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Sweets and Snacks Expo bucks trade show trend

BY Mike Troy

CHICAGO — Retailer and supplier consolidation has led to the demise of some conventional trade shows, but that’s not the case with the Sweets & Snacks Expo.

Record attendance is expected at the event scheduled for May 21 through May 23 in Chicago due in part to format changes by event organizer the National Confectioners Association and the strength of merchandise categories represented at the mega event.

Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, the 2013 Expo is now in its 17th year and event organizers recently announced that exhibit space at Chicago’s McCormick Place is nearly sold out. The increased popularity is due in part to a format change seven years ago that added snacks to the mix of categories represented. As a result, a number of big-name items, including Frito-Lay’s Cracker Jack and Unilever’s single-serve frozen novelties will be on hand this year.

"Seven years ago, when the NCA board decided to incorporate snacks into the Expo, the thought was to increase the opportunities and efficiencies of those already attending," says Larry Graham, NCA president. "By adding respected brands like Cracker Jack, as well as new categories like ice cream, the Expo has become now, more than ever, a retailers’ one-stop-shop for candy and snack needs in a growing variety of product categories." According to Tim Quinn, Expo chairman and vp of trade development at Mars Chocolate North America, "candy and snack category sales continue to outpace total store sales, and in a challenging economy, retailers increasingly rely on those categories that are proven sales performers. The Expo was designed to not only provide retailers access to more new and exciting products, but also to offer merchandising solutions and keynote topics designed to turn insights into actions," Quinn said.

Event organizers also said this year’s Expo will feature an unprecedented number of international exhibitors, with a new Ecuadorian pavilion joining Brazilian, Chinese, German and Mexican pavilions.

"It has become increasingly important that our industry continue to expand our markets to include other countries and regions," Quinn said. "The global marketplace provides an area of growth opportunity going forward, and our Expo is the place to connect with manufacturers from around the world to discover international products that can set retailers apart from the rest."

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Popcorn, Indiana debuts new FIT snack line

BY Jason Owen

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. — Popcorn, Indiana — maker of all-natural popcorn snacks — announced the debut of FIT, a new line of better-for-you popcorn that will be available in stores nationwide this month.

Boasting amazing taste, crispy crunch, 40 calories or less and just 2 g of fat per cup, FIT is ideal for those who are looking to snack smarter, not just skinnier, and don’t want to sacrifice on flavor.

"As people who eat, sleep and breathe popcorn, we pride ourselves in continuing to push the boundaries when it comes to the kernel. Our popcorn chefs worked hard to perfect the pop when developing each of our delicious FIT flavors that are perfect for any occasion," said Hitesh Hajarnavis, president and CEO of Popcorn, Indiana. "With this new line, snackers can have it all. With every delectable bite, FIT features a fresh and savory taste that puts the fun back into guilt-free snacking. There is no need to make any compromises."

Popcorn, Indiana’s chefs, masters in the art of creating delicious high-quality snacks, crafted FIT in four flavors: Sea Salt, Parmesan & Herb, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Onion Dijon. Two of the flavors, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt, will carry the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. As with all Popcorn, Indiana products, FIT contains whole grains, is certified Gluten-Free by the GFCO and is free of artificial flavoring and preservatives.


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Hormel acquires iconic Skippy peanut butter line

BY Jason Owen

AUSTIN, Minn. — Hormel Foods announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Skippy peanut butter business from Unilever United States, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals in the United States and other jurisdictions.

"The acquisition of the Skippy peanut butter business represents a significant opportunity for Hormel Foods. It allows us to grow our branded presence in the center of the store with a non-meat protein product, and it reinforces our balanced portfolio," said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer at Hormel Foods. "The fast growing international line also will strengthen our global presence, and should be a useful complement to our sales strategy in China for the SPAM family of products."

The Skippy peanut butter domestic line consists of 11 varieties of shelf-stable peanut butter products. The brand, first introduced in 1932, holds the No. 2 share in this growing center of the store category and is the leading brand in the faster-growing subcategory of natural peanut butter. Peanut butter is a $2 billion category with a 74% household penetration and is the second most popular sandwich behind ham in the United States. Internationally, Skippy peanut butter is the leading brand in China and is sold in more than 30 other countries on five continents.

Total annual sales are expected to be approximately $370 million, with nearly $100 million of those sales outside the United States. The purchase price is approximately $700 million. Hormel Foods expects this acquisition to be modestly accretive in fiscal 2013. Full-year accretion in fiscal 2014 is expected to be between 13 and 17 cents per share.


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