Happy New Year to Candy Industry Magazine and Sweet & Healthy readers!
Hopefully our readers’ holiday season was full of food, family and rest, and if it hadn’t happened already, that the return to work today was smooth and painless.
It feels good to get back in the saddle and resume a regular routine. And now that I’ve returned to my desk and I'm looking at the calendar, I’m excited to see all 2019 has to bring the confectionery industry. Here’s what I’m looking forward to:
  • Industry events: Clearly, one of the best parts of the candy industry is the people, and I enjoy meeting and catching up with them at annual trade shows and conferences. Sweets & Snacks Expo  in Chicago is always a blast, and it’s an honor for Candy Industry and its Kettle Award committee to recognize the cream of the crop. 
However, I’m also looking forward to attending events sponsored by Retail Confectioners International, which will host ts Annual Convention & Industry Expo in Hartford, Conn., in June and its Fall Regional Conference in Nashville, Tenn. in August. In addition to offering fun and educational schedules, RCI events are great for networking within the industry.
The American Association of Candy Technologists’ National Technical Seminar, hosted annually at the scenic McDonald’s Campus in Oak Brook, Ill., also serves as an excellent opportunity to connect and educate. I’ve attended the event twice, and each time I’ve learned something new about the science and art of candy making.
  • Candy trends: It’s also exciting to see what confectionery trends will unfold over the next year. Will themes from 2018 continue to persist, or will we see new territory? Unicorns, emoji and licenses such as PJ Masks and Paw Patrol were popular in 2018, and I imagine some of that will spill over into this year. As far as flavors go, I’d bet blood orange will continue to pop up, along with other citrus such as lemon and yuzu. 
I’ll also venture that ingredients with a “health halo” will continue to be popular in chocolate and snack products. That means more almond, chia, quinoa, berries and cacao nibs. But, of course, only time will tell.
  • Continued work toward cocoa sustainability: On a global scale, I’m excited to see what chocolate makers will do to further their sustainability and community development goals. While a handful of companies have pushed back deadlines another five or six years, any progress toward improving yields, cocoa quality and the livelihoods of farmers is good progress. Candy Industry will continue to report on these efforts along the way.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019 for all. We’ll continue to be a leading source for the confectionery industry, and we can’t wait to connect — and, in many cases, reconnect — with our readers.