Candy, snacks hold innovative potential

There were more than 300 entries in this year’s expo contest.

Candy and snacks are among the food categories with the most innovative potential.

According to Jim Dudlicek, editorial director for Progressive Grocer, Store Brands’ sister publication, there were $1.8 billion in new product launches last year in snack foods and sweets, and they’re taking consumers to new places. Trends reflected in this field of entries include beverage influences, hot spices like ghost pepper, and exotic ingredients like lotus and shamrocks as well as new twists on old favorites.

“Flavor innovation is critical,” IRI’s Larry Levin said during the presentation of the Most Innovative New Product Awards at the annual Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 21-23 in Chicago by the National Confectioners Association, which Dudlicek attended.

With more than 300 entries in this year’s expo contest (judged by a broad panel of retailers and distributors), these exemplars of innovation, taste, packaging and sellability set the stage for the hundreds of products exhibited and sampled at this year’s expo, according to Dudlicek.

Among the award winners were Hershey’s Kit Kat Duos, a teaming of mint and dark chocolate that won the contest’s chocolate category; Peeps Jelly Beans from Just Born in the non-chocolate category, due out by next Easter; TicTac X-Freeze from Ferrero USA for gums and mints, the company’s first venture into strong mints; Kellogg’s Cheez-It Snap’d crackers for salty snacks; and Triscuit Wheatberry Clusters by Mondelez International for savory snacks. Winning Best in Show, with the highest overall score, was Trolli Sour Crunchy Crawlers by Ferrara.

“These are categories that build excitement, and build experience that is essential to growth,” said Michael Sansolo, retail food analyst and awards program emcee.

To read the full list of winners, click here.