London’s IFE event 2022 reveals key confectionery market launches

A wide array of new confectionery and snack lines came under the spotlight at London’s IFE 2022 event, with companies eager to exhibit their developments after a two year hiatus for the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Kathryn Brand.

Held between 21-23 March, there were over a thousand businesses represented at the show hosted by the ExCel centre, which staged the food and drink sector showcase for the first time since 2019, with its organisers hailing its return as a notable success.

Among confectionery exhibitors was Yorkshire-based Whitakers Chocolates (director William Whitaker pictured main image), a premium brand that has gained over a century of experience operating in the industry, opting to showcase several new product series. This included its latest squares and crisps, as well as other innovations in the form of its Vegan Tin-Tations, plus a wider range of catering truffles and 1kg creams, hearts, and mini salted caramel truffle tubs.

Gemma Whitaker, marketing manager for the business, believed the event had been a welcome return to live events. She said: “It’s been so nice to see what changes other brands have made and what directions they are going in,” Gemma continued, “You find that companies have used the time to really look at their brand, as we have, and gone through massive changes over the last three years.”

Plant based category growth

Plant-based was the hot topic at this year’s IFE, with a large plant-based area occupying the show floor and numerous seminars discussing the topic. Whitaker’s has developed and launched a vegan chocolate range, recently including vegan chocolate truffles, and are also registered with the Vegan Society.

On its handling of the pandemic, Gemma added: “We’ve gone through a whole rebrand, we’re pushing our retail range more than ever so that’s grown. We’ve just changed the whole position of the brand with our new products and we’re really gearing towards the vegan market.

“In lockdown, we’ve really asked ourselves: what are we missing from our range? What are people wanting? So we’ve done all our launches and we’ve got a new tin we brought out just before Christmas which is the vegan alternative to Quality Street, so that’s major,” enthused the marketing director, who explained that demand had been comparatively high for its ranges, explaining that the wider success of DIY vegan products had led to launching its own version at IFE.

Meanwhile, Cocoa Libre, another UK based vegan chocolate brand, was also present. Speaking to Confectionery Production, the company explained how it grew after initially developing its rice milk-based products seven years ago for those with dairy allergies or intolerances. The company noted its market share has continued to expand, and it used IFE to launch its new ‘Easter chicks’ series featuring entirely compostable packaging.

Keats Chocolate was also launching its Easter selection alongside a vegan range at the exhibition. In terms of new product development, it largely lay within the plant-based sector at IFE this year, which may well be an indicator of things to come in the food and drink sector.

Underlining this, another confectionery business at the event was H!P, part of the Love Cocoa business specialising in plant-based ranges, which also welcomed the chance to showcase its latest series.

The business has grown notably under its founder James Cadbury, the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury, a founder member of the famous British chocolate brand, who has found a strong market for his range of ethically-minded confectionery ranges.

This includes its latest oatmilk chocolate series, which the business explained has attracted considerable interest amid the fast-rising category’s major rise in popularity.

Speaking on the event, James said: “As always, IFE didn’t disappoint. It’s been really good to get back to events post covid and re-connect with contacts, as well as meet up with like-minded brands. I’m pleased to report the H!P stand attracted a lot of attention and we secured some strong new business leads.”

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