At Chicago’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in May, food makers empathized portion control with food and better nutrition, giving marketers opportunities to make snacks and confections more attractive to consumers increasingly concerned with wellness. 

The 2011 Sweets & Snacks Expo, May 24-26 in Chicago, attracted new companies and top customers to one of the biggest show floors ever. More than three acres of confectionery and snack products and merchandising filled the aisles of the sold-out show, which is sponsored by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), Arlington, Va. Some 14,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries attended, with 556 exhibitors. The expo is billed as the largest confectionery, cookie and snack event in the United States.

“For the second year in a row, we posted significant growth in both the show size and number of companies,” says NCA president Larry Graham. “We delivered more than 170 new exhibitors-that’s a 13% increase over 2010. Occupying more than 140,000 net square feet, this was our largest show with the most exhibitors in the expo’s 15-year history.”

The cookie and snack categories, which were added to the show three years ago, continued to flourish, with nearly 40% of exhibitors featuring snack-related products. More than 5,500 candy and snack retail and wholesale customers were pre-qualified to attend, representing major channels in grocery, convenience, mass, drug, club, military, department and specialty stores. Buyers and category managers were the leading titles at the show while another 28% of attendee titles represented executive involvement among the nation’s highest volume accounts.

Highlights included a sold-out Gourmet Marketplace, anchored by an enhanced Taste of Gourmet area showcasing artisans conducting upscale pairings and demonstrations throughout the show, such as cheese and chocolate tastings. Also, a more comprehensive Retail Solution Center offered retailers resources for more effective in-store merchandising, while the highly visible “Magic of Merchandising” display gallery represented the best in class for secondary displays and shippers.

The largest-ever New Product Showcase celebrated the launch of hundreds of new and innovative products in which visitors could scan their favorite items before heading to the show floor.

Re-live all of the excitement including photos, videos, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts by downloading the EXPO App at