ISM Middle East achieves highest-ever level of exhibitor space for 2023 show

A wide array of sweet treats and snacks were unveiled at this year’s ISM Middle East event in Dubai, which confirmed record exhibitor space sold and high levels of attendance in attracting a total of 12,800 visitors across its three days last week, reports Neill Barston.

The final total of exhibitors was 352, hailing from 45 countries, 28 national pavilions, held under the banner of  “Bigger, Better, Bolder,” as manufacturers from across the world looked to gain a slice of the action in what has continued to expand.

Confectionery Production was on hand to report on the event, including its newly-introduced knowledge sessions for its conference afternoon. This included a presentations from Innova Market Insights, Euromonitor, plus a Q & A session featuring G.A.A.S.T, German Sweets, IFF, Jannis, Mirzam and Perfetti van Melle.


This year, ISM Middle East expanded its exhibition space due to the increasing demand from exhibitors. The record result of 2016 with 5,197 square meters of space was exceeded. Additionally, ISM Middle East will be making a major shift in its schedule starting from 2024. The event will move from its traditional November date to September, allowing for better alignment with religious celebrations as well as the order timings of the industry. The new dates for the ISM Middle East 2024 edition are set from September 24 to 26, 2024, at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). This move aims to meet the ever-increasing demand in the region and further expand the exhibitor base.

Speaking to Confectionery Production, Katharina Buschjäger, Director ISM Middle East, Koelnmesse, (see our exclusive video interview with her here), commented: “I am very happy that our exhibitors were highly satisfied with this year’s trade-fair edition and rated it as a clear business success. And we are particularly looking forward to 2024 – with even more space and exhibitors I am convinced that the ISM Middle East will attract all relevant customer groups again and stay the indispensable component in the marketing mix of our exhibitors as in the last years.”


This year’s ISM Middle East showcased a diverse range of products, including chocolate, confectionery, desserts, snack foods, ice cream, fine bakery, date products, reflecting the dynamic and ever-evolving sweets and snacks industry. The participants at the trade fair reaped significant benefits by establishing direct connections with a multitude of pertinent buyers and key figures hailing from the realms of retail, trade, and hospitality. They also engaged with distributors spanning the entire region. The calibre of the trade fair attendees garnered special recognition. Moreover, the volume of visitors surpassed the expectations of most of the trade fair participants, with the event’s halls proving notably busy across all three days.

“Under the ISM family banner, ISM Middle East seamlessly aligns with the global reputation of the world’s leading trade fair in Cologne and has once again reaffirmed its position as the foremost business platform in the Middle East and North Africa region,” stated Oliver Frese, Chief Operating Officer at Koelnmesse GmbH, setting the stage for an even more thrilling edition in 2024.

Bastian Mingers, Vice President of Trade Fair Management at Koelnmesse, noted that there was a large increase in international buyer visits, including from Africa and especially Saudi Arabia, where demand for high quality, high value confections drove a 41% increase in visitors.

“ISM Middle East serves as the premier sweets and snacks trade fair tailored for the MENA region. Our collaboration with Koelnmesse harmoniously aligns with our aspiration to orchestrate a globally esteemed event that not only meets but also surpasses the anticipations of our target audiences,” remarked Mark Napier, Vice President Exhibitions at Dubai World Trade Centre.

The winners of the 9th ISM Middle East New Product Showcase Award
ISM Middle East 2023 celebrated again innovation and excellence with the ISM Middle East New Product Showcase Awards. This prestigious recognition showcased the most innovative and newly launched sweets and snacks products, marking the ninth edition of this highly anticipated event.

An impartial and specialized panel of judges meticulously evaluated the numerous submissions and handpicked the victors across four distinct categories. These deserving winners were celebrated at the trade fair, with all awarded products prominently displayed in the Trend Court during the event. The 2023 winners include:

Category: Best Chocolate Product
Exhibitor: Gia Siming (Zhuhai) Food Technology Co., Ltd. (China)
Product: Lyophilized chocolate

Category: Best Hard & Soft Candy Product
Exhibitor: Magical Flavors for Food Industry (Egypt)
Product: Marshzone Marshmallow Fries

Category: Best Bakery Product
Exhibitor: Me Gusto Sp. z.o.o. (Poland)
Product: Organic wafer with peanut butter and salt, without added sugar

Category: Best Snack Product
Exhibitor: Matis Bros SA (Greece)
Product: Full Energy Tahini Spread with Rice Crispies




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