – Mott’s Freezer Bars
Just Born, Inc. – Hot Tamales Tropical Heat
Project 7 – Save the Earth Mints
Sweet snacks winner: Sprinkle It On – Handmade Marshmallow & Rice Cereal Confectionery
479 – Toasted Coconut Caramel
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Minis
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Lifesaver Berry Bites Gummies
Salty snacks winner: Sahale Snacks – Pomegranate Pistachios
Gourmet Basics – Original Sweet Maui Rings
Herr Foods, Inc. – Baked Multigrain Crisps – Tuscan Garden Medley
That’s How We Roll – Party’tizer Dippin Chips
The Daily Crave – The Daily Crave Veggie Chips
Savory snacks winner: Fire Corn Popcorn/Pop Gourmet – B.A.’s Fire Corn, Real Jalapeno Popcorn
Big League Snacks – Big League Jerky – Sweet & Spicy flavor
Fire Corn Popcorn/Pop Gourmet – POP! Gourmet Popcorn, Rogue Blue Popcorn
Pizza is 4 Suckers – Pizza is 4 Suckers – Hard Candy
Sahale Snacks – Maple Pecans
Novelty/licensed winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Tabasco Jelly Bean bottles
Bazooka Candy Brands – Ring Pop Gummies
Jel Sert Company – Baskin Robbins Sherbet Freezer Bars
Swiss Colony Retail Brands – Blueberry and Pomegranate Jelly Belly Cake Bites
Swiss Colony Retail Brands – Very Cherry Jelly Belly Cake Bites
Seasonal winner: Russell Stover Candies, Inc. – Russell Stover S’mores BIG BITE Bar
Charms Company – Charms Candy Corn Pops
Just Born, Inc. – Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow PEEPS®
Just Born, Inc. – PEEPS® Chick in Chocolate Egg
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Candy Corn
Gourmet/premium winner: Hammond’s Candies – Hammond’s Milk Chocolate Red Velvet Cake Bar
Bare Fruit – Bare Fruit Natural Chili Lime Apple Chips
Golden Island Jerky – Korean BBQ Pork Jerky
Hammond’s Candies – Hammond’s Peanut Butter Cup Gift Box
Two Haute Cowgirls Popcorn Confections – Haute Buttered Rum Brittle
“We are seeing new trends emerge including creative spins on classic candy and snack favorites as well as wild new flavor combinations for treats,” commented Expo Chairman Tim Quinn, vice president of trade development at Mars Chocolate North America. “Where else but at the Sweets & Snacks Expo will you find birthday cake PEEPS, pizza-flavored hard candy, a bee pollen chocolate bar and sweet and savory quinoa clusters?”
Award winners then had two days at the Expo to proudly display their awards and make the industry aware of their accomplishment.
“It is an honor to have our new Kit Kat Mini’s selected as the most innovative new chocolate product,” said Tom Joyce, vice president global customer and industry affairs of The Hershey Company. “We are in a very competitive industry with many outstanding companies making great products. As leaders in the industry, it is important for us to support the Expo and inspire innovation within the category.”
“Being a finalist and then winning drove many potential customers and partners to our booths,” said David Israel, CEO of Pop Gourmet, makers of Real Jalapeno Popcorn. “There was quite a buzz that was stimulated by this experience. It also solidified that we are leading the way in quality and innovation within our category.”
The 2014 Most Innovative New Product Awards will be presented at next year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo to be held in Chicago, May 20-22, 2014.