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Without question, the NCA’s aka National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo is, in my opinion, one of the world’s most unique, engaging, and compelling trade show’s accessible to entrepreneurs; seeking ideas for new businesses and or to tweak an existing and compatible business concept. Produced annually in May, this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo provided a showcase to the Global Confectionery + Snacks industry, at Chicago’s McCormick Place; home to the show for decades, but not going forward. More on that near the conclusion of the article.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo presents a big opportunity for entrepreneurs because the market is huge. The Confectionary market alone is estimated at in excess of One Trillion U$D, globally, according to Statica. The Savory Snacks market is estimated at in excess of 100 Billion U$D in the USA Alone; also according to Statica.  

The Confectionately business for the most part consists of:

  • Preserved pastry goods + cakes (Hostess, Lil Debbies, Tasty Cakes, etc)
  • Chocolate (Hersheys, Mars, M&Ms, Twixt  to super + ultra-premium brands Lindt, Teuscher, Godiva)
  • Sugar Confectionery (Sweet Tarts, Necco, Peeps, Pez, and some premium brands like Wherthers)
  • Ice Cream, surprising not bigger than the sugar confectionery category
  • Store and Regional brands like Blue Bell, Baldwins, Good Humor, 
  • Premium Brands like Breyers, Haggen Daz, 
  • Socially Progressive brands like Ben & Jerry’s,
  • New Age Brands like “Plant Based” Nick’s,
  • Fruit brands Like Amazon SuperFood Acai based AmaFruit and Sambazon 
  • As well as Sorbet, Sherbet, Gelato brands like

The primary reason for the immense consumption of Sweets in the USA and Europe is the number of Chocolate and Sugar Confectionary focused and heavily celebrated national + international holidays + observances; including but not limited to:

  • Halloween
  • Easter
  • Christmas
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Sweetest Day
  • Secretary’s Day
  • Regional, Ethnic + Cultural Celebration + Observances Globally

One reason the Sweet & Snack Expo provides opportunities for entrepreneurs is its high-level focus on innovation and new products; with its annual;

  • Featured Products Showcase
  • Most Innovative New Products Awards
  • Startup Street
  • Specialty Market shows Gourmet, Premium, Organic and free from products.  

The Sweets & Snacks Expo is the perfect place to see innovation in action. The show has a long history of launching new products, and confectionery and snack buyers spend their days learning about the newest trends and innovations to stock their shelves for the rest of the year. The Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase allows companies to showcase their most innovative ideas, concepts, and products across multiple segments in the candy and snack categories.

“Each year, we’re impressed with not just the number of brand new items on display on the show floor, but also the innovation behind these products,” said John Downs, president, and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “Whether from a small- or mid-sized company or a large global brand, attendees are excited to try new treats from the brands they know, love, and trust.”

Chocolates, said by many to be an Aphrodisiac, are in abundance, taking center stage with signature presentations in all areas of the Sweets & Snacks Expo. Exhibiting are top brands, from the most decadent and expensive, and their signature activations like Lindt’s Chocolate and Wine Pairing Bar, Ghirardelli’s Ice and Malts Counter; to consumer favorites like the Hersheys with the Hershey’s Experience and Wine Social, as well as the Mondelez exhibit with Toblerone and Cadbury. 

The Sweets & Snacks Expo is host to Global Chocolate brands, with great chocolates from as close as Chicago and Wisconsin to, need it to be stated, Belgium, France + Switzerland in particular. Latin America is well represented by brands from Brazil + Mexico. Snack exhibitors represent all regions of the USA and the world including the Middle East, Southern and East Asia.

The Sweet & Snacks Expo is not all Chocolate, with companies like Nestle promoting its SweeTarts brand, which is evolving to a better candy choice with more natural ingredients, like cane sugar. Did I mention Marketing Brand Powerhouse Pez with dispenser brand partnerships with Star Wars and other Disney Franchises; including the Marvel Universe?

As mentioned previously the Snacks, in Sweets & Snacks Expo, refer to a very wide variety of Sweet and Savory Snacks; including but not limited to Jerkys, Popcorn, Potato, and other types of Chips, Rice Cakes, and more. Increasing in presence is the new category of plant-based, gluten-free, organic, and other brands seeking to cater to a growing and influential healthy wellness brands seeking marketplace; especially in the USA and Europe!!! 

With 90 percent of the candy buying market and 75 percent of the snack buying market represented at the show, the attendees can expect quality content both on and off of the show floor. From product showcases and awards presentations to education sessions and networking opportunities, the Sweets & Snacks Expo is the best way to see the industry at its most vibrant.

In 2023 attendees of the Sweets & Snacks Expo can explore the show floor, learn about the industry’s newest and most innovative products, and experience best-in-class educational programs. To learn more and register, please visit

However, surprisingly in 2023, the Sweets & Snacks Expo will move to Indianapolis and after that to Las Vegas. As written previously in the article the show has for decades been produced in Chicago, the home to the largest group of national and international confectionery powerhouses of any other single urban center in the world; home to the likes of Chicago-based confection industry stars are well represented like powerhouse M&M Mars, Farra Pan, Tootsie Rolls, Bloomers Chocolates and Brach’s Bagged Candy’s. And yes you can find ubiquitous stables like Corn Candy + Peeps.