Exclusive: Caobisco opens third edition of the World Confectionery Conference
Barbara Blohberger presents at the World Confectionery Conference 2023. Pic: Neill Barston
A major keynote address by Barbara Blohberger, vice president of Caobisco, championing sustainable practices, opened this year’s third edition of the World Confectionery Conference, reports Neill Barston.
The event, which took place this Thursday at the Harrogate Convention Centre, Yorkshire, UK, featured a host of high-level presentations from across the sector.
A broad cross-section of guests from within the industry engaged with a packed agenda that honed in on its core themes of sustainability, business resilience and innovation.
This year’s show also included presentations saw keynotes from Nestlé, Ferrero, Fairtrade, FMCG Gurus, and York Cocoa House, plus additional contributions from Cargill, Ritter Sport, MacIntyre Chocolate Systems, Ghana Cocoa Board, Baker Perkins, Sweetdreams Confectionery, and Farmforce sustainability organisation.
There was also a centrepiece QandA, featuring Cama Packaging, Plamil Foods, Luker Chocolate, Ferrero and Cargill, on the theme of how sustainability has been placed atop the agenda of all elements of the industry, and explored how active solutions are being put forward for addressing global challenges.
For her part, the vice president, Barbara Blohberger, vice president of Caobisco, which represents over 13,000 chocolate, biscuit and confectionery manufacturers across Europe, re-emphasised the organisation’s commitment to backing greater levels of due diligence and legislative frameworks to support farming communities at the heart of the sector’s supply chains.
As the keynote speaker, who is also senior director for corporate affairs for Mondelez International in central Europe, noted, many challenges remain for the industry, including the need for greater support for human rights within the cocoa supply chain, as well as environmental factors of tackling deforestation in core producing nations.
She reflected that last year, Caobisco’s president had observed the need for the sector to continue “embracing Sustainability,” given that manufacturers depend heavily on the agricultural sector within Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.
Furthermore, she said there had been positive signs of development through existing voluntary schemes from many manufacturers designed to deliver enhanced levels of sustainable practices, which are due to be augmented by legally-binding due diligence legislation that is being put forward within the EU parliament.
She said: “Our members have actively taken tangible measures, such as implementing voluntary initiatives and dedicated programs, to reduce and mitigate deforestation risks within their supply chains and initiated the establishment of comprehensive voluntary due diligence systems to address and prevent potential adverse impacts on both human rights and the environment.
“Additionally, Caobisco has been actively participating in discussions regarding European Union regulations related to products free from deforestation and corporate sustainability due diligence. On the deforestation regulation – which we fully support, we need more guidance from the European Commission on its implementation and Caobisco will be working on providing industry views on implementing these guidelines. This reflects our commitment to staying fully engaged in promoting sustainable practices and responsible corporate behaviour.”
Significantly, the vice president also addressed the topic of being aware of health responsibilities in how the industry went about marketing its huge range of products. Her message on this subject was particularly notable, given comparatively high levels of obesity linked to dietary intake that has become an increasing factor on a global level.
In response, the industry’s major plays, as well as smaller independent enterprises have increasingly sought to place a focus on expanding existing product ranges to include better-for-you options.
Blohberger added: “Treats have a special place in our lives. We empower consumers to embrace our European culinary heritage and enjoy a moment of indulgence in a mindful way, providing choice while preserving our environment for future generations.
“But we have also have to ensure our consumers are well informed and regulation follows scientific facts and is not informed by emotions and perceptions. Therefore, we want to contribute to these regulations with research that we have commissioned on portions.”
– For a full report on this year’s World Confectionery Conference, see our next edition of Confectionery Production magazine