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Chew on this: Packaging trends for new sweets and snacks
About 18,000 candy and snacks professionals met in Chicago at the 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo to see new products and packaging innovations.

Chew on this: Packaging trends for new sweets and snacks

Candy and snacks are big business in this country. The industry boasts approximately $35 billion in annual sales, accounts for 465,000 jobs and brings about $10 billion in tax dollars into the U.S. Treasury’s coffers, according to the National Confectioners Assn. (NCA).

This booming business took center stage in Chicago’s McCormick Place May 22-24 at NCA’s 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo. During the event, more than 800 manufacturers showed off their latest and greatest products across 4 acres of exhibit and seminar floor space. According to the show company, nearly 18,000 industry pros from more than 90 countries traveled to the Windy City to see all the latest product debuts, packaging innovations and hot flavors.

Here are 10 nifty new items and fascinating trends on display at the show:

Page 1. Contrasting ideas

Page 2. Solo snacking

Page 3. Cake bites

Page 4. Downsized delectables

Page 5. Multi-part munchies

Page 6. Same candy, new format

Page 7. Fun with branding

Page 8. Makeover time

Page 9. Hip chicks

Page 10. Rice is nice

 

1. Contrasting ideas

Snack manufacturers have long put their savory and sweet treats in shiny film and foil bags and pouches. Recently, brands started trying out matte-finish packages to impart a smoother look. At this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo, multiple makers showed off packs with a mix of matte and spot-coated elements, offering an interesting contrast. Companies opting for this bold graphic effect include Mozaics Chips natural and organic snacks, and 4505 Meats pork cracklings.

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Did you know? Our parent company UBM owns these popular packaging events: WestPack, EastPack, PackEx Toronto and PackEx Montreal. Click the links to learn how you can connect in person with leading packaging technology partners, expand your professional network, hear experts analyze key packaging trends and gain a better understanding of today's critical issues.

2. Solo snacking

During the first Tuesday morning session at the expo, Sally Lyons Wyatt, evp and practice leader of IRI, told attendees snacking tends to be a solitary experience—the average American snacks 2.5 times a day, and younger generations snack even more. Offering single-serve options (especially ones that intersect with an increased interest in healthy choices) are on the climb. Cookies are among these, including Cookie+ Protein and ProSupps’ MyCookie.

3. Cake bites

As the success of the meal prep kit business shows (with Blue Apron and Hello Fresh among the top stars), consumers often enjoy the do-it-yourself approach to eating, sometimes with a little head start. In that vein, mug cakes were found at a number of places around the show floor. Notable offerings include organic offerings from actress Sarah Michelle Gellar’s powerhouse Foodstirs, as well as small-but-growing Molly & You.

4. Downsized delectables

Sometimes a consumer just wants a little treat—but the snack they’re craving, unfortunately, only comes in giant, mega-calorie versions. Increasingly, manufacturers are meeting this desire with pared-down versions of traditional treats, so that people can satisfy those cravings without totally busting their diets. Baked-good purveyor JJ’s Bakery showed off its Tid-Bits mini snack pies at the show, roughly half the size of its traditional pies.

5. Multi-part munchies

A number of candy and snack manufacturers showcased packages with multiple components, separating the ingredients until the consumer is ready to mix. The reasons for this division range from keeping crunchy parts from moisture, to delivering the delight of an interactive experience. Items on display that fell into this category include Purely Elizabeth’s oatmeal (with crunchies in a separate compartment atop the cup) and MET-Rx Snack Cups (with a divider between high-protein snack sticks and hazelnut spread).

6. Same candy, new format

Putting an existing candy or snack into a new container can lead to innovation that connects with new consumers. Back in 2012, Kraft simply poured its crunchy mini-marshmallows into a shaker container used on its parmesan and created Mallow Bits. One example found on the show floor: Long Ball Licorice’s Round Tripper, which puts traditional licorice in a multi-layer pack mimicking a chew pouch.

7. Fun with branding

Tie-ins are nothing new—whenever a blockbuster action or comic-book movie is about to hit, the studio slaps its heroes on bags, boxes and jars on every shelf. What many new products at Sweets and Snacks showcased was a deeper, more fun approach to entertainment-branded candy and snacks more closely tying the pack promo and the product together. Examples at the show include Cosmos Creations’ Dino Munch (dinosaur-shaped puffs promoting “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”) and Van Holten’s Pickle Rick pouch, depicting a beloved “Rick & Morty” plotline.

8. Makeover time

It’s rare that a consumer packaged good never changes its look or package. Fun fact: The Swans Down flour box is a favorite of stage managers producing plays depicting decades gone by because it’s stayed the same for so long. The makers of Smarties candy and Kar’s Nuts snacks both unveiled makeovers of their longstanding logos and packs at the show.

9. Hip chicks

Ahead of the event, NCA representatives predicted chickpeas would be a hot ingredient in many new products at this year’s show. They were right on target—garbanzo beans starred in all sorts of products found in several Sweets and Snacks booths. Many were savory, like Biena’s roasted chickpeas and Hippeas chickpea puffs—but interestingly, a number of companies are beginning to get bolder and put the humble legumes in sweet coatings, like chocolate.

10. Rice is nice

Consumers increasingly care about their health and weight. Also, more people are looking to avoid ingredients like gluten, thanks to higher numbers of people getting celiac diagnoses. That could be one reason why a large number of manufacturers are coming out with rice-based edibles. Examples found at the show include Master Rice’s R!se Buddy baked rice snacks and Crunchy Rollers snacks.

Freelance writer and former Packaging Digest senior editor, Jenni Spinner is a trade journalist with two decades of experience in the field. While she has covered numerous industries (including construction, engineering, building security, food production and public works), packaging remains her favorite.

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Did you know? Our parent company UBM owns these popular packaging events: WestPack, EastPack, PackEx Toronto and PackEx Montreal. Click the links to learn how you can connect in person with leading packaging technology partners, expand your professional network, hear experts analyze key packaging trends and gain a better understanding of today's critical issues.

TAGS: Bags Pouches
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