After over two years, SNAXPO21 brought the snack industry back together for two days of learning, networking and innovation. Over 900 snack producers and suppliers gathered once again to do business, connect and grow together.
SNAXPO21 featured two Keynote Breakfasts, an Opening Party at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, four education sessions, a reimagined sweet and savory Flavor Pavilion competition, the Circle of Honor Award presentation, and valuable time on the show floor to source all of the latest industry equipment, flavors and packaging.
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Members meeting with new and old friends at the SNAXPO21 New Member Reception.
Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR, gave attendees the opportunity to see real NASCAR race cars up close and learn about the history of the sport at the Opening Party held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
SNAXPO allows attendees to see the latest innovative equipment and watch state-of-the-art machinery in action.
SNAXPO21 featured three Innovation Stage presentations covering key topics like sustainable packaging, sustainable on-pack labeling for soybeans, and artisanal and industrial pellet production. Above, Todd Fayne, discusses the need for both recyclable and biodegradable packaging.
SNAXPO offers attendees a closer look at the latest snack industry flavors, seasoning and ingredient trends.
(L to R) Ryan Kerstetter, Dmitriy Grushevskiy, and Sanjay Amin, Mamata Enterprises Inc.
Circle of Honor Recipient Barry Levin, CEO, Snak King.
In LC America’s Innovation Stage presentation, Carly Rain Adams, R&D Manager discusses Artisan and Industrial Pellet Production: Meeting Your Needs Over Your Expectations.
SNAXPO offers valuable time on the show floor to allow suppliers and snack makers
to meet face-to-face.
SnackPAC, SNAC’s political action committee, held a reception featuring David Wasserman, Senior Editor, U.S. House of Representatives, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
(L to R) Fernando Garza, Carlos Caballero, Ada Williams, Armando Nunez, and Carlos Stagnaro, Palmex Alimentos.
Attendees celebrated a successful SNAXPO21 at the Closing Party.
Kicking off the SNAXPO Keynote Session on Monday morning, August 23, Barry Levin was inducted into the prestigious Circle of Honor for his outstanding contributions to the association and the snack industry. In 1979, at age 21, Barry accepted an offer to manage a one-year-old, financially challenged pork rind manufacturing plant for absentee owners. Within the first year, Barry and his two fellow employees were able to make the company profitable.
Shortly thereafter, Barry had the opportunity to buy into the company, and over the following five years he purchased the balance of the stock. Snak King began by producing a single item out of a 1,200 square foot facility and now manufactures over 950 SKU’s with over 1,000 associates in California and Illinois. Barry has been a strong supporter and leader of the Association from his early days in the industry. He served as Western Regional President in 1992 and as Chairman of the Board in 2001-2002. He also served as Chairman of SNAC’s Executive Leadership Forum Committee in 2006.
“Congratulations to Barry Levin and the entire Snak King family on this outstanding honor,” said Elizabeth Avery, President & CEO, SNAC International. “Barry is a terrific leader, entrepreneur, and all-around special person. His extensive contributions to the snack industry and to the Association continue today.”
Watch the video commemorating Barry Levin’s induction into the Circle of Honor here.
Congrats to the Snak King team and Barry Levin, CEO on being inducted into the prestigious Circle of Honor.
Barry Levin, Snak King and SNAC International Chairman Rob Sarlls, President & CEO, Wyandot Snacks.
New this year, the fourth annual Flavor Pavilion featured two distinct categories of flavors: sweet and savory. Attendees sampled and voted for their favorite flavors, and the top vote-getters took home the Flavor of the Year Awards. Gamay Food Ingredients took home the Savory Award with its Spicy Pho Seasoning, and Elite Spice won the Sweet Award for its Mocha Latte flavor.
“Among a long list of factors fueling growth in snacking, taste consistently reigns supreme,” said Elizabeth Avery, President and CEO, SNAC International. “It is wonderful to see such innovative and forward-leaning flavors from our members that participated in this much anticipated contest.”
Read more here.
Elite Spice won back-to-back honors, this year winning Sweet Flavor of the Year for its Mocha Latte flavor.
Gamay Food Ingredients won Savory Flavor of the Year for its Spicy Pho seasoning.
SNAC unveiled details about SNX, a forum designed to spark dialogue, innovation and growth, helping members build deeper relationships across the entire supply chain. Beginning in 2022, SNX and SNAXPO will take place on an every-other-year rotation, offering complementary but distinctly different events to deliver value to all industry stakeholders. SNX will feature three structured areas for supplier/producer collaboration: Supplier Suites, Experience Zones, and the Education Arena. Learn more about the event and become a Participating Supplier.
The Heat and Control team getting excited about SNX!
SNAXPO’s educational program kicked off with a longstanding crowd favorite, Sally Lyons Wyatt, EVP, Client Insights, IRI. With the average consumer snacking five or more times a day, snack sales continue to surpass pre-pandemic levels. Consumers are snacking more than ever, especially millennials and Generation Z. Lyons Wyatt is predicting that the snack category will grow 3-4% in 2021.
Lyons Wyatt took a closer look at snacking dynamics and examined the snack attributes consumers are demanding, such as sustainable ingredients and variety in packaging size to satisfy both on-the-go and at-home snacking occasions. While consumers remain health conscious and curious about new seasonings and ingredients, they are also comforted by familiar flavors and textures, making true indulgence popular as the pandemic persists. Additionally, after analyzing over 200 new products, IRI determined sweet flavors are outnumbering savory flavors with options like fruit, maple and nut butters winning with consumers.
From a retail channel perspective, savory snacks are up 32% online compared to 7% in stores. Lyons Wyatt emphasized that category mix and rank vary when comparing brick-and-mortar to online dollar sales making it pertinent to diversify sales strategies. To capture consumers, companies need to identify ways to target four snacking occasions: planned trips to the store, impulse trips, on-demand and experiential purchasing. Because 51% of consumers look for authentic or unique snacking experiences, brands must create unique experiences and build excitement both in store and online to attract and retain customers. Companies can also invest in paid search, social media and shopping apps aligned to key product attributes and nutritional benefits to build online presence.
Following Sally Lyons Wyatt, Peter Sheahan, Founder & Group CEO, Karrikins Group discussed harnessing market disruption and leaders aligning behind change. Sheahan inspired attendees by exploring how to anticipate market transformation and how owning change creates action and vigor. He also emphasized that sustained change is, above all, a psychological journey.
By cultivating a creative environment designed to take risks, companies can align their mission and values toward a new, progressive way of thinking and doing. According to Sheahan, the primary barrier for company growth is the leader’s fear and lack of beliefs. The role of a leader is to drive innovation by taking the company from one competitive advantage to the next.
Sheahan highlighted that with the right mindset, team dynamics and environment, leaders can intentionally curate a culture that values innovation over perfection, accelerating growth and putting your company ahead.
SNAC International Chairman Rob Sarlls, President & CEO, Wyandot, kicked off the final day of SNAXPO by sharing reflections about the past 18 months.
“There has been serious disruption in people’s lives, accelerated transformation of already underlying trends – a loss of sense of what is “normal” – and uncertainty around the future,” Sarlls said. “But we do as an industry have a lot for which to be thankful.”
Sarlls discussed overarching industry trends, including the fact that consumers are snacking more than ever.
“People turn to snacking for comfort, and the pandemic has transformed kitchens across the U.S. into – and get this – “giant vending machines”.
While the growth of snacking should be celebrated, the support SNAC members have shown to those in need throughout the pandemic should also be honored. Sarlls presented examples of how the industry stepped up and took action on initiatives like fighting hunger, supporting Wounded Warriors, helping children with medical or developmental needs, and much more.
“I am very proud of all our members who have consistently and increasingly stepped up to support those in need, in normal times and in crisis times, and to advance the causes need to make a world better for everyone”
Rob Sarlls then welcomed Charlotte Mayor Vi Alexander Lyles to the stage, who thanked attendees for visiting Charlotte for SNAXPO and discussed recent growth and initiatives in the city.
Tuesday’s Keynote Breakfast Session featured a wide-ranging discussion with Val Oswalt, President, Campbell Snacks, who was joined on-stage by Mayor Lyles. SNAC President & CEO, Elizabeth Avery, served as moderator.
Below recap excerpted from coverage by Baking & Snack’s Charlotte Atchley, here.
Valerie Oswalt, President, Campbell Snacks and Vi Alexander Lyles, Mayor of Charlotte, NC are getting creative when it comes to workforce development. Oswalt and Lyles spoke to the ways Campbell’s is partnering with local government and incentivizing employees.
The changing priorities of the available workforce as well social deficiencies exacerbated by the pandemic have companies partnering with local governments, like Charlotte, NC, to recruit employees. Campbell Snacks has a large footprint in Charlotte, with an office, one of its fastest growing manufacturing facilities and a major warehouse totaling more than 1,600 employees all in the Greater Charlotte area. The city of Charlotte’s business retention team developed an apprenticeship program that works with the community college to develop training programs that enable people to move immediately into a workplace.
“We have people in this community — primarily black and brown people — who don’t have the education or resource to participate in the economy, and it’s the city’s goal to increase their participation by training and education in a targeted way that people can see a result,” Lyles explained. “It’s no good to say, ‘Go to school and come out, and then find a job.’ We are changing that paradigm to ‘we have a job, and we will train you for it.’”
Beyond training, some of the needs to entice employees can be very practical, such as transportation, another way the public sector in Charlotte is trying to bring people to work. Lyles described affordable transportation as the third leg of the stool to lift people out of poverty: a decent place to live, sustainable pay and a way to get to work.
Oswalt and Lyles are also passionate about another dimension of the workforce challenge: supporting women and people of color in the workplace. This often means employers need to provide more flexibility and practical support to their workforce.
Referencing the work she’s doing as a EdD candidate at the University of Southern California, Oswalt described the trajectory of how women fall out of the workforce. While 50% of the workforce coming out of college are women, the percentage of women at every step of the ladder decreases: 30% at mid-level, 20% at senior level and only 6% of Fortune 500 companies having female chief executive officers. She attributed this to many different obstacles women encounter from the societal challenges of bias, institutional roadblocks like lack of flexibility at work or even individual obstacles like lack of mentors.
“If you’re surrounded by like people, you only get the same result,” Oswalt said. “Diversity brings different perspectives and opportunities, and you’ll learn more about your workforce. When you think about how agile we need to be now, diverse teams solve problems better and quicker. It’s more important now than ever.”
(L to R) Elizabeth Avery, President & CEO, SNAC International interviewed Val Oswalt, President, Campbell’s Snacks and Charlotte Mayor Vi Alexander Lyles on the greatest opportunities and challenges facing the snack category, Campbells Snacks’ business priorities, supply chain and workforce challenges and the importance of fostering women in leadership.
NielsenIQ’s Carlos Ordoñez and Alejandro Prieto discussed current snacking trends and examined what consumer behavior in the region means for snack industry retailers and manufacturers.
In summarizing the coronavirus (COVID-19) effect on the economy, Prieto said that 49% Latin American consumers were personally impacted by the pandemic compared to 32% of people globally. Specifically, 36% of Latin Americans surveyed reported that COVID affected their jobs compared to 16% of global respondents. (Dan Malovany, Baking & Snack.)
In an impacted economy, many consumers in Latin America shop for bargains, choose stores based on their proximity and are less loyal to brands often preferring private label. After consumer spending dropped in 2020, 2021 is seeing a surge in snack sales as the economy slowly recovers and small, nimble, local manufacturers boost snack performance accounting for 50% of total food sales.
Consumer spending in brick-and-mortar stores continues to increase with a return to more mobile lifestyles and brands’ commitment to reduce prices and increase package sizes. According to NielsenIQ, extruded snacks (+32%) and potato chips (+17%) are contributing the most to these changes.
Prieto emphasized that 56% of consumers are looking to buy new and exciting snacks during the pandemic. Consumers also take into account the entire snacking experience when considering a product, including: 1) the taste such as flavors and textures; 2) the experience such as the occasion or value added to their lives; and 3) the feeling as it relates to purpose or health.
Carlos Ordonez and Alejandro Prieto, NielsenIQ
Below recap excerpted from coverage by Baking & Snack’s Michelle Smith, here.
Creating a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace means that people must understand their limitations and be open to new points of view, the panelists at the “Creating an Inclusive Culture” agreed at SNAXPO21.
“You can only see from where you stand,” said Cathy Harrell, founder and consultant of DreamVision Diversity and Inclusion Consultants, who moderated the panel presented by Women in Snacks. “I believe that holds true on so many different levels but especially for diversity, equity and inclusion. We all use our own life experiences — that filter — to gather information, to understand it, and to move in the world around us.”
Shannan Redcay, Senior Vice President of Productivity and Development at Utz Brands, Inc. agreed and added that company leaders need to keep in mind that they don’t know everything.
“So how do I acknowledge that’s a limitation of my knowledge?” she asked. “How do I start to seek a difference of opinion? How do I start to not put my own assumptions onto other parties and instead really start to learn from them firsthand? I think that then starts to translate into a lack of expectation that everyone does things the same way I would. Once that starts to permeate through the organization, it starts to build the broader culture.”
It’s a welcoming culture for all viewpoints that will move things forward for companies seeking people with diverse thoughts and backgrounds. And that culture must begin with leadership or it will not permeate throughout the company, Harrell said.
“If the leadership is not inclusive, if they are not open to this, it will just keep churning,” she said.
Diversification is not always easy and being open to new ideas can challenge leaders and employees, but it’s crucial to keeping companies strong, the panelists agreed.
“You have to want that diversity of opinion,” Ms. Redcay said. “You have to be comfortable with it, and you have to be comfortable with the challenge that comes with that.”
It’s easy to get stuck in a mindset, thinking that everyone thinks like you do, said Lisa Stern, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at LifeSpice.
“You need to step outside of your comfort zone and start looking at ‘Who am I? Who is my company? Where are we going and what do we need to add to get there?’ ” she said. “That will help you become more diverse.”
Mike Harper, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Finance, at Rudolph Foods said companies must first figure out where they stand in creating a diverse and inclusive environment, then set goals.
“Think about your companies and how much money you spend to understand the market and the people you sell to,” he said. “Imagine if we made the same effort to understand the people that we want to hire, the people that we want to be in our company, the people that we want to help create that diversity. We really have to understand where we’re at so we can start to begin that journey.”
(L to R) Shannan Redcay, Utz Brands Inc; Lisa Stern, LifeSpice; Mike Harper, Rudolph Foods; and panel moderator Cathy Harrell, DreamVision Diversity and Inclusion Consultants.
Lynn Dornblaser, Director, Innovation & Insight, Mintel examined what U.S. consumers are looking for when it comes to flavors, the flavors they’d like to try, those that are a bit “tired,” and what’s out there to draw consumers in to new snack offerings.
In the midst of a global pandemic, consumers are looking to spice up their every day lives with new, bold flavors such as goji berry, kimchi and maca. Consumers under 55, especially those 25-34, are most likely to say they seek out new flavors most of the time. Along with flavors, consumers are hungry to try innovative base ingredients such as pumpkin seeds, cauliflower and seaweed. According to Mintel, consumers are more likely to try new, crazy flavors if the base is simple and familiar.
Consumers also enjoy their tried-and-true flavors, with 53% of consumers preferring simple flavors. Cheddar, plain salt and BBQ are the most consumed snack flavors according to Mintel. Unique base ingredients, paired with more familiar flavors, may work for consumers looking to try something a bit different, but not too wild.
Using his background in food technology and his comprehensive understanding of the laws governing the food industry, Martin Hahn, Partner, Hogan Lovells and SNAC International Counsel
helped attendees navigate through pressing regulatory and business issues impacting the snack industry, including bioengineered food disclosure, Proposition 65, the definition of ‘Healthy’, and sodium reduction.
To view the full presentation, visit SNAC Member Resources, here.
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“I enjoyed the interaction with other professionals in the industry. The speakers and education sessions were great. The speakers were a great combination of inspirational as well as informative. The WinS (Women in Snacks), Val Oswalt and Peter Sheehan sessions were the most inspiring to me.”
Julie Calef, Controller, Old Dutch Foods
“High points of SNAXPO include the opportunity to meet new suppliers that we have not seen before. Additionally, face to face interaction, tasting the products, feeling textures, smelling aromas, and getting all our questions resolved in one place is very important.”
Gustavo Cardona, Owner, Tortimeals
“The education sessions were excellent. All the networking activities were also very good. I was very pleased with all the safety measures in place.”
Ramiro Fernandez, Senior VP & CFO, Herr Foods
“Member Reception was very thoughtful. Everyone was so warm and welcoming – the expo floor and networking were much easier than other massive, less personal expos. The education sessions were wonderful – especially appreciate the focuses on trends and women in snacking.”
Angela Rodela, Marketing and Innovation Director, Sigma Alimentos
“A few highlights were high quality leads, time to make connections with new people and re-connect, good array of companies across the industry, good location and well laid out, and the meals were excellent quality.”
Lee Stapleton, NC Site Director, Sensory Spectrum
“The networking events were excellent. Great opportunity to meet with some of the key players in the snack industry that we wanted to see.”
Blaine Yost, VP, Sales, American Packaging Corporation