We have been on the road a fair amount in 2019 to industry events and trade shows. A new one for us, Sweets and Snacks Expo, took place in Chicago May 21-23 at McCormick Place with an estimated 15,000 people in attendance. Snacking has continued to carve out its own daypart as consumers of all ages (yes, younger generations at a more significant pace) are turning toward a more frequent and convenient eating lifestyle. We saw how this is playing out in the $86 billion market of snack ($51 billion) and confectionary ($35 billion) first-hand.
STAND OUT BOOTHS
A colleague with prior Sweets and Snacks Expo experience dubbed the show “like Trick or Treating for adults”. I have to agree. I also have to admit that in many cases, I’d take the “trick” over the treat if that’s what the booths were intended to deliver. The quality of the booths at this food show stood out more than any I’ve been to when it came to experience and creativity.
It isn’t too surprising that many of the same trends we shared from Natural Products Expo West the past couple of years are making their way into mainstream CPG products. Plant-Based, Adventurous Flavors, and Fats + Fads (think: anti-sugar, and proliferation of Keto-friendly) were all prominent themes throughout the show. It was interesting to see how these themes showed up in both legacy products and newer formats.
We’ll continue to expect rapid innovation from this category. Not only due to the fact that it’s quickly becoming a dominant daypart but also because it’s inherently a factor required for brands to remain relevant. When new products account for nearly 5% of sales in snacks and over 6% in confectionary as compared to 3% in overall consumer packaged goods, it’s a great place to turn for inspiration in product, format and overall brand experiences.
Last month we kicked off the JTM Scale Series – a monthly post dedicated to sharing some of what we’re seeing in the local food and beverage start-up scene. This is the start of the 15th season of the Minnesota Cup, the largest and most impactful statewide start-up competition in the country. Connecting emerging entrepreneurs with tools, resources and support to further new ventures, there is a lot of momentum going into this year’s competition.
SO, WHAT’S HAPPENING?
At the end of May, the semi-finalists for each of the nine divisions were announced. A total of 88 teams will continue on the path to compete for their share of $500,000 in prize money – not to mention incredible mentorship, connections and in-kind sponsorships along the way. As active participants in the Food, Agriculture and Beverage division, we were excited to meet the entrepreneurs and see elevator pitches from each of the teams this past Thursday, June 6th.
- Atlas Provisions, Ramsey, Woman-led
- Bootlegger Brewing Kombucha, Dakota
- Curly Girlz Candy, Inc., Steele, Woman-led
- GroShed LLC, Crow Wing, Veteran-led
- Hoyo, SBC, Hennepin, Minority-Led, Woman-Led
- Nexyst 360, Benton
- Nutraphagia (dba the EAT Bar), Hennepin, Woman-Led
- Planet Princess Foods, Ramsey, Woman-Led
- Revitalyte, Hennepin
- Sanos Nutrition, Hennepin, Minority-Led
The turnout to the event itself was strong – the auditorium at the Carlson School of Management was packed with an engaged audience. A combination of judges, mentors, other entrepreneurs, and general enthusiasts filled the seats which made for a high-energy platform. With just one minute each, the live pitches were a perfect glimpse into the story behind the business and a quick opportunity to “give a face to the name” of the entrepreneur. The semi-finalists in our division represent a wide range of products and solutions and they maximized their 60 seconds. I have to say, I walked away pretty excited about what I saw within the top 10!
Over the next 60 days, the semi-finalists will be in the thick of the season – getting paired with local mentors (one of the benefits most highly spoken of by past participants), working on their next round of submission materials and taking part in education seminars offered through the program. The next milestone is August 22, where the the top 10 semi-finalists will compete in a division-wide “Pitch Slam”. During the event, JTM will announce the recipient for this years’ JTM Scale award, $25,000 of advertising expertise and brand development resources in an effort to help propel one of these great brands forward. We’re excited to see how this season shapes up – so far, it’s looking like it will be pretty fierce!