Editor’s outlook: A year of challenges and opportunities ahead

The past year in the confectionery sector has proved momentous in a considerable amount of respects in terms of product development, consumer trends, and wider geopolitical events that are continuing to have a major impact.

Perhaps topping the list of disruptive factors is the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has caused key impact in terms of supply chains for ingredients, as well as presenting businesses with a decision as to how and where they trade in the world.

There have also been major international issues related to the war on the borders of Eastern Europe in the form of the energy crisis that sent the costs of doing business for many manufacturers on the continent spiralling significantly.

The UK has similarly been hit badly, and is this year forecast by the IMF as the only major country not to grow its economy in 2023 (projecting a 0.6% contraction), with the nation notably impacted by the ongoing fallout from Brexit. This has in itself caused multiple problems in complicating trade for many small and medium-sized businesses that have in found trading with Europe is now prohibitively expensive. There are also potential issues over divergent health and safety standards that may well open up as a direct result of Brexit, though only time will tell what the lasting legacy is likely to be.

While there are indeed major challenges out there, as we have reported on numerous occasions, the confectionery, snacks and bakery sectors have, despite wider events, proved themselves to be pretty resilient on the whole.

This has been underlined by several market analysis groups putting the global confectionery market worth well over $250 billion within the next few years, marked by a continued period of forecast compound growth.

So, what are the factors that are driving these increases? On the one hand, key studies from the likes of Innova Market Insights have shown that there’s a sustained interest in wellbeing, healthier living and better-for-you product options. But on the other, there’s also been a spike in demand for so-called permissible indulgence, those occasional premium treats that are big business for the chocolate sector.

As the likes of Barry Callebaut have noted, there’s a clear rise of the ‘mindful consumer’ – a younger generation of snacks and confectionery ranges that are looking for innovative products that are both better for them, and are as least damaging to the planet in the way they are manufactured.

This is of course has huge potential for the industry as a whole, but it may well require major shifts in the way the sector is managed and delivers its products – which are now facing a greater level of scrutiny than ever before. This is being see with plans from the EU to bring in due diligence laws placing the onus of burden on companies to prove their imports are free from deforestation and child labour, which has to be an extremely welcome move indeed.

As for ourselves, we have a busy year ahead too, with key shows on the horizon including ISM, Sweets & Snacks, Interpack’s return after six years, and indeed progressing our own World Confectionery Conference in its third edition, which we very much hope you’ll enjoy.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

Keep in touch at [email protected] or via social media @confectionprod or Linkedin.






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