Sweets & Snacks Expo 2024

Chocolate brands cash in on America’s largest candy and snack trade show

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

All roads lead to Indianapolis this year for the 2024 Sweets & Snacks Expo. Pic: CN
All roads lead to Indianapolis this year for the 2024 Sweets & Snacks Expo. Pic: CN

Related tags Sweets & Snacks Expo Candy Confectionery Chocolate Nca

The 2024 Sweets & Snacks Expo became a launch pad for companies looking to crack the US confectionery market with new products from Colombia’s Vivamor, Canada’s Lovo Chocolate, along with reboots of classic brand Godiva and a new partnership deal for Divine Chocolate.

Vivamor chocolate

vivamor2 expo 24 CN
Colombia's Vivamor took viisitors on a journey around Latin America with its new chocolate bars. Pic: CN

Annalise Iwen, brand marketing manager for Vivamor, said Grupo Nutersa’s new B2C chocolate bar, which will officially launch in the US later this year, is designed to fill a “really big gap” in the premium market.

Like the Group’s B2B company, Chocolate Cordillera, which also had a presence for the first time at the Expo, the chocolate is made with sustainable, premium cocoa from Latin America.

“We pay our cacao farmers the highest price in the region. Typically in Africa, up to 40 to 50% of the price goes to the farmer, whereas in Colombia, 90% goes directly to the farmers - and we're helping replace illicit, illegal crops with cacao grown by farmers,” said Iwen.

The six bars in the portfolio are inspired by different countries in the region, each with its own distinct flavours and ingredients.

The impressive packaging design will also resonate with discerning consumers when the collection becomes available in stores across the US in September.

“We're getting really positive feedback at the Expo,” said Iwen. “People that have sampled our chocolate at our booth have picked up on the more fruity and floral flavours, and it’s like we are taking them on a journey through Latin America with the different types of chocolate.

“It’s a bold, vibrant brand with a serious chocolate offer backed with sophisticated marketing. We want to be that differentiator in the marketplace to stand out.”

Godiva

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Godiva's new Heritage Gold collection. Pic: Godiva

The premium Belgium brand has a rich heritage stretching back more than 100 years. With the recent announcement that it is now under the umbrella of pladis​, the company is using its presence at the Expo to reboot US sales with a new classic collection.

“We want to make sure that whatever we bring to the market is the best chocolate available for US consumers,” said Carlos Canals, pladis Americas managing director.

“We're going to fine-tune the distribution of the brand. We still want to make it available to as many people as possible but in the right channels, at the right price, and with the right product.

“So we've taken a little step back to make sure that we build a distribution in the right way so that whatever is present … is in the right place with the right product at the right price.”

Canals and his team went back to Godiva’s roots, locked themselves in a room at the Belgium factory with marketing and R&D members, and, in five hours, came up with the genesis for the new ‘Heritage’ collection.

With a classic art-deco packaging design, the chocolate is also produced the old-fashioned way, to create the purest kind of chocolate with fewer ingredients but more flavour.

“Godiva has a style and a rich story, which we hope to tell with this collection. Some have been available in Europe, but all the chocolates are new for the US,” said Canals.

“We brought it to the show and selectively showed it to a couple of premium customers, and they're very excited.”

Lovo chcolate

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Lovo brought new innovations in oatmilk chocolate to the Expo. Pic: CN

Lovo Vegan Chocolate launched in 2023 to fill a gap in the market for dairy-free milk chocolate.

Sales manager Cay Compres said it was difficult to achieve a good consistency with plant-based milk and chocolate, which is why the Canadian company sourced its chocolate from Switzerland.

“I think sometimes people are scared to try oat milk chocolate because they think it won't taste creamy or chocolatey enough … but that's exactly why we went to Switzerland. The Swiss created chocolate, so if anyone's going to get it right, it will be there, and they did.”

Compres said there has been huge interest in Lovo at the Expo, and consumers can expect to see more of the brand in gourmet stores across the US.

Divine Chocolate

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Divine Chocolate had a stronger presence at this year's Expo. Pic: CN

Fairtrade Farmer cooperative-owned Divine Chocolate has been around for more than 25 years but is increasing its footprint in the US, especially with a new partnership with Euro-American Brands launched at this year’s Expo.

“The partnership means that at events like this, you become part of the game and you meet with their sales customers and we work together and I'm able to utilise their internal resources also,” said Troy Pearley, Divine Chocolate’s North America General Manager.

“The brand awareness is certainly growing in the States … since Covid consumers are becoming more conscious of how they spend their money. It's been a benefit to Divine because of what the brand represents regarding farmer ownership, and the brand is moving in the right direction regarding what consumers are seeking and looking for now.

Pearley said Divine also used the opportunity at Sweets & Snacks to refresh product lines, including the popular Crispy Thins in dark and milk chocolate with new packaging designs.

Expo update

Speaking on the final day of the Expo, Carly Schildhaus, Director of Public Affairs & Communications at organisers, the National Confectioners Association, said: “This has been such a successful and record-breaking show with 1,000 exhibitors and 16,000 attendees and over 250,000 square feet of the show floor. We are so grateful to be welcomed back to Indianapolis with such incredible Hoosier hospitality.”

She also confirmed that the Expo can now expand: "We will be excited to continue to welcome new exhibitors and more attendees when it returns to Indianapolis next year.”

Related topics Manufacturers Confectionery Colombia

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