How Sweet It Is! National Confectioners Association Names Most Innovative New Product Award Winners

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Hershey recognized for Best in Show; Buddah Brands Company takes home first-ever Small Business Innovator award

Recognizing the latest innovations in candy and snacks, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) announced its 2017 Most Innovative New Product Award winners. The delectable award winners – including those for Best in Show and the newly added Small Business Innovator – represent the most creative, innovative and fun products that the industry has to offer.

The winners were selected from nearly 370 new product award entries across nine candy and snack categories: chocolate; non-chocolate; sweet; salty; savory; novelty; seasonal; gourmet/premium; and gum & mints. Product submissions were rated based on four weighted criteria: taste, packaging, innovation and go-to market feasibility.

“The amount of innovation and creativity we have seen over the past six years of the award’s existence has gotten more sophisticated and highly competitive,” said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “Any product nominated during this process should be very proud. Submissions continue to grow by double digits each year which points to the important role innovation plays in the candy and snack categories.”

This year’s Best in Show award went to The Hershey Company for Reese’s Crunchers.

The judges presented the first Small Business Innovator Award to Montreal-based Buddah Brands Company for Hungry Buddah Probiotic Coconut Chips in Cheeky Chocolate.  This inaugural award recognizes companies with net sales under $500,000, giving them the opportunity to shine and gain recognition amongst with well-established peers.

This year’s nominees and winners are:

Chocolate Winner: MARS Chocolate North America – M&M’s Caramel Chocolate Candies

Nominees:
The Hershey Company – Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups
Mondelez International, Inc. – Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar
Ferrero USA, Inc. – Kinder Joy
Edward Marc Brands – Edward Marc Chocolatier Coconut Almonds with Dark Chocolate

Non-Chocolate Winner: Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme Gift Box

Nominees:
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Sweet Heat
Albanese Confectionery – Albanese World’s Best Sherbet Gummi Bears
Nestlé USA – SweeTARTS Whipped & Tangy
Just Born Quality Confections – MIKE & IKE SOUR-LICOUS Fruit Punch flavored candies

Sweet Snacks Winner: Nestlé USA – Nerds Lucha Grande – Mango Chile and Guava

Nominees:
Charms Company – Andes Creme de Menthe Snap Bar
Edward Marc Brands, Inc. – Snappers Milk Chocolate Caramel Macchiato Snappers
Setton Farms – Pistachios + Blueberry infused Cranberries & Coconut Chewy Bites
Brownie Brittle, LLC – Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt

Salty Snacks Winner: The Daily Crave – Gouda & Romano Cheese Quinoa Chips

Nominees:
TwistCheez – Hickory Smoke
Jack Link’s Beef Jerky – AM Hot and Spicy Breakfast Sausage
The Hershey Company – Hershey’s Popped Snack Mix
Twang Partners, LTD. – TWANGERZ Sriracha Salt

Savory Snacks Winner: Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. – Wholey Cheese! / Mild Cheddar

Nominees:
Alli & Rose – Tropical Fields Crunchy Seaweed Rice Bites
Chef’s Cut Real Jerky – Protein Packs – Real Steak Jerky, Original Recipe Cheddar Cheese
Hawaiian Host, Inc. – Mauna Loa Mango Chipotle Macadamias
goodnessKNOWS – Blueberry & Almond

Novelty/Licensed Winner: Ferrara Candy Co. TROLLI SOUR BRITE DIP’N CRAWLERS

Nominees:
Pez Candy, Inc. – Smurfs Gift Tin
Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Mixed Emotions
Galerie – Dylan’s Candy Bar Secret Message Lollipop
Jel Sert Company – Airheads White Mystery Freezer Bars

Seasonal Winner: Ghirardelli Chocolate Company – Ghirardelli Chocolate Strawberry Bark

Nominees:
Ferrara Candy Co. – Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers Minis Hairy Heart Gift Heart
Pez Candy, Inc. – Christmas Ornament with Mini Dispensers
Impact Confections, Inc. – WARHEADS – Chewy Bunnies – Assorted Flavors
The Matzo Project – Salted Matzo

Gourmet Winner: Las Olas Confections and Snacks – Anastasia Coconut Cashew Crunch Dark Chocolate Drizzle

Nominees:
Newfangled Confections – Frittle Candy – Original
Edward Marc Brands – Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Medallions
Bixby – Nutty For Me Bixby Bites
That’s How We Roll – Mrs. Thinster’s Cookie Thins Meyer Lemon

Gum & Mints Winner: Ferrero USA, Inc. – Tic Tac Gum Freshmint

Nominees:
Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc. – Airheads Gum, Watermelon
The Hershey Company – Breath Savers Protect
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Extra Chewy Mints
Mondelez International, Inc. – Purely Trident Peppermint

Innovation has long been a key component of the confectionery industry. Earlier this month, five leading global confectionery companies announced a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America to provide consumers with more information, options and support as they enjoy their favorite treats. Consumers can learn more about this initiative at the newly established AlwaysATreat.com. “The commitment recently announced by Mars Chocolate, Wrigley, Nestlé, Ferrero, Russell Stover, Lindt, Ghirardelli and Ferrara Candy Company to create more options in innovative packaging and products, and to educate consumers about how chocolate and candy can play a unique role in a happy, balanced lifestyle, is the first step on our journey to help consumers manage their sugar intake,” Downs said. “We’re so pleased that the panel of retail experts who are part of our awards panel recognized the leadership and innovation of these five companies in bringing new products to market.”

About the National Confectioners Association (NCA)
The National Confectioners Association is the trade organization that advances, protects and promotes chocolate, candy, gum and mints, and the companies that make these special treats. As the leading association for the $35 billion U.S. confectionery industry, NCA educates the public to help ensure that it understands and appreciates the unique role that chocolate and candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle. Confections are produced in all 50 states, creating jobs for approximately 55,000 workers in more than 1,000 manufacturing facilities across the country. More than 400,000 jobs in agriculture, retail, transportation and other industries rely in part on the sale of confections for their livelihood. For every one job that is created by confectionery companies, another seven are supported in related industries. Learn more about the “Power of Sweet” at CandyUSA.com, or follow NCA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Sweets & Snacks Expo
Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, the Sweets & Snacks Expo is the confectionery and snack industry’s most successful, world class event. It is unrivaled in new product launches, business building solutions and innovations in merchandising. 17,000 qualified professionals attend with global presence from 90 countries. More than 800 companies displaying more than 4 acres of candy and snack products participate in the Expo. The event is held each May at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Contact: Susan Whiteside, 202-441-3332, susan.whiteside@CandyUSA.com