Private Brand Snack Suppliers Focused on Innovation

Exhibitors at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago said unique offerings vital to meeting current-day needs of retailers.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
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Hickory Harvest
Hickory Harvest featured a broad selection of mixes and nuts at the Sweets & Snacks Expo.

Retailers were out in force at the annual Sweets & Snacks Expo as product suppliers were buoyed by the packed aisles in the halls of McCormick Place West.

For private brand suppliers, the show was an opportunity to showcase new products while also reconnecting with retail customers who are seeking to bolster their snack assortments with unique products and flavor profiles not offered by competitors or national brand suppliers.

Among the highlights from Hickory Harvest is the company's new selection of snack mixes, trail mixes and roasted and flavored nuts. A featured new offerings is the company’s “bags in a bag” that provides eight 1-ounce bags of a given flavor in a single pack. Joe Swiatkowski, president and CEO of Hickory Harvest, said the pack is a convenient solution for on-the-go parents who need a quick snack for their kids.

Trophy Nut
Trophy Nut display a variety of flavored peanuts.

The assortment features a host of flavors including Fitness Mix, Java Blend, Mountain Mix, Antioxidant and Pub. 

Swiatkowski noted that business for the Akron, Ohio-based company, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022, continues to grow as retailers seek out innovative new products as part of their effort to expand private brand assortments.

At Trophy Nut, Bob Wilke, executive vice president, echoed Swiatkowski’s comments, noting that his company also continues to see growth in private brand sales.

“We continue to work with retailers, taking their requests for new products,” he said. “But they are also looking to us for innovation and to develop flavor profiles that their national brand suppliers don’t offer.”

Among the new products on display from Trophy Nut at the Chicago show was an assortment of peanuts in a variety of flavors: jalapeno, chili lime, hot & spicy, honey roasted and salted.

Western Smokehouse Partners
Western Smokehouse Partner's assortment of flavored meat sticks.

Private brand growth was also a topic of discussion at Western Smokehouse Partners. The Illinois-based supplier of crafted meat snacks has seen its business expand over the past five years from an annual total of 7 million pounds of product sold to more than 40 million pounds.

To meet this continued robust growth in business the company recently opened a 140,000-square-foot production facility in Iowa. The new plant joins Western Smokehouse’s three other manufacturing facilities located in Missouri and Illinois (2).

“Much of the growth we have seen in recent years is the result of increased demand for clean label meat sticks in various flavors,” said Matt Bormann, president & CEO of Western Smokehouse Partners. 

Among the featured meat sticks on display at the company’s booth were classic beef, chicken fajita, pepperoni turkey and Hawaiian pork.