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2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo sees jump in attendance

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — More than 15,300 people attended the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo at Chicago’s McCormick Place last month, representing a more than 10% increase in attendees over 2012, the organization that sponsors the trade show said.

The National Confectioners Association said that the expo, which took place May 21 to 23, included 164 new exhibitors, compared with 140 last year, and sold 157,100 sq. ft. of space, a 9% increase over last year’s 144,000 sq. ft. This year, 15,389 industry professionals attended, compared with last year’s 14,010.

"For the fourth year in a row, the expo demonstrated significant growth in all areas," NCA president Larry Graham said. "Our 10% increase in overall expo registration is an accomplishment we relish. In a challenging economy, it is apparent by the continued growth that our event provides vital tools, insights, innovations and resources that the industry values."

Among the visitors to the expo, 12% were from outside the United States, with people from more than 90 countries attending. More than 6,000 candy and snack trade customers registered to attend, representing distribution channels like grocery, convenience stores and mass merchandise, as well as niche and specialty outlets.

"We have evolved into so much more than just a show," Mars Chocolate North America VP trade development and expo chairman Tim Quinn said. "Attendees come to find not only new product innovations, but also effective business strategies and inspiring ideas and solutions. With the addition of the new show-wide networking reception on Wednesday afternoon, we provided another opportunity for manufacturers and customers of every size to connect with current contacts as well as forge new business partnerships."

Educational features included the Shopper Solutions Theater, which showcased merchandising displays, and Learning Lab sessions. The show also included the Most Innovative New Product Awards, for which a panel comprising retail customers, food industry and trend experts narrowed down a field of more than 200 new product entries the day before the show started, analyzing taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility. Retailers cast more than 2,000 ballots on the first day of the show, with winning products announced during the keynote sessions the following day.

Highlights from the show included keynote sessions with Duke University’s Coach K, columnist George Will, Leon Nicholas of Kantar Retail and Saatchi & Saatchi X CEO Dina Howell. The Gourmet Marketplace included an enhanced "Taste of Gourmet" area showcasing artisans conducting upscale pairings and demonstrations, while Innovation Alley featured new candy and snack-related startup companies. A park-like concourse with trees and music featured market shops, including a fashion kiosk with custom-made dresses made from candy wrappers and candy- and snack-themed jewelry and accessories.

 

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Generic heartburn drug made by Korean company poised to win FDA approval

BY Alaric DeArment

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean drug maker Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co. and U.S. partner Amneal Pharmaceuticals have made an agreement in federal court concerning a generic heartburn drug that they said clears a major hurdle to its launch.

The companies said a consent judgment had been entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in a patent litigation suit that AstraZeneca filed in February 2011, alleging that Hanmi infringed its patent on Nexium (esomeprazole-strontium) delayed-release capsules. The judgment states that Hanmi has acknowledged two patents in the case as enforceable and valid, and that Hanmi’s product does not infringe the claims of the two patents based on a December 2012 ruling by the court.

The Food and Drug Administration gave tentative approval to the generic drug at the end of April, and Hanmi and Amneal expect that it will receive final FDA approval soon. FDA approval would make Hanmi the first Korean company to enter the U.S. generic drug market.

 

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Update: USA Drug icon Stephen LaFrance passes away

BY Michael Johnsen

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Stephen LaFrance, 71, former owner of USA Drug, passed away Wednesday morning, DSN has learned. 

Additional details were not immediately available, though the passing was unexpected. 

"From opening his first store in 1968, Steve always focused on two things: ‘Take care of your customers’ and ‘Treat your employees right,’" Joe Courtright, former USA Drug president and CEO, shared with DSN. "His motto was ‘Do the right thing.’ And those were certainly words he lived by. He was beloved by his employees."

"Steve was always an honorable man who lived up to his word in all of his engagements with employees, colleagues and vendors," added industry veteran Bob Berman.

According to an obit published by Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Home,  LaFrance is survived by his wife of 44 years, Linda, along with his sons Stephen Jr. and Jason and daughter Amy. LaFrance has seven grandchildren. 

The funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Pine Bluff. There will be a visitation on Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Pine Bluff, PO Box 8003, Pine Bluff, AR 71611, Ralph Robinson reported. 

LaFrance was credited with building a multi-million dollar pharmacy enterprise from $26 in start-up cash, according to a January 2013 profile by Talk Business Arkansas

LaFrance formed the Stephen L. LaFrance Pharmacy, the predecessor to USA Drug, in February 1968. He grew that business into a thriving pharmacy with 144 locations, most notably on the home turf of Walmart. 

The original LaFrance Pharmacy in the mid-1970s became SAJ Distributors, a full-service wholesale distribution company that offered a broad selection of health, beauty and general merchandise to grocery, drug and discount stores. SAJ’s distributed more than 22,000 items to more than 1,000 customers from a four-story, 255,000-square-foot storage facility at its corporate headquarters here.

The first USA Drug store opened its doors in 1984. And two years later LaFrance entered the private-label production business with the formation of Select Brand Distributors. 

Between then and 2012, when Walgreens acquired all USA Drug banners, the Pine Bluff-based chain operated its 144 locations under the retail shingles USA Drug, Super D Drugs, May’s Drug Stores, Drug Warehouse and Med-X Drugs across Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

LaFrance said the decision to sell the chain — which recorded sales of $825 million in 2011 — to Walgreens was "not only because it is the premier drug store company in [our] industry, but also because Walgreens will continue to provide [our] customers with the service and products they have come to expect."

USA Drug ranked No. 31 on the DSN PoweRx 50, with projected pharmacy sales of approximately $409 million in 2011.

DSN will update this news with additional details as they are made available. 

 

 

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