Affordable gourmet confectionery is on the rise in the US, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA) which has seen a hike in demand from exhibitors wanting to showcase products in the Gourmet Marketplace at the 16th Sweet & Snacks Expo.
Jenn Ellek, director of trade communications at the NCA told ConfectioneryNews.com: “In those five years it has continued to grow and grow and take up a larger space on the show floor.”
She said that exhibitors felt they could get more exposure in this area and feedback indicated that confectioners enjoyed the special focus. “Every year we sell-out that area,” she said.
According to Ellek, the zone tends to be ruled by chocolate. “It’s close to 65%,” she said. However, the area is also home to non-chocolate items such as gourmet liquorice and gourmet jelly beans.
The NCA’s Sweets and Snacks Expo will take place in Chicago, Illinois, between 21 and 23 May 2013. The Gourmet Marketplace is an area of the show dedicated to gourmet, natural and organic confectionery and snack products that has run for the past five events.
Ellek said the US market was seeing growth in “everyday gourmet” – products that have a premium position but an affordable price point.
NCA president Larry Graham told this site at ISM in Cologne that it wasn’t just specialized companies taking advantage of the rise in gourmet confectionery in the US. “Almost all of our bigger companies –Mars and Hershey, Nestlé and Mondelez – have come up with all kinds of new interesting gourmet products and also seasonal products. I think everyone’s taking advantage of it,” he said.
Hershey has its Rainforest Alliance-certified Bliss range, while Mars enjoys everyday gourmet positioning with its Dove brand.
Global manufacturer and retailer show
Ellek said the Expo was a place for global manufacturers to showcase new products to retailers and find out how to merchandise goods in stores to boost sales.
“Our exhibitors are confectionery manufacturers from the big five through to the small-to-medium-sized companies,” she said.
Retailers across all channels including C-Store, drug stores and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart will attend, said Ellek. “We have a lot of online retailers coming to our show,” she said, adding that retailers emanate from almost 40 different countries.
The show includes a conference program covered by entry cost that will feature basketball coach Coach K, a state of the industry presentation from Kantar, Saatchi and Saatchi discussing shopper marketing and Pulitzer prize-winning columnist George Will on how politics impacts business decisions.
New products showcase
Innovation alley will be a place for new companies to exhibit to retailers looking for novel products. Start-up firms will be provided turnkey booths to exhibit products. The Alley has been running for the past two years and Ellek said that some start-ups had previously struck deals with large retailers during the show.
“The candy and snack category has experience more product releases than any other category,” said Ellek. The Expo will run an awards ceremony for the most innovative new products, which are decided by retailers. Ellek said to retailer visitors: “If you don’t know where to visit, go to these products.”