New Expo Timeframe, New Categories — How About a New Name, Too?

Mary Ellen Kuhn

Next year at this time we’ll have the advantage of hindsight as we reflect on All Candy Expo 2007 — the first Expo to be held in a fall timeframe and to include cookie and snack exhibitors. Until then, speculating about the impact of the changes planned for the show is irresistible for many of us. Will the Expo succeed in attracting more exhibitors and buyers?  Does the fall timeframe really work? How did all the changes come about?
The National Confectioners Association is doing its best to ensure that we don’t have to wait for an answer to the last question at least. This fall, members of the NCA executive team traveled to three locations for membership briefings. In the course of those briefings, NCA’s Larry Graham, Libby Taylor and Jim Corcoran explained that the changes were made after comprehensive research was conducted with candy buyers and evaluated by members of a special task force. Hearing the statistics presented at the briefings, one would be hard pressed not to agree that the show is moving in the right direction.
Shortly after the briefings came an announcement that next year’s Expo will boast a brand new destination called the Gourmet Marketplace, where the majority of gourmet candy exhibitors will showcase their products. What a great idea! Kudos to NCA and Jorge Farber, president, Madelaine Chocolate Novelties, for coming up with it. The specialty/gourmet segment of the marketplace is red hot right now, with sales of premium chocolate estimated in excess of $1.5 billion annually and climbing fast. It makes perfect sense to designate a specific area on the show floor for gourmet products. It will be convenient for specialty candy buyers, and it also heightens the visibility of this important confectionery segment.
All in all, the 2007 Expo promises to be an exciting one. It will be held in the new West Building at McCormick Place. A café just for buyers will replace the popular VIB Buyer Boat, and educational and entertainment activities will take place on the show floor — savvy moves designed to maximize floor traffic.  
With all the changes afoot for the Expo, I’d like to suggest one more — a new name. The 2007 Expo will carry the tagline, “It’s All About Sweets and Snacks,” but why not take the plunge and make a full name change? Now that the Expo is slated to feature a broad assortment of snack exhibitors, it’s simply not the “All Candy” Expo. A new name might also be less confusing for members of the international community, most of whom do not use the term “candy” in the same way that we in the United States do. (It was helpfully explained at the Chicago membership briefing, that for most of those outside the United States, the definition of candy includes only sugar products, and not chocolate.)
So let’s keep it simple and straightforward. How about the Sweets and Snacks Expo or something similar? I think the time is right.