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Sweets & Snacks Expo to return to Indy

Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops discussed the move during the NCA’s annual State of the Industry Conference in Florida. (photo courtesy of the National Confectioners Association)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The National Confectioners Association has announced its annual Sweets & Snacks Expo will return to Indianapolis after the city hosted the event in 2021. Beginning in 2024, the NCA will start a rotation of hosting the event at the Indiana Convention Center for two years, followed by one year at the Las Vegas Convention Center until 2032. “The decision to move to Indianapolis and Las Vegas was driven primarily by growth and our needs for growth for the future,” said NCA Chief Executive Officer John Downs.

During a media conference call Tuesday, Downs said last year’s event was a major factor in moving to a rotation cycle for hosting

“When we moved out of Chicago and moved to Indianapolis in 2021, it opened up our eyes in terms of Indianapolis’ attraction and the ease of getting in from the airport to the city,” said Downs. “It was an experience that everyone really enjoyed and, you know, we’ve always been the Midwest focus. We examined a lot of different other cities as well, and the idea came up that we would think about a rotation.”

The Sweets & Snacks Expo features hundreds of vendors from the confectionery and snack industries, and includes new product launches, networking opportunities and merchandising innovations.

The event was moved to Indianapolis in 2021 due to pandemic-related restrictions in its longtime home of Chicago. Approximately 8,000 attendees descended on Indy for the event, which generated an estimated $8.5 million in economic impact.

Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops says the success of the 2021 event led to further discussions with Governor Eric Holcomb, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Downs to possibly have Indianapolis host future expos.

“[Indy] was designed to do this and I think that’s where NCA and its board and its members looked and said, ‘We can really grow here,’” said Hoops. “When you take over a convention in Indianapolis, you’re really taking over all of downtown Indy, and that’s what makes it such a unique venue.”

During the call, Hoops said the Indiana Convention Center, as well as Lucas Oil Stadium, provides plenty of growth opportunities for the Sweets & Snacks Expo. He also cited the city’s plan to break ground this fall on an 800-room, 40-story Signia by Hilton hotel and an additional 120,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

Downs said in addition to keeping the show in the Midwest, the NCA looked at other cities in the western U.S. where it doesn’t currently run any events.

“That would be an opportunity for us to attract different attendees and so, we did some due diligence with our retail customers who have big footprints west of the Mississippi,” said Downs. “We looked at different cities in the west as well [such as] Anaheim, San Diego, etc. So, the feedback we got from the retailers was to say, ‘Hey, our experience in Las Vegas was really great.’ That’s how this all came about.”

The 2022 and 2023 events will take place in Chicago. Downs says the NCA’s goal is to return to pre-pandemic levels with 18,000 attendees from around 90 countries, as well as 800 exhibitors.