Key confectionery trends for UAE region centre on healthier options and novelty product lines

According to latest research, health, sensory and novelty confectionery from around the world Are Driving UAE Sweets And Snacks Sales, claim industry experts including Innova Market Insights

The Middle East’s love of confectionery is well known but its appetite for sweets is changing, according to new industry reports which says the region is gradually moving towards more health-related ingredients and novelty products.

The UAE is among the region’s largest confectionery markets and the latest ‘Growing Forward’ report from Canada’s Agriculture & Agri Food Department forecasts confectionery sales in the Emirates will surpass US $800 million by 2021 with the chocolate subsector leading the drive – recording value sales growth of 12.7 per cent over the next two years.

Products that claim to have health benefits – and smaller fun size items – will become more popular as consumers worldwide look for healthy adaptations of traditional confectionaries.
The report though, warns producers that the going won’t be easy, stating: “Intense competition exists in this subsector; leading companies are developing more innovative packaging formats and a variety of chocolate confectionery products to appeal to the local consumers.”

Significantly,  UAE’s sugar confectionery sector is also forecast for growth until 2021, according to the report, with pastilles, gums, jellies and chews taking the lion’s share of business, reaching $43.9 million in value over the next two years.

Change will be largely led by experiential consumer demand, according to Innova Market Insights. In a recent report, the intelligence provider asserts “consumer curiosity to discover something new and different is leading to more unusual and often bolder flavours and blends, surprise textures and a greater focus on visual appeal in the sweets and snacks arena.
Growth is also being driven by a global trend towards snacking companies focusing product development on trends such as bite-size formats and on-the-go options, according to Innova. “The three leading drivers of choice in snacks and confectionery remain flavour, cost and indulgence,” says the report.

The changing confectionery landscape is evident in the exhibitor line-up of yummex Middle East, the MENA region’s leading sweets and snacks event, which will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from October 29-31.

New world trends will test consumer tastes
Innovation from Mexico has found its way into the exhibitor profile with the country’s Best Creative Ingredients planning to win over the region’s producers and consumers with a host of healthy and ‘alternative’ ingredients including the natural sweetener agave syrup, profigel, a micro-gel plant-based that replaces fat with 0 Cal in bakery and even insect protein.
“Insect protein, the food of the future is here,” says Creative Ingredients Sales Manager Aime Puebla. “High quality protein and sustainable food is gaining more consumer attention and insects are naturally high in protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins. We are pioneers in bringing edible insects to the table.”

Such is the regional market potential that Creative Ingredients, which already has an office in Dubai, is now working on long-term plans for a regional production unit.

Meanwhile, the UK’s confectionery brand incubator Brand Hatchers says novelty has given it a market edge in the Middle East with its Brain Blasterz sour candy catching the regional imagination.

“The brand offers 10 exciting sour candy products ranging from slightly sour all the way to super sour. It has a growing loyal fan following on social media,” explained Emily Howarth, Head of International Marketing. “We have ambitious growth planned for the Middle East and are sharing our new product launches at the show.”
Innovation hits the sweet spot

The innovation drive has also spurred the imagination of DWTC, which organises yummex Middle East. Making its show debut is the three-day, ‘Munch’ knowledge sub-event to probe the latest trends, developments, regulatory updates and innovations and free-to-attend brand licensing workshops to ensure visitors and exhibitors optimise participation and that yummex keeps pace with the sector’s rapid transformation and growth.

“Growth forecasts coupled with transitioning consumer appetites and tastes, is attracting a host of newcomers to the show while longer-established exhibitors are using yummex as international launch pads for their latest innovations,” said Trixie Lohmirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC. “Success will lie with those that are infinitely attuned to the market and those insights can be acquired at the yummex knowledge platforms including the new Munch and brand licensing workshops.”

Yummex Middle East 2019 is co-located alongside sector aligned shows including Gulfood Manufacturing, SEAFEX, the MENA region’s largest seafood sourcing event and Private Label and Licensing Middle East Expo, the world’s first expo for FMCG contracts.

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