In a letter to members, the NCA said it wanted to give exhibitors for the Sweets & Snacks Expo, set for June 23-25 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, more comfort and “peace of mind,” given the challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The NCA also extended the final booth payment deadline from Feb. 2 to April 6.
The NCA added it is committed to hosting the Sweets & Snacks Expo in person this year.
“As the situation with respect to COVID-19 unfolds over the coming weeks and months we expect to see businesses and live events reopen and travel restrictions ease,” wrote Theresa Anthony, senior director, Expo. “Already we are witnessing the successful staging of live events in Indianapolis and other U.S. cities and around the world. We are confident in our ability to safely convene our industries in June to get back to the business of discovering the latest candy and snack product and merchandising innovations, making meaningful connections and delighting shoppers.”
The NCA announced in October it would move the 2021 Sweets & Snacks Expo to Indianapolis from McCormick Place in Chicago, citing feedback from exhibitors and attendees indicating a strong preference for an in-person event. On the show website, the NCA also points to restrictions on large gatherings implemented by the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois that were in effect as of October.
The NCA said Sweets & Snacks Expo management will follow the COVID-19 preparedness and safety guidelines developed by the Indiana Convention Center, the city of Indianapolis and public health authorities as they evolve. Among the safety measures the Indiana Convention Center will take are:
- Health department approval and input required for large events
- Temperature and health screenings
- Face coverings in common areas and event spaces
- Built-in six-foot physical distancing measures for floor plans, seating areas, and crowd management
- Limited and designated entry and exit doors
- One-way travel markers in hallways and corridors
- Additional hand-sanitizing stations
- 24/7 air circulation and hospital-grade air filters
- Plexiglass shields at all service areas
- Modified food service policies, including cashless and touchless point of sale, in subsequent stages (when allowed)
- Enhanced training on COVID-19 related practices and protocols for all staff
The NCA noted Sweets & Snacks Expo is set to return to McCormick Place in May 2022.
According to the McCormick Place website, the West Building, where Sweets & Snacks Expo is typically held, has 460,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, and the Skyline Ballroom, directly across from the building's main exhibition area, offers another 100,000 sq. ft. The Indiana Convention Center reports it has 566,600 sq. ft. of exhibition space.
As of Jan. 25, there are 423 participating manufacturers listed on the Sweets & Snacks Expo website. The floor plan indicates roughly 110 booths of varying sizes are still available.