Companies claim key honours with the debut World Confectionery Awards
Companies from across the full spectrum of industry were bestowed with honours as part of our debut live event World Confectionery Conference, which celebrated the sector’s resilience despite wider business challenges, writes Neill Barston.
Among the five categories claiming an accolade on the night for the event at the Marriott Hotel in Brussels, was ethical chocolate firm MIA Foodie, which was gained the overall award for sustainability in its operations.
In recent years it has evolved an inspiring model of processing cocoa locally in Madagascar, delivering greater benefits to African communities.
The business has now extended its interests into Ghana, recently extending its premium grade series there, as it seeks a fundamental shift in how companies trade, in creating a framework for origin companies to retain a greater share of profits from their raw materials.
Brett Beach, co-founder of MIA, also spoke at a special Q and A session (pictured in the centre of the main image), and welcomed being among the first winners of our debut awards – which received a strong standard of entries across its categories.
“Receiving the Sustainability Award from such an important industry event as the World Confectionery Conference is a real boost for MIA and all of the people who work so hard in the bean-to-bar supply chain in Ghana, said Brett.
He added: “The award recognises the value of taking a new approach to value-added production and helps put Africa on the map as a maker of premium chocolate after so long playing the support role of cocoa supplier.”
Judges also named Germany’s Syntegon packaging and processing group as having gained ‘highly commended’ recognition for its entry of the company’s Makat confectionery jellies cooking systems, which it has enhanced with energy saving features that made it a strong contender.
Notably, Adrian Ling, managing director of Plamil Foods, which claimed the Team of the Year honours, was particularly pleased to have engaged with the event, to see the company, which has its roots as a pioneer of the vegan market in the 1950s, emerge successful.
The company has made notable strides in recent years with the development of its So Free range of non-dairy vegan chocolate that had gained a strong foothold in the UK market, as well as enjoying sales across Europe.
Adrian said: “I was delighted and honoured that Plamil were awarded at such a prestigious conference. I myself am interested in the personal self development of others and in peoples interactions with each other, so it is fabulous these elements shine through in the business and are recognised in how the Plamil team operates together.”
Strong competition for honours
As the internal judging panel for the World Confectionery Awards noted last month, there had been a broad range of contenders vying to be named the best in the business. This certainly extended into the finished product category.
The winner was named last Friday as WN WN Food Labs, which was present to pick up the accolade, with its team, including chocolatier Jon Hogan, believing its ranges had significant potential in delivering a groundbreaking alternative to conventional chocolate production, instead using lab-based alternatives derived from cereals and legumes.
Speaking to Confectionery Production recently on its creation, founder Dr Johnny Drain said: “Using fermentation we are able to create a suite of the same flavour compounds found in cacao. We can dial up certain aromas and even adjust the acidity to bring out notes found in premium single-origin chocolates.”
The company offered samples of its winning entry to attendees at our Brussels event, with its debut range having notes of sticky toffee pudding, dates, cherries, and a rich, buttery finish. As the company added, in blind taste tests alongside cacao-based dark chocolate, consumers described the products as “very similar.”
There was also strong competition for the equipment innovation award, which was claimed by Baker Perkins, for its latest depositing system for gummies, which gained a show debut at this year’s ProSweets, and impressed judges in terms of its evolution of an existing line of machinery. It has notable potential within the fast-rising neutraceutical market.
Meanwhile, Italy’s Cama Group was also highly commended for a newly-devised chocolate packaging system delivering further efficiency gains for manufacturers, with the company’s robotics advancements playing a strong element in its success.
For its part, Irish-based Kerry Group emerged as winners on the day within the ingredients category, for a new hyfoama whipping product which has a broad application for sugar based confectionery product ranges. Its pea protein-based series can fully replace egg white and gelatin in applications such as nougat, marshmallow, bird’s milk, jellies and chews.