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Elizabeth LaBau

Trends at the Sweets & Snacks Expo

By May 30, 2010

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Well, I'm back from the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, and it's taken me a few days to decompress, unpack, and get my life back in order. I ended up with over 30 pounds of candy samples, which has now been sorted into piles (to review, to eat but not review, to give away, etc) and, for the most part, photographed individually. I'm going to tackle the reviews soon, but I first wanted to write a few wrap-up posts summarizing some of the cool/fun/popular things featured at this year's Sweets and Snacks Expo.

Cholive chocolate truffle
Cholive chocolate truffle, one of the many adult beverage-inspired candies

Whenever there's a trade show, it's inevitable that people start talking about what trends are evident. I've been guilty of this myself (but only when discussing legitimate trends, of course) and this show was no exception. The National Confectioner's Association, which puts on the Sweets & Snacks Expo, released their own summary of trends that they're seeing in 2010. While I can't argue with them, I think some are so broad as to be meaningless--chocolate-covered candy? Fruity candy? That's like saying adding sugar to candy is a new trend.

Another trend report came from the LA Times, and this one I thought was more on the nose. Among the trends they mentioned in their article:

  • bite-sized and portion-controlled candies and packaging
  • cocktail-inspired candies
  • eco-friendly candy companies, and
  • nostalgic favorites
To these I would add "healthy" candies--there is a greater emphasis on natural and alternative sweeteners, antioxidant-rich "superfood" additives (still seeing a lot of goji berries and pomegranates!) and the gluten-free claim is still very popular, even among candies like hard sugar candies that I can't believe ever contained gluten in the first place. In general, though, I didn't see as many obvious trends as I have in the past at other shows, where it seemed like every other booth featured a yuzu candy, for example. While this makes it difficult to write pithy summaries of the show, it also kept things interesting, as I was able to judge the candies on their own merits instead of trying to fit them into neat categories as is so often the case.

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Photo ©2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc.


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