Emergence of Omicron variant creates further global industry uncertainties

Researcher with blood sample of New Variant of the Covid-19 Omicron B.1.1.529 and generic data of covid-19 Coronavirus Mutations. Doctor in analysis lab holding sample of new strain of covid Omicron

Headlines around the world this past week has been all about the emergence of a certain new strain of coronavirus that has been designated as Omicron.

The deceptively named new variant, which sounds like it’s something most likely to have emerged Transformers’ movie, is threatening to extend the impact of the pandemic. As such must be viewed with particular caution until scientists are able to determine its exact makeup, and whether existing vaccines will be successful against it.

Just when we thought that we may have been on the final leg of our journey with this most challenging of global chapters over the past two years, we’re reminded that we’re sadly far from out of the woods with it all.

Governments, organisations and industries around the world have scrambled to react to this most unwelcome arrival, which has seemingly spread quickly, potentially impacting on a number of sectors including the events and hospitality sectors, that have already been especially hit by the crisis particularly badly.

In response, industry has been doggedly reacting in trying its upmost to continue with added hygiene measures, as seen with the FiEurope event in Frankfurt this week, yet inevitably, the situation is bound to impact on visitor numbers.

The confectionery industry is closely monitoring events in Germany as to whether ProSweets will continue as hoped for at the end of January. Consequently, the country’s outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, had reportedly pushed for a limited national lockdown last week, which would have lasted into December, and most likely thrown a number of events starting early in the New Year into jeopardy.

As it stands, ProSweets is still scheduled to go on, but with requirements for visitors to be vaccinated, or have tested negative, to gain entry to the event, with the uncertainty (through no fault of those behind the trade fair) already having prompted some of the event’s largest businesses not to exhibit this time around.

Ultimately, the next week or two will prove decisive, and should a national lockdown be averted, then in all likelihood, then a final green light to proceedings is on the horizon. Let’s hope that’s indeed the case, having not had the opportunity to meet many of our key contacts and friends from across the industry these past couple of years, which seems an awfully long time indeed.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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