Sweets & Snacks Expo ensures Chicago offers a fond farewell as host city

Arriving back in Chicago to cover this year’s final edition of hosting Sweets & Snacks Expo before it takes to alternate venues felt like a particularly poignant moment.

For the past 26 years, the city has played host to the highly influential industry event including its former Navy Pier location, before its move to McCormick Place, which has been a consistent base for the event, until the pandemic caused major disruption and saw it relocate temporarily to Indianapolis – where it is due to be hosted again next year.

But what of Chicago’s involvement with the show? It’s certainly seemed like a perfect fit with the city’s strong heritage in the industry, with the likes of Mars, Barry Callebaut, Ferrero and also Mondelez all having facilities within the area, it’s very much regarded as a confectionery-loving city, as well as having a broader reputation within the wider food and drink sector.

From speaking to many people and businesses at the show so far, it seems saying goodbye to Chicago offers a moment for reflection on what it’s meant to the area for more than two decades, yet also a chance to look forward with optimism.

As we reported earlier this year from the SOTIC event, the US confectionery market has shown some commendable resilience through the pandemic, emerging to become a $42billion industry that is continuing its positive growth trajectory.

It’s certainly clear from walking the halls of McCormick Place so far this week, that there’s some genuine innovations being brought to market, right across the sweets and snacks space. This includes the region’s first chance to taste Barry Callebaut’s second generation chocolate, which has been hailed as a a game changing moment for the segment, offering sustainably developed, reduced sugar premium products that have focused on a clean-label approach to delivering a series that is razor-focused on natural ingredients.

There are plenty of new innovations from the likes of majors including Hershey, Mars, Ferrero, Ferrara and Mondelez International (which you can see a special Chicago report on in our next magazine), alongside a host of family-owned businesses including a small contingent of British companies eager to explore the opportunities that exist in the region, which have helped contribute to making this a very special show indeed.

The fact that the fair includes national pavilions from as far and wide as Turkey, Brazil and Germany, underlines it’s a showcase that has made a notable level of effort to engage with the international confectionery community. Perhaps the most remarkable appearance from a number of Ukraine-based businesses, which have shown significant determination to maintain manufacturing output, despite the ongoing war, that continues to have an impact on supply chains around the world.

Speaking to show organisers, the National Confectioners Association, its clear there’s plenty of enthusiasm for taking the event on the road, alternating between Indianapolis and Las Vegas, which is anticipated to add some fresh impetus to the trade event, which is continuing to grow.

There’s plenty more to discover at the show, so look out for our full report in our combined July/August edition, as well as our video coverage from around the event – which is very much signing off in style this year from the ‘Windy city’ of Chicago, which has been a memorable home for this much-cherished event.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

–  Keep in touch with any show news this week – get in touch directly with any news stories to me directly at [email protected]


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