ISM and ProSweets draw diverse international audience
This week’s ISM and ProSweets have just come to a close in Cologne and have certainly proved particularly memorable for a number of reasons, but primarily the sheer range of new and diverse products out there from around the world which have underlined that the sector is very much thriving in spite of wider challenges.
On a personal level, the chance to see so many contacts from right across the industry was also a major bonus, and a timely reminder that live events are well and truly back again after an immensely challenging couple of years that impacted on all aspects of our lives in a manner that could not possibly have been predicted.
While it’s fair to say that this year’s attendance numbers may not have yet quite matched what had been achieved before the pre-pandemic peaks, there was certainly plenty of optimism in the aisles, as buyers and manufacturers from across the globe mingled once more, discussing core trends and topics that are making an impact on the sector.
The annual awards also placed a further valuable spotlight on levels of innovation for the industry, with the overall winner being a German business producing what might seem an unlikely product – a no added sugar candy floss, which by all accounts appears to have been very well received by its intended audience. There were also plenty of other significant trends on show, including a rising number of alternative ingredients being in evidence, such as protein-enhanced confectionery and sports nutrition bars, as well as plant-based options and companies catering for other market segments, including the equally fast developing Keto market.
Notably, there was a strong presence from businesses outside of Europe, including a return for the Brazilian pavilion, which as Andrea Ferrari of the country’s Abicab trade organisation pictured main image, noted, had enjoyed a strong performance at this year’s event, with a total of nine businesses present from the country.
Also, for the first time in three years, there were also a notable number of Chinese exhibitors at the event, which had not been a possibility during the pandemic. Having explored some of their stands, there were indeed some intriguing novelties out there – including one remarkable lollipop series that plays music as you eat the innovative sweet.
From speaking to many companies about the event, many noted that the April date is well beyond traditional buying periods for the confectionery industry, yet most accepted that the reasons for its delay – the energy crisis, inflation and pressures faced from the ongoing war in Ukraine, had collectively required a reposition of the show to this month.
It was held alongside ProSweets in condensed format, which itself threw up some interesting trends, though from the majority of those I encountered, there was a prevailing sense that the return to its traditional dates at the start of January, allowing a return to a full-size hall as has been typical, rather than the compact boulevard stands seen this week, will be the best way forward.
But all-in-all, there were many positives from the past few days that have demonstrated a resilient industry that has plenty going for it, proving that while there may be some testing times out there, the world still needs a treat or two, whether that’s a conventional range, or one of the many better-for-you options that are now making waves among the industry.
Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production
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