Another Sweets & Snacks Expo is in the books, which means the Candy Industry Magazine staff learned all about the confectionery and snack products set to hit shelves in the next year.
It also allowed us to identify a few patterns in ingredients, flavors and themes.
Unicorns are still popular among the novelty set, and coconut is still a favored ingredient. Sahale Snacks launched Coconut Snack Mixes that combine toasted coconut chips with dry roasted nuts, spices and dried fruit. Meanwhile, Unreal Brands unveiled its Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars, which are vegan, non-GMO and free from soy, gluten, corn, artificial flavors and preservatives.
Even a couple hemp-based items made an appearance, including Baktwell Hemp Brownies from Cookies United and the Evo Hemp Protein Bar. It wouldn’t be a surprise if more hemp products are featured in the New Products Showcase next year.
While we observed several microtrends, are are the main ones Editor Crystal Lindell and I noticed:
Consumers should expect to see products highlighting the pairing of different flavors and textures over the next year.
At least three new products have the word “Duo” in their name. Kit Kat Duos, featuring Dark Chocolate and Mint flavors in an initial offering, won the Most Innovative Product Award in the Chocolate category.
Starburst Duos, featuring pairings of Blueberry and Lemon and Watermelon and Strawberry, was nominated in the Non-Chocolate category, and Ice Breakers Duo Orange Mints earned a nomination in the Gum & Mints category.
Other manufacturers experimented with texture. Ferrara’s Trolli brand took Best in Show with Sour Crunchy Crawlers, which feature a gummy worm with a crunchy shell.
Haribo of America unveiled its Watermelon gummies, which include traditional gummy and two layers of foam gummy, giving the product a soft and sweet chew. And, in honor of the company’s 70th anniversary, Smarties Candy Co. launched Squashies, raspberry and cream-flavored foam gummies.
Jelly Belly also released five new Jelly Belly Recipe Mix flavors, including: S'mores, PB&J, Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Meringue Pie and Chocolate Covered Banana. Each one features a combination of two Jelly Belly flavors.
2. Beverage-inspired flavors
Some candy companies have taken inspiration from long-loved cocktails and other drinks for their latest launches.
Epitomizing this trend, Kopper’s Chocolate launched the On The Rocks Chocolate line. While these cordials contain no alcohol, biting into them reveals a liquid center sure to please. Flavors include:
Moscow Mule Cordials: Rolled in a spicy mix of sugar, ginger and mint and featuring a vodka-flavored center.
Cold Brew Cordials: Rolled with crushed espresso beans and featuring a cold-brew coffee-flavored center.
Barrel-Aged Bourbon Cordials: Dusted with rich cocoa and featuring a barrel-aged bourbon-flavored center.
Strawberry Margarita Cordials: Lime-infused dark chocolate cordials dusted with strawberry lime and featuring a tequila-flavored center
The company’s Sparkling Prosecco Cordials also received a nod in the Seasonal category of the Most Innovative Product Awards.
Other companies illustrating this trend include Just Born Quality Confections, which launched Root Beer Float-flavored Peeps, and Theo Chocolate, which introduced the Cinnamon Horchata 45% Milk Chocolate Bar and the Root Beer Barrel 55% Dark Chocolate Bar.
The Sour Punch brand also launched soda-inspired chewy bites in cherry, lime and cola flavors.
3. Spicy flavor profiles
Combining spicy and sweet flavors has gained popularity in the confectionery space over the last couple years, and the trend is still going strong. Spicy also proved to be popular in the snack space at the show.
Slim Jim confirmed it's not messing around, displaying the Monster Hot AF snack stick. It’s seasoned with habañero pepper powder and other spices.
Emerald City Promotions, maker of Sriracha Chocolate, launched Sriracha Ahi Tuna Jerky, while GLK Foods debuted OH SNAP! Pickled Hoppin' Jalapeños. Fasttrack Foods and Van Holten’s also introduced items co-branded with Tapatío, a classic hot sauce.
However, Flamethrower Candy Co. took the spice level to new heights with Ghost Pepper Hard Candy, the Toe of Satan Lollipop and Lil Nitro Gummy Bears, which are 900 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper.
Sweet, spicy and anywhere in between, it’s always a blast to see what the best and brightest in the confectionery and snack industries have to offer. Stay tuned for more coverage of the Sweets & Snacks Expo!