Industry targets ProSweets to unveil major plant based confectionery ingredients developments

The organisers of ProSweets have projected that ingredients specialists are set to respond strongly to the present key consumer preference for healthier plant-based food ranges, including confectionery with authentic tastes and flavours, writes Neill Barston.

Clearly, the sector has been posed a number of technological tests in meeting greater market demand for natural product range, which requires a balance between devising new series that offer a balance of enjoyment and health considerations.

As a result, a wide range of innovative ingredients solutions are expected at the upcoming ProSweets being held between January 30 and 2nd February, 30.01.-02.02.2022 that are set to enable recipes that are rich in protein and fibre, but also make clean label-conform reformulations possible.

According to Koelnmesse’s observations, consumers of chocolate, bonbons or fruit gums today, expect more than “just” good taste. Sweets and snacks should no longer purely offer a surprise effect through exotic taste combinations and fruity aromas, but should also support an active and conscious lifestyle as sugar-reduced or purely plant-based variants. As a result of the long lockdowns and social distancing measures, naturalness and health are two of the trends that are becoming more and more relevant for purchasing decisions.

According to a survey by FMCG Gurus, around 38 percent of the consumers worldwide are currently on the look-out for more healthy sweets. 63 percent take a critical look at the list of ingredients, whereby statements such as “free from additives” or “100% natural” are extremely popular at the point of sale.

Booster for the immune system

The growing number of new product introductions with healthy benefits is also reflected in the databases of Innova Market Insights. “The increasing significance of this market segment confirms this,” said Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova Market Insights. As a partner of Koelnmesse, the market research company will present the most important ingredients trends of the sweets and snacks industry for 2022 at ProSweets Cologne.

For instance, Lu Ann Williams is expecting an increase in the awareness for the content of antioxidants and the potential advantages snacks containing dark chocolate and “superfruits”, like pomegranates or goji berries, bring for a healthy immune system.

The focus lies not least on the significance of immune-strengthening contents, which goes hand in hand with a growing interest for personalised diets. The “Ingredients’ Event Zone in Hall 5.2 that is being jointly organised by Koelnmesse and the DLG, German Agricultural Society, is addressing this complex theme and will present the results of the survey entitled “My Food – Personalisation and Diet”. Beyond this, a knowledge hub with presentations by Ingredients exhibitors on the latest product developments and innovations also awaits the visitors.

Parallel to this, the popularity of plant-based ingredients is driving the innovations of the sweets and snacks manufacturers. This is also leading to creative scope for new ways of enriching food with fibre.

It is not without reason that the sweet segment is currently one of the product groups with the most health claims regarding grain, vegetable and legume-based fiber concentrates. As a rule, these can be easily integrated into existing recipes without altering the manufacturing processes. Wafer biscuits that contain wholegrain fiber in the filling, without a perceivable difference in taste, creaminess or crunchiness, are an example of this.

The exhibiting companies at the Cologne fair grounds cater for all these trends with tailor-made all-in-one solutions using ingredients such as fruit powder, nuts and vitamins, but also botanic extracts, functional fibers or vegetable-based protein concentrates. Against this backdrop, the development of new sweets in the clean label section is gathering speed. However, for the implementation of a completely clean label-conform reformulation several technological hurdles have to be overcome. This above all applies to the question of how the sensory properties of the original product regarding the taste, texture and colour, can be kept intact.

For example, switching over from artificial to natural colours brings special challenges with it. If fruit gums, chewing gum or candies are to impress in cherry red, carrot orange or lemon, the use of colouring foodstuffs is recommendable. “According to EU stipulations, these are considered to be food ingredients, so they don’t need any E-numbers,” explained Petra Thiele, Managing Director at GNT Europa GmbH in Aachen. The company’s latest innovations include two solutions based on turmeric and spirulina, which provide a yellow-green and blue-green shade, respectively. These are gained from non-gmo fruits, vegetables and plants using physical processing methods.

Treats rich in protein for the workout

Since the term “plant-based” is taking on an increasingly important role on the sweets shelf, both the traditional producers and start-up companies are faced with the challenge of providing recipes with improved nutrient profiles – for a good reason too: According to Innova Market Insights, worldwide the market for plant-based foods is recording two-digit growth rates. There is a particularly high demand for snacks that are rich in protein and sugar-reduced – also in the form of bars.

Those that increase the energy level after the sport or which increase performance are especially popular. Protein concentrates obtained from chickpeas, beans or lentils, which thanks to their functional properties also have a pleasant mouthfeel and provide a creamy texture are relatively new on the list of ingredients here. Almonds, nuts and cashews,

Looking ahead to ProSweets Cologne 2022 shows that the expectations of the consumers are changing and that healthy options are becoming the priority for the sweets and snacks manufacturers. Which relevance the new ingredients have and how they can be used to create products that convince in terms of their taste is also a theme in the INGREDIENTS Event Zone in Hall 5.2. – the central point of contact regarding the theme raw materials and ingredients.

The future congress # CONNECT2030 on the Tuesday of the trade fair, which will also be transmitted live on the digital event platform, ISM & ProSweets @home, is daring to take a glance way beyond the year 2022. The keynote speakers Hon. Teacher. Dr. Sascha Peters and Diana Drewes from the future agency, Haute Innovation, will talk about sustainable solutions for sweets of high nutritional value. For more information visit

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