A Successful 2022 Sweets & Snacks Expo Is a 25th Anniversary Treat for the Industry

June 17, 2022

Celebrating 25 years of innovation and trendsetting in the confectionary and snack industries, the 2022 Sweets & Snacks Expo drew nearly 16,000 total attendees, including nearly 700 exhibitors and more than 110 exhibitors in the Supplier Showcase, to Chicago’s McCormick Place May 23-26.

This year’s show spanned 4.5 acres of candy and snack innovation and focused on the show’s evolution over the past 25 years and its history of offering new confectionery and snack products, actionable insights and opportunities for members of the industry to connect. 

“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, which sponsors the expo. “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.”

Downs added, “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.”

Impressive Evolution

Historically, the event has had a $21 million economic impact to the City of Chicago, with the following key milestones:

  • Originally known as the All Candy Expo, the first show was held in 1997 at Chicago’s Navy Pier and featured 210 manufacturing exhibitors.
  • In 2001, the All Candy Expo moved to the Lakeside Building of Chicago’s McCormick Place to accommodate a growing demand for exhibit space by the world’s leading confectionery manufacturers. Later, the show moved to West Hall and eventually expanded into the Skyline Ballroom as well.
  • In 2007, the All Candy Expo began using the tagline “It’s All About Sweets & Snacks,” foreshadowing the future of the show, and welcomed its first snack exhibitors. In 2010, the event name was officially changed to the Sweets & Snacks Expo.

Treat Trends

Attendees at the 2022 Sweets & Snacks Expo will got the first look at the latest candy and snack products, including those that are driving these key trends:

  • S’more Variety:  S’mores flavored treats—and everything you need to make them—are taking over this summer and throughout the year.
  • Flavor Intensity: Salty, sweet or turn up the heat? There’s something for everyone looking for a more amped up flavor in their favorite treat.
  • Newstalgia: This year, it was all about fresh and innovative twists on the classics.
  • All About Options: Everyone “treats” a little differently, which is why confectionery and snack companies are offering a range of package sizes and product types to meet every occasion.

Sweeting the Education Deal

This year, expo attendees had even more opportunities to make connections and gain insights into trends and best practices in the confectionery and snack industries.

The industry-specific education sessions gave attendees the opportunity to learn from experts, thought-provoking industry panels and confectionery and snack leaders tackling critical issues like supply-chain disruption, revolutionary confectionery and snack product innovation, social media’s influence on purchasing habits and post-pandemic shopping trends.

“The education sessions offered at the Sweets & Snacks Expo are unparalleled,” Downs said. “As consumer habits continue to change during this uncertain time, access to top-tier education and insights is more important than ever, and this year attendees had access to some of the brightest minds in the confectionery and snack industries, whether they were looking to prepare for National Candy Month in June, get inspired for a bigger social media presence or rethink their front-end strategy.”

In addition to a robust education schedule, attendees found insights across the show floor at these education-focused features:

  • Eye-Opener Education 
    Kicking off before the show floor opened, Eye-Opener education sessions featured insights for the early risers looking to get a jump on learning and connections for the day.

  • Insight Stage
    The Insights Stage, located in the West Hall, was the Sweets & Snacks Expo’s home for the latest data and insights on the confectionery and snack categories from industry thought leaders.

  • Innovation Stage
    The Innovation Stage made its debut at Sweets & Snacks Expo this year, providing attendees with industry trends, the latest and greatest confectionery and snack product innovations and more.

  • Destination Front-End
    Destination Front-End took a closer look at the front-end experience, covering topics from merchandising best practices, disruptions on the front-end, new technologies and more to help attendees learn to manage through this vital and ever-changing section of the store.

  • Ask an Expert Kiosks
    The Ask an Expert Kiosks hosted a selection of Sweets & Snacks Expo speakers immediately after their on-stage presentations for follow-up questions and added insights.

Awards Galore

The traditional Sweets & Snacks Expo Awards recognized numerous achievements among industry trailblazers, including the following:

  • Barry Callebaut, leading chocolate and cocoa product producer, 2022 Ruby Award for Supplier Innovation, in recognition of its WholeFruit Chocolate, a new chocolate format made from 100% pure cacaofruit.
  • Kathy Corcoran, vice president at Premier Specialty, 2022 Golden Candy Dish Award, in recognition of her performance above and beyond the call of business to promote and grow the confectionery industry.
  • Lois Anthony, director of sales at PEZ, 2022 Silver Candy Dish Award, in recognition of her significant contributions to growing the confectionery category and in support of the broker community. 
  • Emily Edmondson, sales director at Galerie, in recognition of her  superior leadership and industry mentorship, as well as her proven record of growth, success and influence of women in the confectionery industry and beyond

Meanwhile, the Sweets & Snacks Expo’s Most Innovative New Product Awards were presented to companies in more than 13 categories.

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Partner Voices

Caesars Entertainment strode into 2022 with its sights set on making the year one of innovation and renovation for the Empire as the company announced a $400 million, Las Vegas-style makeover for its Atlantic City properties. The master plan for the company’s three East Coast properties -- Caesars, Harrah’s, and Tropicana -- involves interior renovations, new celebrity dining concepts, and more to create the ultimate seaside conference destination.