NCA’s Sweets & Snacks Expo Continues to Break Records

NCA’s Sweets & Snacks Expo Continues to Break Records

WASHINGTON – The 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo, hosted by the National Confectioners Association, set an all-time attendance record for the second consecutive year as more than 18,000 industry professionals from nearly 90 countries were welcomed to McCormick Place to experience the latest trends and innovations in the candy and snack categories. Exhibitors grew nearly 6 percent representing more than 800 candy and snack companies showcasing over 4 acres of product innovation over two halls.

“There was an amazing energy on the exhibit floor this year as the Sweets & Snacks Expo continues to be the premier, must-attend event in the confectionery and snack business,” said John Downs, president and CEO of NCA. “Expo was the perfect venue to introduce the chocolate and candy industry’s recent leadership commitment to our retail and wholesale customers. As we work to provide Americans with transparency, portion guidance and consumer education as they enjoy their favorite treats, attendees got to experience first-hand what this groundbreaking initiative means for our industry.”

The chocolate and candy industry’s leadership commitment was a focal point of the Expo as more than 80 percent of the candy category’s buying power was in attendance. An educational session on the first day provided attendees with insights on what they can expect from the participating companies in the next five years as it relates to providing consumers with information, support and education. All of the participating companies, which include Mars Chocolate, Wrigley, Nestle, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Russell Stover, and Ferrara Candy Company, had displays in their booths marking the company’s involvement with the historic commitment.

With a bulk of the buying power in the candy category, plus more than 75 percent of the snack category’s buying power in attendance, the Sweets & Snacks Expo has singled itself out as the most vital industry event to find solutions and grow business. Attendees were able to visit the 217 new exhibitors, view the 45 hottest retailer-approved New Product award nominees, and learn from any of the targeted knowledge-building sessions.

“Year after year, the Sweets & Snacks Expo proves to be the leading business event for the candy and snack categories, and 2017 was no different,” said Barry Rosenbaum, Expo chairman and president of Nassau Candy Distributors, Inc. “We are proud to provide a focused environment where attendees can meet with current and future partners, and learn about the latest trends affecting the industry.”

2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo Highlights:

Higher Impact Show Floor

  • Skyline Hall, now in its second year, was home to more than 150 exhibitors and the show’s educational epicenter in Discovery Theater.
  • The Specialty Market, located on the show floor, experienced tremendous attendee focus and was at its all-time largest featuring more than 140 exhibitors.

Celebrating What’s New

  • Eye-Opener morning sessions debuted to provide attendees with knowledge-building experiences all before the show floor opened. Topics ranged from candy, snack and specialty trends to the latest in technology and innovative retail marketing.
  • Attendees were also able to further explore the latest technology and merchandising solutions driving shopper engagement at the new Destination Retail area featuring IBM, Dart Displays, Menasha, Pointy, Shelfbucks, One-Click Retail and Lighting for Impact.
  • Three entrepreneurial startup companies, Amore di Mona, Brooklyn Cookie Company and Pajama Sweets had the opportunity to make their “Power Pitch” to gain insights and business tips from a panel featuring some of America’s leading retailers.

Innovation in Products and Marketing Solutions

  • Innovation Avenue welcomed its highest number of start-up companies with 20 businesses exhibiting their new brands.
  • Hershey’s Reese’s Crunchers received the Best-In-Show new product award during the Most Innovative New Product Awards’ champagne celebration which took place live on the show floor.
  • Buddah Brands’ Hungry Buddah Probiotic Coconut Chips in Cheeky Chocolate brought home the inaugural Small Business Innovator New Product Award, recognizing a start-up with net sales under $500,000.

Building Communities with New and Returning Attendees

  • The Buzz Networking Reception held on the grand concourse drew thousands. New to the Buzz Reception was the introduction of micro-meetup areas where specialty buyers, snack buyers and first-time attendees could interact with each other in a more intimate setting.

There’s an App for That

  • Nearly 60 percent of attendees downloaded the Expo app in order to gain real-time access and navigate through the 800+ exhibitors on the show floor, download session schedules and experience the 45 Most Innovative New Product Award nominees.
  • The #SSEBuzz Selfie Contest made its debut as more than 100 entries were received during the hour-long Buzz Reception. Attendees that posted their photos using the hashtag were entered to win numerous prizes.

Industry Groups Prepare for the Future

  • NCA’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) reception on Wednesday evening, May 24 at Barry Callebaut’s U.S. headquarters welcomed nearly 200 people, providing the industry’s emerging leaders with a venue to connect with their peers and industry mentors.
  • NCA’s Women’s Leadership Group held its annual breakfast on May 24. More than 150 attended the breakfast which featured Minute Mentoring where industry mentors provided rapid-fire advice sessions.

After the show closed, leftover candy and snack products donated by exhibitors were taken to Give Kids The World, a non-profit for children with life-threatening illnesses.

The Expo is more than 90 percent sold out for 2018. Next year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo will take place May 22-24, 2018 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

About the National Confectioners Association (NCA):
The National Confectioners Association is the leading trade organization for the $48 billion U.S. confectionery industry. NCA advocates for an environment that enables candy makers to thrive and works to ensure that chocolate, candy, gum and mints are celebrated for their contributions to culture, society, the economy and everyday moments of joy. The industry employs nearly 58,000 workers in more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities across all 50 states and supports an additional 635,000 jobs in related fields. The U.S. confectionery industry has made a commitment to increasing transparency, providing more portion guidance options and educating consumers about the role of confectionery in a happy, balanced lifestyle. Learn more at or follow NCA on Facebook, X and Instagram.

About the Sweets & Snacks Expo
Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, the Sweets & Snacks Expo is the confectionery and snack industry’s most successful, world class event. It is unrivaled in new product launches, business building solutions and innovations in merchandising. 17,000 qualified professionals attend with global presence from 90 countries. More than 800 companies displaying more than 4 acres of candy and snack products participate in the Expo. The event is held each May at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

High resolution photos from the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo can be downloaded from the Expo’s media photo gallery.