CHICAGO – The 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo, being held May 20-22 in Chicago, will have a noticeable emphasis on the role of candy in a healthful diet. In addition to education sessions and tasting-panel participation by dieticians, many of the exhibiting companies this year are planning new product launches that have health consciousness at their core.
"The Sweets & Snacks Expo has always been a celebration of a category that spreads happiness and fun," said Alison Bodor, executive vice president of the National Confectioners Association (NCA). "Our increased focus on health and wellness highlights candy's role in the diet as a treat and showcases what our manufacturers have done and continue to do to as responsible companies -- from incorporating health trends into new products, to providing front-of-package labeling, to making share packs and re-sealable bags. This category will continue to flourish as we strive to make options that suit the needs of all of our consumers."
In a keynote session, NBC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman will discuss health and wellness as it relates to balancing healthy lifestyles and enjoyment. She will also talk about the important elements to a sensible diet that incorporates candy and snacks in moderate amounts.
Snyderman is known for developing the Treat Yourself Diet, a lifestyle that incorporates simplicity and sensibility into a diet that allows consumers to eat the foods they love while safeguarding their health and weight. She encourages consumers to engage in daily physical activity to allow moderate and enjoyable consumption of sweet treats while reaping the benefits of exercise.
The results of shopper research conducted in February by the NCA shows that most consumers see confections as a treat that should be enjoyed in moderation, with 92 percent saying their health is their personal responsibility.
"Some retailers have been struggling with aligning shoppers’ wants with outside pressure to reduce offerings in the category," Bodor noted. "Candy is often mentioned in conversations about how to reduce obesity in the United States; however, recent research suggests candy comprises only 2 [percent] to 3 percent of the average adult American’s diet, and the [Sweets & Snacks] Expo offers an ideal opportunity to communicate this message to the industry."
The annual expo brings together more than 15,000 trade professionals from 90 countries. The 2014 show floor is sold out with nearly 650 exhibitors of candy, snack and gourmet products.
For the second year in a row, the event's Most Innovative New Product Awards tasting panel will feature a registered supermarket dietician -- another part of the show's healthful diet focus. Peggy Balboa, registered dietician nutritionist for Mariano’s Fresh Market, will sit on the panel that includes candy and snack buyers from the top retailers in the U.S. and around the globe.
“Including a registered dietician’s opinion on the latest crop of up-and-coming new products will keep the dialogue open between retailers, manufacturers and consumers about how candy and snacks fit into a healthy active lifestyle,” said Tim Quinn, vice president of trade relations for Mars Chocolate North America and chairman of the Sweets & Snacks Expo.