ISM Cologne Summary

Confectionery Expo Cologne: tradition and innovation, fruits, proteins, free-from and sweet
Summary of the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers

The world’s largest confectionery trade fair, ISM Cologne, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, closed its doors on 5 February. The jubilee event received 37,000 commercial visitors from 148 countries and hosted 1,774 exhibitors from 76 countries. In addition to significant German trade representatives, Walmart, Carrefour, Costco, Schwarz Gruppe, Tesco, Aldi, Edeka, Rewe, Amazon and Walgreens were among the biggest buyers, importers and distributors of sweets.

Fourteen Hungarian exhibitors attended the event, including several members of our Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers. Premium products, unusual flavour components, snacks based on natural ingredients or made using vegetable or insect-based proteins, as well as vegan, vegetarian, fat and sugar reduced items and products manufactured in certified ethical conditions were on the rise this year. Nevertheless, traditional sweets continued to be the backbone of the fair.

Surveying the exhibitors, the general consensus was that business expectations are optimistic, but it could not be avoided that the confectionery industry is facing a number of issues. Changing consumer shopping habits, shifting preferences, ecological expectations such as sustainability, abiding environmental and social interests in the supply chain, and ever shorter innovation cycles are all becoming more important. Changes in regulation can also be challenging in many countries. The combination of enjoyment value, authentic products, sustainability, and a variety of trends and demands, tailored to the occasion or the season, are the key to customer decisions.

There is a growing consumer demand for pre-packaged small, compact foods, which were addressed in a dedicated section of the expo. These include baked or microwave cooked snacks, different varieties of nuts and gourmet seeds from unique growing regions, nut bars made from these ingredients, innovative vegetable chips, vegetable snacks, rice snacks and other cereal or vegetable-based snacks were presented as the new alternatives to potato chips. In addition to organic, vegan, vegetarian, reduced-fat, sugar-free, gluten- and lactose-free, there is also a significant growth in the halal and kosher markets, where there is still a niche for manufacturers.

The protein fortification of foods is becoming more common – numerous snack bars are made using high-protein ingredients, often combined with fruits or vegetables. Recent developments include the increased use of plant proteins such as lentils, beans and peas, which can serve as ingredients in, for example, granola bars or crunchy snacks enriched with nut and hemp additives. The insect bars weren’t absent either, such as chocolate enriched with green ants, insect protein sticks and a chocolate-coated grasshopper snack were also showcased.

The fruit trend is becoming more and more dominant whether it be classic dried fruits, exotic berries, nuts or fruit granules: pastilles, bars, balls, or other natural fruit-based snacks made with natural fruit ingredients are becoming increasingly popular. Their ingredients may include apples, apricots, dates, berries, pomegranates, raspberries, blueberries, or other unsweetened dried fruits and nuts. Lemon, lime and mint are among the preferred flavourings.

The next ISM will take place in Cologne next year, from 31 January to 3 February. The Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers’ is confident that in 2021 even more Hungarian companies will attend at the event.