The event will remain at McCormick Place in Chicago in 2022 and 2023, where it has been held for more than 20 years. The rotation, which includes two years at the Indiana Convention Center and one year at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is scheduled through 2032.
"Indianapolis and Las Vegas are the right fit to meet the growing demand for our show and enable it to continue providing the innovation, insights and connections that the candy and snacks industries want and need," said John Downs, NCA president and CEO, in a press release. "This decision is all about the show's future, and it was driven by our exhibitor and attendee community, for our exhibitor and attendee community."
On a call with media representatives Tuesday, Downs said the rotation will allow the show to maintain its presence in the Midwest, where there is a strong confectionery footprint, and expand its reach on the West Coast, specifically to attract new attendees and international participation. He added retailers on the West Coast provided feedback that they’ve enjoyed past experiences in Las Vegas.
Downs noted organizers hope to grow attendee and exhibitor participation to at least pre-pandemic levels, which includes, on average, 18,000 attendees and 800 exhibitors from 90 countries. As of Tuesday, 684 exhibitors had registered for the 2022 event, set for May 23-26.
The decision to relocate stemmed from moving the Sweets & Snacks Expo to Indianapolis in 2021. The NCA would not have been allowed to host a show in Chicago under the city’s and Illinois’ pandemic regulations, Downs said, but with Indianapolis safely holding the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship and other events, the city seemed like a suitable location for the Sweets & Snacks Expo.
“When we moved out of Chicago and moved to Indianapolis in 2021, it opened up our eyes, so to speak, to Indianapolis' attraction,” Downs said, pointing to the accessibility of the city’s airport and “Hoosier hospitality.”
Downs added the available space in Chicago, and whether it would allow the show to continue to grow, has been a concern for the last several years.
“We knew we had to do something if we couldn’t find the available dates to get us additional space that was needed,” he said. “Our success was terrific in terms of growing our attendees in Chicago, but there were space considerations for us that we had to take into account.”
The NCA Board of Trustees and the Sweets & Snacks Expo Committee, chaired by Ed Seibolt, vice president of sales and business development, Ferrero/Fannie May Confections, undertook a 14-month process to relocate the show.
"We saw great success in Indianapolis during the 2021 Sweets & Snacks Expo, with many attendees expressing a desire to return," Seibolt said in a press release. "Similarly, Las Vegas is an international destination with the facilities and attractions to help the Sweets & Snacks Expo continue to scale. I believe all parties will benefit tremendously from everything our new host cities have to offer."
On the call, Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy, and Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, pointed to the investment their communities are making in the next couple years. Hoops said more than 10,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center will be available by 2024. Hill noted more than $10 million in investment will be made around the Las Vegas Convention Center’s West Hall by 2026.
"It has been a great pleasure engaging with the staff, board, and business members of the National Confectioners Association over the past 18 months and hosting the Sweets & Snacks Expo last June," Hoops said in a press release. "After the success of the 2021 show under particularly challenging conditions, Indy and the NCA were clearly a natural fit for long-term growth. The 2024 show can't come soon enough, and we look forward to hosting these amazing people and businesses, small and large, for many years to come."
The Sweets & Snacks Expo will follow the below schedule. The show will continue to be held in May each year.
2022 – McCormick Place in Chicago
2023 – McCormick Place in Chicago
2024 – Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis
2025 – Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis
2026 – Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas
2027 – Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis
2028 – Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis
2029 – Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas
2030 – Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis
2031 – Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis
2032 – Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas