The Sweets & Snacks Expo is celebrating its 20th anniversary at its 2017 event in Chicago.
In 1997, the National Confectioners Association introduced the All Candy Expo, now known as the Sweets & Snacks Expo, with a vision to bring manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers together to facilitate business opportunities.
Over the last 20 years, the Sweets & Snacks Expo has made that vision a reality as the Expo has experienced unprecedented growth since it first opened its doors.
“The Sweets & Snacks Expo has evolved into the candy and snack industry’s premier destination for showcasing new products, ideas and business solutions to strengthen the category,” said Barry Rosenbaum, Expo chairman and president of Nassau Candy Distributors. “I’m proud to say I’ve been there since the beginning and look forward to what the next 20 years has in store.”
Launched in 1997, the first All Candy Expo was held at Chicago’s Navy Pier and welcomed 210 exhibitors, drawing retailers from all classes of trade. The show changed its name in 2010 to the Sweets & Snacks Expo to better represent the full range of products on display and meet the evolving needs of the retail and wholesale community. Today, the show welcomes more than 17,000 industry professionals with more than 760 exhibiting companies.
Below is a timeline of other significant events throughout the history of the Sweets & Snacks Expo:
The All Candy Expo moves to McCormick Place Lakeside Center. Retailer attendance is up 80% since the first show. The New Product Showcase makes its debut, along with the International Welcome Center. More than 97% of the U.S. confectionery market is represented on the show floor.
Trade Show Week magazine names the All Candy Expo one of the 200 largest trade shows in the country. The number of exhibiting companies begins to approach 500.
The All Candy Expo is the first trade show in the brand new West Building of McCormick Place. NCA begins to allow exhibitors to showcase an increased amount of snack products in order to meet the buying needs of retail and wholesale customers. The increased space in the new venue allows NCA to introduce the Gourmet Marketplace (known today as the Specialty Market).
Innovation Alley (known today as Innovation Avenue) debuts at the Expo to highlight ten start-up companies trying to make a name for themselves in the highly competitive world of confectionery and snacks. Trade Show Executive magazine includes the Expo on its list of the 50 fastest growing trade shows, noting the increase in number of exhibitors. The Expo begins to appeal to an even more international audience than ever before; international visitors account for more than 15% of total retailer registrations.
NCA launches the prestigious Most Innovative New Products Awards to honor innovation in several product categories including candy, chocolate, sweet and savory snacks.
Expo debuts the Shoppers Solutions Theater (now known as the Sweet Insights Theater), a solutions-driven educational program featuring 20-minute learning lab style sessions with subject matter experts that take place during show hours on the show floor. Rapidly growing retailer engagement catapults the Sweets & Snacks Expo once again onto Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 list, this time for an impressive increase in retail and wholesale attendance.
The Expo E.X.C.I.T.E. awards recognize NCA and the Sweets & Snacks Expo for excellence in marketing as creative and forward-thinking outreach has led to notable increases in both exhibitor and retailer attendance. The show’s global appeal continues to expand as more than 90 countries are represented at the Expo.
The growing popularity of NCA’s learning labs sessions in the Sweet Insights Theater leads to the introduction of the Sweet Insights Summer Series, a distance learning initiative that takes a deeper dive into topics presented at the Expo throughout the months that follow.
The new Skyline Hall opens at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, bringing the total number of exhibiting companies to 760 – a 22% increase over 2015. An additional show floor theater is added to meet increasing demand for insights into the sweets and snacks industries; more than 25 speakers are featured in standing room only sessions. Attendance eclipses 17,000 for the first time in the show’s history driven by double-digit customer attendee growth.
The 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo is May 23–25 at McCormick Place in Chicago.