25th edition of Sweets & Snacks had $21m economic impact on City of Chicago

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sweets & Snacks Expo, Chicago, trendspotting, Us

The energy at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, US, was at an all-time high in late May, thanks to nearly 700 exhibitors showcasing the foremost innovations across 4.5 acres to the more than 16,000 registered attendees.

Carly Schildhaus, senior manager of Public Affairs for organiser National Confectioners Association (NCA) told BakeryandSnacks the show has had a $21 million economic impact on Chicago. And this year’s event – celebrating 25 years of innovation, insight and connections – was expected to follow suit.

So too, did the vast floor of standout products,​ ranging from chicken skin chips to carrot bacon, a cake soused in Jack Daniels to vegan cookies, plant-based energy balls to carrot bacon.

Extreme flavours dominated – from intensely spicy to deeply sour, along with favourites like PB&J, citrus and rainbow. Classic favourites were reimagined in wonderful ways, like eggo pop tarts and muffin stix, with the smore’s touch popping up around each corner.

Full industry on display

“There’s no better way to celebrate this milestone anniversary for the Sweets & Snacks Expo than in Chicago with the full industry on display,”​ said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association.

“Throughout its history, the show has served as a launch pad for new products and companies and brought new ideas to the forefront of the candy and snack industries.

“I am proud of the work we have done to make the Sweets & Snacks Expo the premier trade show for the candy and snack industries, and I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years of innovation looks like from these dynamic and resilient categories.”

BakeryandSnacks was on the floor to root out the familiar, the disruptors and the successes and the familiar, starting with a look at the show itself in conversation with Schildhaus.

The NCA is the leading trade organisation for the $37bn US confectionery industry, employing around 58,000 workers in more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities across all 50 states. It annually hosts Sweets & Snacks Expo to bring together snack and candy professionals to network, gain insights and knowledge, and showcase the world’s best innovations.

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