Despite a lack of visitors numbers, ISM and ProSweets offer hope for 2022

As I walked into the empty press office of the ISM and ProSweets events at the start of this week, it was hard not to imagine I hadn’t wandered into a strange B2B parallel universe where Confectionery Production was the only title covering the sector.

Casting an eye around the room, the normally bustling environment with banks of industry titles and computers set aside for the use of visiting journalists from around the world, were entirely absent amid the ongoing pandemic.

With coronavirus figures in Germany having run at record levels last week (seemingly near a peak at around 200,000 cases a day), there was perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising that few media representatives from around the world had seemingly made the journey to Cologne.

Just a matter of weeks ago, few, if any of us were really sure if either ISM or ProSweets would in fact be happening. But happen they have – and while it’s undeniably the case that its vast halls only feel around a third full in terms of visitor numbers, there’s been a commendable sense of resilience displayed by those who have ventured forth.

The organising team at Koelnmesse have clearly tried to pull out all the stops to make the event as safe as possible, perhaps most obviously through the widening of its many aisles.

The uncertainty of conditions meant that some of the events’ most notable names have stayed home including the likes of Barry Callebaut, Schubert, Sollich, Ishida and Cama to name a few, who have clearly been missed, yet there have been a number of sector innovations on show that have proved intriguing.

After two years away, the general feeling seemed to be overwhelmingly one of a global industry that very much felt the need to get together personally – even if the customary stand parties were dispensed with in favour of a masked chat over a coffee during a lunch break.

Clearly, Covid remains a factor and this is reflected in one of the core themes of this year’s ISM in particular, which has seen a broad array of healthier option snacks and confectionery catering for the plant based market that is showing no signs of slowing any time soon.

While everyone I spoke to would wish to have seen the visitor numbers to be somewhat healthier, there was near universal agreement that the quality of attendees was in fact significantly high – perhaps simply because of the challenges of attending these shows under such challenging conditions. It will certainly be an experience I won’t forget in a hurry, and one which offered up some key highlights. Catch our next edition of the magazine to find out more.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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