CHICAGO — The 2023 Sweets & Snacks Expo took place May 22-25 in Chicago, where more than 17,000 people registered to attend and over 800 companies exhibited their latest innovations. The assorted brands and products on display showed off their latest trending innovations, from indulgent treats to iconic partnerships.

Market research company Mintel found 95% of US adults snack at least once a day, with 70% snacking two or more times, according to the company’s “Snacking motivations and attitudes” report. The report also noted those who snack four or more times, known as “super snackers,” is also on the rise.

“Sometimes we’re grabbing that indulgent treat, and then sometimes we’re looking for that power-up or that better-for-you experience, but what we’re finding is that people want both,” said Allison Mason, associate manager, corporate communications at The Hershey Co. “It’s not one or the other, which is great news for retailers.”

Companies like Chocxo are homing in on those consumers who are toeing the line between functionality and indulgence. At Sweets & Snacks, the chocolate brand debuted its dark milk chocolate toffee almond and sea salt snaps, the latest product to join the company’s low-sugar chocolate line.

“Consumers want indulgence they can feel good about,” said Kristen Mandel, vice president of marketing at Choxco. “If you use the highest quality ingredients, you should be able to indulge in a carefree, feel-good way.”

Other companies like 7th Heaven and Scharffen Berger continue to tap into the plant-based alternative category with their respective lines of vegan chocolates.

Another trend seen at the show was brand collaborations, which continue to capture consumer interest. Notable partnerships making their debut include another partnership between Ferrero North America and the Coca-Cola Co. Their 2019 partnership brought consumers Coca-Cola-flavored Tic Tacs, and both companies are continuing that theme with Sprite-flavored Tic Tacs.

Another partnership that had the show floor buzzing was between Link Snacks, Inc.’s Jack Link’s brand and PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division. Jack Link’s partnered with Doritos to launch spicy sweet chili-flavored beef jerky, which won the Most Innovative New Product Award for the meat snacks category.

Aside from trending new product introductions, the Sweets & Snacks Expo show itself was on attendees’ minds, as it was announced this would be the last show to take place in Chicago, which has hosted Sweets & Snacks for 26 years. Starting in 2024, the National Confectioners Association will move the show between Indianapolis and Las Vegas until 2032.

“It’s kind of an interesting moment — it’s an inflection moment for us here in Chicago in 2023, because we’re moving on,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, senior vice president of public affairs and communications at the National Confectioners Association. “We’re going to move to new host cities in a two-year rotation over the next 10 years.”

Click to view new products from the 2023 Sweets & Snacks Expo.