Sweets & Snacks Expo Product Showcases Honey’s Versatility

Salty Snacks cropped

The Sweets & Snacks Expo may be blowing out of the Windy City, but honey’s staying power shone through at the convention’s 2023 Featured Product Showcase.

Honey Shines as Better-For-You Ingredient

Better-for-you snacks and confections aren’t defined necessarily by category, but by characteristics, and honey’s all-natural capabilities certainly made it an ingredient to watch on the show floor. The Expo’s annual Featured Product Showcase is a staple of the show, and the honey-sweetened products displayed in this year’s exhibit epitomized what Nathan Johnson, Hershey’s BFY Marketing Director, said in his Better For You Confection Trends talk: It’s time to debunk the myth of the oxymoron that better-for-you doesn't equate in this category.

There’s a significant untapped better-for-you demand, especially in confectionery, Johnson said. Honey’s all-natural functional properties, paired with great flavor and familiarity, help shoppers who both want to indulge yet balance overall wellness in these sweets and snacks.

Honey Dijon Baked Navy Bean Snacks, Harvest Snaps
A Most Innovative New Product Awards Finalist, this snack is made with farm-picked navy beans and honey dijon baked in for a tangy-sweet flavor. Categorized as a better-for-you snack, Harvest Snaps’ offering is packed with plant protein and fiber, and is preservative-free.

Photo Credit: Harvest Snaps
Photo Credit: Niagara Chocolates

Honey Almond Cold Brew, Niagara Chocolates
Experience an irresistible honey-sweetened confection with a roasted, blended and brewed indulgence. Freshness and flavor are the essence of these nutty handcrafted bars, which are sustainably sourced with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa.

Bison and Pork Sticks - Honey BBQ, ICON Meats
Also a finalist for a Most Innovative New Product Award, these honey-sweetened sticks are regenerative and natural, minimally processed with clean ingredients. There’s no gluten, no MSG, no nitrates, and this rancher-owned meat snack is shelf stable.

Photo Credit: ICON Meats

Comfort in Retro

David Banks said in Bell Flavors’ Bold Flavor Trends in Snacking educational session that consumers like “a little bit of weird mixed with the familiar.” There’s no denying that honey is a comforting, familiar sweetener for consumers who are also ready to take on new products that provide a few key aspects:

  • New flavor twists
  • New functional or nutritional label ingredients mixed with all-natural solutions
  • Sustainability and cultural awareness claims

We found a few honey-sweetened products with a twist:

Photo Credit: Planters

Milk Chocolate Bark with Honey Roasted Peanuts, Planters
Everyone recognizes the iconic Planters Peanut with the honey dipper on the packaging. Once enticed, consumers will then find they can have the product they know and love in a new way: interwoven into a deliciously sweet milk chocolate bark.

Bit-O-Honey Honey Chews, Spangler Candy
Debuting new packaging at Sweets & Snacks Expo, these naturally sweet taffy treats are a nostalgic and beloved brand with a refreshed look. Made with honey and roasted almond bits, the classic honey-flavored chew is now a part of a modern renaissance on store shelves, positioned to treat consumers one “bit” at a time.

Photo Credit: Spangler Candy

We want to hear from you! Which of these new snacks are YOU most excited to try?