Sweets & Snacks: Hottest new products and trends for 2010

At the largest candy and snack show in the Americas, the 2010 Sweets & Snacks Expo held this week in Chicago, more than 2 000 new confectionery creations and snack products were unveiled.

The annual trade show is presented by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), who predicts that leading new product trends for 2010/2011 include:

* Chocolate-Covered Everything America’s love for chocolate cannot be stopped as manufacturers look for more and more delicious treats to cover with chocolate. While local gourmands may seek out chocolate-covered bacon and mushrooms at their hometown confectioners, mainstream America will look for more classic items such as the crunchy, salted center of M&M’S Pretzel Chocolate Candies from Mars Chocolate North America.

Cookie fans will go crazy for Bake Shoppe Cookie Dough Miniatures, a chocolate-covered creation from The Promotion in Motion Companies, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies from Albanese Confectionery. Even Peeps can’t resist the lure of rich, smooth chocolate – Chocolate-Covered Pumpkin Peeps from Just Born are available in both milk and dark chocolate.

* Twisted Traditions New twists on classic candies are beloved by consumers who find comfort in familiar brands but want to try new and innovative ways to enjoy their favorite snacks. From The Hershey Company, consumers will be treated to Hershey’s Drops, a new bite-sized candy that offers a lot of Hershey’s happiness in a little drop of milk chocolate or cookies ‘n’ creme candy. Consumers also will get a kick out of the new Reese’s Minis, a combination of milk chocolate and peanut butter in convenient unwrapped mini peanut butter cups.

Mars Chocolate North America serves up TWIX Java Chocolate Cookie Bars, featuring coffee-flavoured caramel paired with an irresistible chocolate cookie and covered in delicious TWIX chocolate. MILKY WAY Simply Caramel Bar features creamy, milk chocolate surrounding nothing but smooth, firm caramel.

You’ll re-think what you know about gum when you try new sugar-free 5 React from Wrigley, a gum that stimulates your senses with either a unique mint or unique fruit flavour experience. A favourite for more than 87 years, Nestle Butterfinger has introduced Butterfinger Snackerz, a crispy, bite-size square, filled with a smooth Butterfinger creme center, wrapped in a chocolatey coating and drizzled with a string of Butterfinger candy on-top.

* Up in the Air  Snacking practically takes flight as these aerated confections or lighter than air treats hit the shelves. The 3 MUSKETEERS Truffle Crisp Bar from Mars Chocolate North America is a tantalizing truffle sitting on a subtle airy crisp layer of meringue enrobed in velvety chocolate.

From the Wonka brand of Nestle Confections & Snack Divisions comes WONKA Whipped Wingers, an aerated, fluffy gummy, the first of its kind on the market, in flavours like watermelon and pineapple. Skinny Mini’s, the lightweight vegetable and potato stick snacks from Cornfields are sold in ‘100-calorie’ bags and are also about 30% lower in fat than similar snacks. 

* REAL Good Today’s consumer focus on natural and wholesome ingredients has not gone unnoticed by the confectionery and snack industry. Honey as an ingredient and as a flavour harkens back to the origins of sweetened confections, but seems as fresh and new as any innovation with Honey Bean, a Jelly Belly jelly bean infused with wildflower honey and new Honey Lovers, colourful heart-shaped fruit chews made with real honey offered by Gimbal’s Fine Candies.

Nutorious nut confections are available in five different taste bud-pleasing varieties and are all natural, low sodium, and GMO-free, and contain no trans fats or preservatives. WONKA Squishy Sploshberries are juice-filled gummies made with 25% real fruit juice and all natural colors and flavours such as Blueberry, Raspberry, Goji Berry and Cloudberry. Decadently delicious, Vegan Chocolate Truffles from Native Gardens boast a medley of benefits and are dairy-free, gluten-free, low sugar, low calorie and handcrafted.     

* The Galloping Gourmet Snacks and confections are little pleasures to be enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle.  There’s no finer way to indulge than with one of these gourmet delights. Asher’s Chocolates proves that the combination of sweet and salty is as popular as ever with its wonderful Vanilla Caramels with Sea Salt. Discover a special Valentine message on every slice of the uniquely indulgent Ferrara Milk Chocolate Strawberry Ball. Jelly Belly toasts many flavours of cocktails with Jelly Belly Cocktail Classics – mojito, peach bellini and more.

Delightful double filled truffles from Madelaine Chocolate, Duets, use state of the art technology to fill smooth, rich milk chocolate truffles with flavour pairings including peanut butter and caramel and milk truffle and white truffle. Iconic candy maker WONKA introduces a premium line of imaginative and whimsical confections called WONKA Exceptionals that includes the Domed Dark Chocolate Bar, a bed of dark chocolate topped with milk chocolate medallions; the Chocolate Waterfall Bar with a distinct blend of white and milk chocolates; the Scrumdiddlyumptious Bar, featuring pieces of toffee and peanuts; WONKA Fruit Jellies, soft, sugar-dusted fruit squares; and WONKA Fruit Marvels, a chewy round ball covered with a smooth candy shell.       

* Fresh-N-Fruity  Bursting on the scene with fresh and powerful flavours are candies and gums in show-stopping varieties. American Licorice Company introduces Grapevines, everything you love about Red Vines licorice in a new fabulous grape flavour. Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome Chews from The Hershey Company combine two bold, intense flavours with two unique textures in each bite-size piece featuring sweet watermelon surrounded by luscious green apple and juicy cherry filled with refreshing orange. Get swept away by the tropical fruit flavours of great tasting, long lasting Extra Fruit Sensations Sweet Tropical gum from Wrigley.

Two other flavour-packed products from Wrigley are expected to make waves this summer: Starburst Summer Fun Fruits in kiwi-banana, lemon-limeade, cherry splash and watermelon; and Skittles Fizzl’d Fruits, fizzling fun for your mouth in flavours like wild cherry and melon berry. Straight out of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” comes Stride Shift from Cadbury North America this amazing flavour-changing gum starts off tasting like citrus or melon and shifts into mint.

* Dark and Dreamy  Dark chocolate has been increasing in popularity for years and new product introductions have played a big part in the expansion of the category. This year look for KIT KAT Dark from The Hershey Company, a delicious combination of smooth dark chocolate and light, crispy wafers. The Wolfgang Candy Company also will please the cookie lover with their buttery cookie and dark chocolate creations such as the Raspberry Truffle. The layer of delightfully dark chocolate covering NECCO’s new Clark Bar Dark takes a new look at a classic American candy. The crunchy sweetness of caramelized pistachio chips will set the Cote d’Or Pistache Noir dark chocolate bar apart from anything you’ve ever tasted. Dark Chocolate Cherry RAISINETS are made from premium, whole dried cherries from Michigan, covered in NESTLE dark chocolate a combination that is both sweet and creamy while also juicy and tangy. 

US Industry Reports on 2009 Product Announcements and Sales*

In 2009, thousands of new confectionery and snack products debuted:

* 2,843 new confectionery products:

Chocolate: 1,760

Non-chocolate: 969

Gum: 114

* 2,980 new snack, cookie and cracker products:

Cookies: 808

Crackers: 159

Potato chips: 300

Popcorn: 96

Nuts and seeds: 289

Cereal bars: 401

Other snacks (pretzels, puffed snacks, fruit snacks, meat snacks, etc.): 927

*Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics online database of new products SKUs 2009

Snacking Industry Posts Gains*

The confectionery industry posted a 3.6% gain in 2009 excellent growth in a slow economy with low consumer confidence. Meanwhile, salty snacks experienced even stronger growth with a 7.8% gain over 2008. Salty snacks and confectionery rank third and fourth overall in food sales, and first and second among snack foods. The cookie category (ranked fourth among snack foods) also experienced a 1.1% growth last year; snack and granola bars (ranked fifth in snack categories) grew 3%.

Major sales trends that helped shape the category in 2009 include:

* Dark chocolate sales slowed compared to previous years, but still grew an impressive 9%

* Coconut and nut confectionery grew 12.1%

* Gummy and chewy candy is up 11.6%

* Theater box candies grew 6% (indicates increased attention to value brands and sizes in keeping with the economy)

* Sugar-free gum grew 7.3%

* Licorice grew 4.7%

*Based on IRI and NCA data.