Chicago is home to the National Confectioners Association's annual Sweets & Snacks Expo, but confections are a part of the Illinois lifestyle all year long, writes NCA President John Downs. The state ships $1.5 billion worth of chocolates, candy, gum and mints per year from such Windy City-area companies as Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, Tootsie Roll Industries, Primrose Candy Company, World’s Finest Chocolate, Ferrara Candy Company and Haribo.
"Food-minus" products, including snacks with reduced fat, calories or sugar, boosted new product launches last year, according to Mintel. Gluten-free and trans fats-free products were especially popular.
E.W. James & Sons is shutting down its Lexington, Ky., operations, where it operated three groceries. The Tennessee-based retailer acquired 10 former Winn-Dixie stores in Kentucky in 2004 but closed all of them.
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. opened its $45-million, 153,000-square-foot Global Innovations Center Tuesday in Chicago. The facility includes the company's first in-house consumer testing lab and a 40,000-square-foot pilot plant. New products comprise almost 20% of the company's $4 billion in global sales, and president Bill Wrigley Jr. reports China and Russia represent their fastest growing markets.