A wealth of major releases seals success for global confectionery businesses at ISM
With an impressive delegation of global businesses attending this year’s ISM, there were plenty of stand-out moments across the four-day showcase. Editor Neill Barston reports from Cologne
From inventive gingerbread recreations of Cologne cathedral, to chocolate high heeled shoes, there was no shortage of creativity for this year’s ISM.
The leading trade in Germany last month attracted a broad global audience eager to tap into the latest sweets trends that will set the pace for the remainder of 2019.
For the first time, Confectionery Production magazine partnered with five pavilions including Germany, Poland, Greece, Turkey and Brazil for the key sweets and snacks event.
According to official figures, the show saw a total of 38,000 attendees registered, against 37,500 for the previous edition.
In total, there were 1,661 exhibitors from 76 countries, against 1,656 exhibitors from 73 nations in 2018, who presented a comprehensive range of exhibits. The floor space encompassed 120,000 m² and a total of 70% of visitors were from overseas.
During the four-day confectionery extravaganza, a wealth of colourful displays, demonstrations and new product ranges were on show for trade buyers.
Among the major topics and ranges presented was a greater focus on healthier snacks in response to growing consumer demand for sugar-reduced confectionery, as well as vegan and gluten-free product offerings.
For its part, Barry Callebaut celebrated the development of ruby chocolate, with a total of at least 11 ruby-based confectionery ranges being showcase at the event including offerings from Libeert (pictured below), Heilemann, Martinez, Cafe Tasse, Noi Sirius.
These brands demonstrated the flexibility of the ‘fourth type of chocolate’ that has now gained a release in over 40 countries since its initial launch in September 2017 in China. The company has forged major commercial partnerships with Nestle, as well as devising its own branded version for use by professional chefs.
In addition, the Swiss-headquartered business also demonstrated its progress on cocoa supply sustainability, with an area of its stand devoted to showcasing pilot farming projects that the company has developed that encourage farmers in five of its major growing locations including Indonesia and Africa, to diversify their choice of crops to help ensure a stable income level.
Leigh Pezzicara, of the company’s sustainability team, spoke to Confectionery Production on the scheme.
She said: “Over the past 18 months, we have been developing pilot farming schemes based in five locations including Indonesia, Brazil, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana, representing new and innovative approaches towards sustainability, so we’re implementing those with 600 farmers in each region.
“One of the things that we are focusing on is understanding farming and looking to professionalise it. This is being done through collating a huge amount of data on farms and the wider communities in these locations so we can recommend the best plan for them over the next five years.
“We take a model based on their needs, so it’s not a one-size-fits all solution. One option is for farmers to plant coconuts, as they are not that water-greedy and can provide shade for cocoa, with which it can be intercropped so that farmers can earn year-round incomes.”
There were positive reports across the confectionery-packed pavilions at ISM, and the Brazilian area was no exception to that.
Among the national businesses featuring was Garoto, which has established a portfolio of more than 70 products and now exports to 50 countries.
One of its most prominent series is the Talento chocolate bar, with two new flavours to mark the 25th anniversary of the premium series.
The company has released limited edition versions of milk and cream of hazelnut and the launch of the dark line in four delicious options: raspberry, passion fruit, salted caramel and nibbles of cocoa. The innovations come to expand the portfolio of the brand, which now has more than 20 products.
Talento began in 1993 with the launch of the tablet in its traditional square format, combining milk chocolate with ingredients such as nuts and fruits.
The launch had four flavours that were part of several generations of Brazilian families: Talento milk chocolate with chestnuts, as well as varieties with hazelnuts, almonds and raisons, and white chocolate with crispy cereals and raisins, with their success leading to other formats being created including a 25g version.
Fellow Brazilian group Berbau was also among a number of businesses that registered an especially rewarding performance.
Marketing manager Daniela Pernambuco said: “We had some very interested buyers and distributors, so we are hopeful of being able to open up some new markets for our products, which include candies and lollipops.
“We have been exporting now for 20 years now including Africa, US, and Middle East, and have had a good year. We’ve renewed our licence to export to the US, and we have wide distribution there now. Nigeria in Africa has been a very interesting market for us at the moment.”
Over in the Greek pavilion, its organisers reported brisk trade within its group of exhibitors. As with previous editions of the event, there were a broad range of regionally representative confectionery and traditional snacks businesses showcasing their latest ranges.
Elisavet Bimy, junior project manager said: “There was real quality to the show, though visitor numbers seemed to be a little down, what really matters is their quality, which was good.
“The majority of exhibitors have already confirmed participation for next year’s event and they have made some good contacts. I think that it was a successful fair.”
Returning to ISM to mark its 130th anniversary, Whitakers Chocolates presented a new range of the company’s classic mint wafers in several flavours including a spicy ginger variety, sea salt and caramel, as well as an orange edition.
Ian Webster, sales manager, welcomed the company’s return to the show, which was perceived by many businesses in the British pavilion to have been a success.
He said: “Being the 130th anniversary of the business it has been really good to be back here again at ISM. The new ranging having gone down really well both with UK customers and with export as well. We’re really pleased with the response and we shall be back again next year.
“We have invested a lot in the brand as well as the manufacturing facilities, bringing out bars, wafers and bites, so we are pleased with how they have been received.”
Similarly, UK chocolate manufacturer Plamil Foods also hit a sweet spot at ISM, featuring its latest bar that has been developed with less than 4% sugars.
Plamil, which is regarded as Europe’s oldest vegan company, creates and supply chocolate solutions for many other manufacturers, has created its low-sugar product as part of its So free range.
Adrian Ling, managing director, said: “After a lot of trials we managed to combine cocoa and coconut without adding sugars to create a dairy free milk chocolate tasting bar. Equally challenging however is presenting healthier chocolate to consumers, whilst maintaining desire.
“To gain the maximum number of consumers marketing any chocolate should re enforce a positive message, so we deliberately do not state no added sugar on this bar, a term which can conjure all kinds of negative consumer concepts. Instead the messages of less than 4% sugars combined with ‘a little bit of sweetness goes a long way’ seems to have sparked a flood of interested visitors to our stand at ISM.”
For its part, Northumberland-based Sweetdreams reported strong sales in relation to its newly launched Reivers premium confectionery series, as well as its existing Chocnibbles range, as the company seeks to expand its operations.
Meanwhile, UK organic chocolatier Seed and Bean reported that there had been a number of successful meetings surrounding in its ethically sourced product range.
Oli Shorts, chief chocolatier, confirmed that the business had enjoyed encouraging trading conditions over the past year – which has seen the business gain support from the Department for International Trade to export its series of products to the French market.
He said: “This year, the Sunday and the Monday have been really busy – we have had some concrete leads here. Brexit has dominated conversation, maybe that’s why it may have been a little quieter, but I am more confident this year in terms of the quality of leads we have had.
“We had a tough summer as it was too hot to ship out chocolate, but overall we have had a great start to 2019, with double-digit growth for January, which is really positive,” explained the chocolatier.
The event was also considered a success by Adrian Simpkin, of Simpkins Travel Sweets, who told Confectionery Production that the company had gained some excellent contact with new customers, as well as meeting up with a number of its existing clients at the event.
Another notable appearance came from Elizabeth Shaw, with the company returning to ISM for the first time in a decade. Its team reported strong interest in its product range, which had given it optimism for growth across its export markets.
There were also promising results for traditional confectioners Bristows of Devon, with commercial director Nigel Moult revealing he was ‘pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of visitors’ in his first time at the show with the business.
He said: “I think the iconic British brands such as ours which was started in 1885, as an artisan craft confectioner – many customers remember the kinds of sweets we do from their childhood, adults remember the good times from their childhood, which is something that people appreciate, and I still believe that ‘Made In England’ carries a premium.”
Harriet Rhys Williams, of Willie’s Cacao, was also pleased with the results from this year’s ISM. However, she sounded a note of concern as the industry is coming under an increasing level of government scrutiny.
She said: “The confectionary world faces more and more challenges every year as consumers become more aware of health issues and what goes in their food generally. Over the long-term brands have been trying to meet the challenge of removing artificial ingredients from sweets – not easy if you want precise textures and vibrant colours.
Candy Kittens has managed to be 100% natural and gluten free. While at Willie’s Cacao, all our ingredients are 100% natural, we don’t even use soya lecithin in our chocolate. The biggest issue is probably the increasing need to reduce sugar. Willie’s Cacao has met this by making 100% cacao bars naturally sweetened with fruit and nuts.”
Another highlight of ISM was provided with the presentation of outstanding achievement award to Prof. Dr. Hermann Bühlbecker, the sole shareholder of the Lambertz Group.
Event organisers presented the charismatic company founder with the accolade in recognition of his service towards the industry over the past decades.
Regarding the personal achievement ISM award, Bühlbecker has represented the company personally at ISM every year and hosts the renowned “Lambertz Monday Night” with its chocolate and fashion show. The group’s sales have increased since 1978 from the equivalent of EUR 8 million at the time to EUR 666 million today, making the business a global market leader in biscuit ranges.
Speaking at a special awards dinner event held at SkyKoln last night in Germany, the entrepreneur welcomed the accolade.
The Lambertz owner said: “It’s a big responsibility to have a company such as ours, but it has been a pleasure to be involved with in playing our part in the sweets and snacks industry.”
Meanwhile, the New Product Showcase saw three winners which included HPW with the Fruit Roll-up from Switzerland, Katjes Fassin with the Hemptastic Hemp Bar from Germany, in addition to Roelli Roelli Confectionery with its Swiss Cannabis Gum from Switzerland.
In addition to the best innovations, the most innovative packaging of the event was also distinguished – ISM Packaging Award, which was claimed by Chocal Aluminiumverpackungen from Germany for Chocal. The company said there had already been an excellent industry response at the show, which the accolade had further enhanced.
There were plenty of other product innovations across the trade fair, including from Danish-based snacks start-up LäkkerPro. Speaking to Confectionery Production, CEO Ole Bent Nielsen said that there had been an encouraging response to its series of protein-enriched crisps developed with a meat protein.
The event recorded significant growths in the number of trade visitors from East European and the Baltic countries, South Europe and North America.
Within Hall 5.2, visitors had the opportunity this year to examine the more recent sections “New Snacks”, “the Cologne Coffee Forum” and the Trend Court featuring in one location. This offered the chance for visitors to examine new innovations and themes.