Sweets And Snacks Expo Showcases 2013 Trends

Comfort, spice and little bites dominate candy and snack category trends.

sweets & snacks expoThe 2013 Sweets and Snacks Expo, presented by the National Confectioners Association (NCA) took place in Chicago at McCormick Place May 21-23.

The show brought together more than 15,000 manufacturers, buyers and industry leaders from 70 countries. More than 600 companies debuted treats, and more than 150 businesses displayed candy or snacks for the first time. The 2013 Expo marked the largest in both floor size and number of exhibitor’s in the show’s history.

New and unusual spices and flavors, comfort foods, and little tastes emerged as the 2013 trends to meet the ever-evolving appetites of consumers.

“In 2013, confectionery and snacks are spicing up life,” said Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association. “We’ve seen tangy flavors in sweets and snacks before, but the variations are becoming more daring each year. Consumers are excited by new flavors and formulas, and the confectionery and snack industries have obliged. We’re looking across borders and cultures for inspiration, we’re borrowing flavors historically not found in the category, and we’re taking consumers along for a wild and satisfying ride.”

 Top Consumer Snack Trends 2013:

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot— Chipotle, picante and jalapeño – consumers can’t get enough spice when it comes to candy and snacks this year. Candy and chocolate products like American Gourmet Group’s Chipotle Dark Chocolate Bar, Seth Greenberg’s Authentic Southwest Jalapeno Crunch from Brownie Crunch or Jelly Belly Candy Company’s Tabasco-flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans combine the tastes of sweet and spicy. Snack foods often take a more traditionally spicy route as seen in products like Rocky Mountain Popcorn’s Chile Picante Poplets and Perky Jerky’s Hot and Bothered Turkey Jerky.

Get Comfy— Comfort foods have taken over the food industry in recent years, with traditional offerings becoming more innovative. This trend toward comfort has invaded the candy and snack categories combining comfort foods like honey and cake with more traditional items. Hammond’s Milk Chocolate Red Velvet Bar from Hammond’s Candies, Ardené Cookies’ Butterscotch Peanut Butter cookies, Bobi Bee Sweet USA’s Bobi Bee Manuka Honey Sweet Treat and Haute Buttered Rum Brittle from Too Haute Cowgirls Popcorn Confections are all sure to leave you feeling warm and cozy inside.

Bits and Bites—When you want just a small taste of chocolate or your favorite snack, nothing else will do. This year, a bounty of bites hit the market with products like Perfetti Van Melle USA’s Airheads Bites in fruit and berry flavors, barkTHINS snacking chocolate from Ripple Brand Collective, Bonomo Chocolate Covered Vanilla Nibbles from The Warrell Corporation, The Hershey Company’s Kit Kat Minis, and Starburst Minis from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Mars Chocolate North America is introducing SNICKERS Bites and MILKY WAY Bites.

Everything Old Is New Again—Candy makers in particular love to put a new spin on classic products. Fun and novel Ring Pops get a new life in Bazooka Candy Brand’s Ring Pop Gummies, traditional marshmallows are re-invented with Campfire Marshmallow’s Mallow Bursts in flavors like key lime and lemon meringue, candy corn takes on all new form and function in the Charms Company’s new Candy Corn Pops, and even Just Born’s Marshmallow Peeps got in the act with bubblegum and birthday cake flavors.

Alternatreats—Nontraditional ingredients have increasingly found their way into the confectionery and snack aisles, taking advantage of global tastes and expanding palates. Products like Flamous Brand’s Sprouted Mulitgrain Zatar Chips, I Heart Keenwah’s Chocolate Sea Salt Quinoa Clusters, Love Your Health’s soynut, pumpkin seeds and cranberry Soy Mix, and Rickland Orchard’s Greek on the Go! Mango Granola Bites made with Greek yogurt encourage consumers to think ‘outside the bag’ when it comes to snacking.

Decidedly Decadent —Treat yourself to the rich and decadent tastes coming out of this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo with products ranging from those that are a feast for the eyes like Cosijns Chocolatier’s Sushi Dessert Garden Party to candies that will bring back memories of childhood campfires like Russell Stover’s S’more Big Bite Bar to treats that will allow you to indulge in new tastes like DOVE Chocolate’s new Cookies and Crème and Mint and Dark Chocolate Swirl bars.

Tantalizing Tastes—Candy and snack makers let their imaginations run wild when it comes to developing new flavors for treats. This year, consumers can expect to indulge in a huge variety of taste sensations including Van Holten’s Big Papa Dill Pickle Popcorn, BLK Corporation’s Caoni Milk Chocolate with Passion Fruit and Torie and Howard’s Organic Hard Candy in flavors like D’Anjou Pear and Cinnamon and Pink Grapefruit and Tupelo Honey.

* Product examples from among those submitted for NCA’s Most Innovative New Product Awards

State of the Industry

    The confectionery industry contributes $33 billion+ to U.S. retail sales and employs more than 70,000 workers.

    Confectionery retail sales have grown steadily since 2007, increasing from $27.4 billion to $32.8 billion in 2012+.

    Major holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas/Hanukkah generate more than $7 billion+ in seasonal sale items.

    Confectionery (chocolate, candy and gum) ranks as the fourth largest product category in overall food sales.*

Snacks also contribute impressively to the U.S. economy:

    Total sweet and savory snacks, including chips, cookies, snack bar and nuts, contribute $40 billion to U.S. retail sales.~

    Sweet and savory snacks sales have increased 22.6% since 2007, climbing from $32.7 billion to $40.1 billion in 2012.~

    The biggest holiday driver for snack sales differs from confectionery with events like the Super Bowl taking the top spot. Some 46% of consumers report indulging in salty snacks for the big game.^

Dollar sales are climbing across the board for candy and snacks*:

(Dollar sales change 2012 v 2011)

Snack Nuts / Seeds / Corn Nuts              +10.9%

Snack / Granola Bars               +6.9%

Crackers:                  +6.7%

Non Chocolate Candy               +5.8%

Cookies                  +4.9%

Salty Snacks               +4.2%

Chocolate Candy               +4.1%



+ NCA estimates, 2013

* IRI data, 2013

~Euromonitor, 2013

^ Nielsen, 2013


2012 Product Launches

Candy and snack items accounted for 26% of all new CPG introductions in the past year. In 2012, thousands of new confectionery and snack products debuted to meet consumer demand. These included:

  •  765 new confectionery products:

        Chocolate: 423

        Sugar Confectionery (non-chocolate): 302

        Gum: 40

    • 2,183 new snack, cookie and cracker products:
        Cookies: 310

        Crackers: 188

        Potato chips: 283

        Popcorn: 102

        Nuts and seeds: 178

        Cereal bars: 451

        Other savory snacks (pretzels, tortilla chips, puffed snacks, fruit snacks, meat snacks, etc.): 522

        Processed Snacks (tortilla chips, corn chips, other non-potato chips): 149 

Source: Datamonitor Consumer’s Product Launch Analytics online database of new U.S. products SKUs 2012.

Consumers and Snacking

    • 32% of consumers like to eat candy and other snacks that add excitement to the daily diet.*

    • 27% of consumers feel gourmet products are worth paying extra for.*

    • 49% of consumers look for confectionery and snacks that appeal to multiple people in the household.*

    • Snackers are loyal people with 79% of consumers saying they usually seek out their favorite candy and snacks brands and 43% noting that these brands are often the ones they loved as children.+

    • 50% of after-dinner snackers say they chose items that “delight” them.+



+ The Hartman Group





  1. Biggest Best Show ever. Quick video tour of the Sweets Expo on YouTube:


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