Exclusive: The global confectionery sector 2022 year in review

Editor Neill Barston offers a reflection on the most notable moments of 2022’s global confectionery calendar.

This year began in especially memorable style with the return of ISM in Cologne, Germany, which many industry observers had anticipated would not in fact be proceeding due to a key spike in Covid-19 cases that had forced many sectors of the country’s economy into lockdown conditions.

However, the federal government’s decision to exempt business events from its rulings meant both ISM and ProSweets (Syntegon’s stand pictured) went ahead under strict hygiene measures, resulting in a much-reduced total of some 15,000 visitors across ISM’s four days.

According to Koelnmesse, around 80% of visitors were from overseas for the show at the end of January, despite the fact travel restrictions heavily affected the ability of Asian-based attendees from China, to participate in the international confectionery showcase. Catch our exclusive video review of ProSweets here.

In February just weeks after the conclusion of ISM/ProSweets this year, perhaps the most significant news story of the year broke with the invasion of Ukraine by neighbouring Russian forces.

The ongoing conflict has had a major impact on all sectors of industry around the world, as major supply chain issues and ingredients shortages were quickly felt by the situation.

Consequently, the CEO of Nestlé, Mark Schneider, moved to offer reassurance of support for its employees in Ukraine amid ‘unspeakable human suffering’ amid the war, with the business being among a number of key brands to have manufacturing bases within the region.

As previously reported, the company confirmed it halted sales of KiKat in Russia, as a broad range of global corporations and sector businesses including Mondelez International, Mars and Ferrero are scaling back their activities and investment in the country.

Nestlé presently employs a total of 5,800 people in Ukraine, and it has confirmed that it has largely maintained operations in the west of the country, whereas operations of its factory in Kharkiv were halted due to heavy shelling. In response, the UN called for a peaceful resolution to the situation, which has seen a reported total of around 10 million Ukrainians displaced from their homes.

In other developments, this March, the Cocoa Coalition of major confectionery companies including Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Hershey, Ferrero, Tony’s Chocolonely, alongside Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, added its support for EU plans for deforestation legislation – but calls for it to be further intensified (with plans being provisionally taken forward later in the year).

According to the group, the proposals from the European Commission that aim to deliver due diligence surrounding core commodities supply chains are a ‘step in the right direction,’ but it believes the text of its proposals needs to be enhanced.

Meanwhile, another especially memorable moment from the month came with the State of the Industry Conference in Miami.

As John Downs (pictured below), president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association behind the event noted, ‘the sun is shining once again on the industry’ despite wider challenges facing the sector, which was reflected in a thought-provoking and dynamic event exploring key trends that paved the way for Sweets and Snacks shortly afterwards.

In May proceedings for this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in the US kicked-off with its annual Most Innovative New Product Awards that provided an early focal point for the event with a number of significant innovations, marking its 25th anniversary (catch our video review here).

As the National Confectioners Association noted, the showcase highlighted the region’s most striking and creative confectionery and snack products to emerge and the stories of those behind them.

There were key launches across the industry, from major brands such as Hershey (pictured), as well as Mars, Barry Callebaut and Ferrero, through to a host of independent smaller manufacturers keen to showcase their latest offerings.

Meanwhile, in June, Cargill’s European managing director for chocolate, Inge Demeyere, has hailed ‘a major milestone’ for the company in formally unveiling its new innovation and research facility in Mouscron, Belgium (below).

As previously reported, the facilities, which have been developed alongside the company’s existing plant, have included investment totalling around €21 million into delivering a location capable of enabling the next generation of products, including sugar-reduced ranges. (See our exclusive video of the opening day special event here).

Designed as a 6,200 square meter complex, its three-floor experience centre includes a combination of what is believed to be a unique pilot plant with sensory expertise, and creative workspace for the company’s European R&D team of chocolate engineers.

Also in Belgium, this August, Barry Callebaut confirmed it intended to begin restarting its core global chocolate production facilities in Wieze, Belgium following detection of salmonella at the site that had been detected at the end of June.

The Swiss-headquartered business noted that key progress had been made in tackling the incident, with facilities being temporarily halted two days later in a bid to swiftly isolate the issue – which it later confirmed had not resulted in affected batches reaching retail stores.

According to the company, it found that the case related to salmonella-positive lecithin ingredients present at the site. It projected that cleaning operations presently being undertaken at its location in Belgium – which are believed to be the largest of their kind in the world, will enable production to re-start in early August.

Within a similar timeframe, Ferrero confirmed that Kinder Surprise products were back on UK shelves, after they were withdrawn this summer following a salmonella outbreak at its Arlon factory, which resulted in a number of reported cases of illness around Europe.

The Belgian food safety authority (AFSCA) had previously given clearance for the company’s lines to restart following extensive cleaning and food safety controls, with the industry body noting that all required standards had been met, with the company apologising to consumers for the incident.

There were a number of key moments in September, for the sector, including  Aldo Cristiano, president of Caobisco opened our World Confectionery Conference with a keynote presentation underlining the importance of supporting the sector and progressing major due diligence sustainability policies. (See our special extended video review of the day here).

Speaking via an exclusively recorded address, he offered hope for the industry facing a significant raft of challenges including higher energy and ingredients prices, as well as ongoing logistics issues that have been worsened by the war in Ukraine.

He cited the establishment of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative over the past five years, which has centred on preventing deforestation as a key driver of industry engagement on supporting core communities, including major supplier nations in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

As Confectionery Production has previously reported, the two West African nations are responsible for sourcing around two thirds of cocoa supplies for the chocolate sector – though its farming communities still face considerable risks from poverty, and issues relating to child labour and deforestation.

Sadly, on the opening day of our conference, we paid tribute to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – who had close association with premium chocolate brands including London-based Prestat, which held a Royal Warrant from the late British monarch.

The company held a strong association with the royal household, producing a special range of confectionery to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – marking her record 70 years on the throne this year.

Her Majesty was known to have appreciated Prestat chocolate in particular, with the company, which has production facilities in West London (see our previous exclusive video on the business here celebrating her links with the company) producing a special Easter egg for her each year as a special treat.

Moving into the final quarter of the year, in October, Germany’s confectionery trade organisation, the BDSI issued a fresh warning that ‘many small and medium sized businesses are struggling to survive’ amid a backdrop of inflated energy costs, broken supply chains and high raw ingredients costs – impacted by the conflict in Ukraine.

As the organisation noted, the country remains prominent globally for its traditional confectionery ranges – particularly Christmas chocolates and other bakery series, including advent calendars, but with the winter season fast approaching, concerns have been put forward for the hard-pressed industry. Energy costs alone are expected to continue to soar, projected to be around 750% more than prices paid in 2021.


Moreover, in November at a special launch in Venice, Barry Callebaut promised a major step forward for the confectionery business, a ‘paradigm shift’ no less, with its artisan-inspired Second generation Chocolate series.

The Swiss-headquartered business launched its new innovation claiming a 50% reduction in sugar levels for both milk and dark chocolate versions of its latest release – which has traditionally been a key sticking point for many manufacturers.

Previously, there have been releases from a number of major manufacturers and brands claiming up to around 30% cuts in sugar. Precise details of its processing method were not revealed at the launch, but it is understood the beans hail from South America, with many sector analysts noting that the series focus on purity of the cocoa itself is reminiscent of traditional cacao cultivation techniques – which it is now proposing to deliver on a major commercial scale.

Following in the wake of extremely positive feedback from our first live format World Confectionery Conference in Brussels, we confirmed it is set to return next year in Brussels, Belgium on 14 September 2023.

With its strong focus on sustainability right across the complete value chain of our industries, we were greatly encouraged by the response to our vibrant industry showcase. (See the launch for our 2023 event with an interview with Ferrero here).

It followed on from our initial event held online amid the pandemic last year, that provided the perfect springboard for our return to live events – which all those who attended believed had been sorely missed during the past two years.

Delivering the chance to enable some quality personal connections for businesses and individual attendees from around the globe proved a notably enjoyable experience for all.



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