Intődy Gábor

Easter hits are granola and biscuits

800 tonnes of Easter sweets – mainly chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs – are consumed annually
on the Hungarian market, in the value of approximately HUF 5 billion. The Easter confectionery market
has always grown in recent years, and between 2017 and 2018 there was a particularly large
expansion, with a 10% increase in sales. This was mainly due to the shift to higher quality, not the
increase in the number of tonnes to such an extent.

There will definitely be no shortage of Easter confectionery this year, because retailers have already
filled their warehouses and shelves with the usual quantity long before the state of emergency was
declared, so there is no need to worry about someone missing out on chocolate bunnies, chocolate
eggs or other Easter delicacies, whether choosing domestic or imported sweets.

This year, the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers predicts a decrease in the
consumption of Easter sweets, because according to surveys, in the current situation, flour, oil, rice
and canned foods are the most popular products, for which consumers have spent and still spend
twice as much as usual.

This will probably not be the best year for confectioners, says Sándor Sánta, President of the
Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers, adding that he hopes to celebrate Easter next
year under different circumstances.

It is expected that the sums intended for the purchase of food for Easter have partially diverted,
furthermore the motivation for building up reserves may also be more significant than before. Exports
are now limited to many destinations or downright impossible. Domestic small and medium-sized
companies are primarily exposed to the decline and negative effects of market demand, therefore the
priority for both them and their employees is to keep companies alive and preserve jobs, all the more
so because the smoothest possible restart is essential to remaining competitive.

The most negative effects are to be expected in the case of chocolates, impulse-buy products and
unique confectionery sold through premium and exclusive channels (e.g. downtown, at airports, in
cafes), where the decline can be as high as 10 – 70%, depending on the product. Many small and
medium-sized Hungarian companies focus on such products, so aiding them is vital. The market for
snacks and chips is stable. Interest in granola, cereals and functional bars has grown significantly. At
Cerbona's Székesfehérvár plant, for example, they are responding to the increased demands by hiring
new employees and extending their operating hours. Our members also reported an increase in
demand in the biscuit segment. In the case of biscuits, it is currently a great advantage that the
majority of the raw materials are domestic, so here the difficulties arising from transportation have to
be mitigated less, but exports in this case are also a difficult trajectory.

The strong trends in food, and within that, in confectionery consumption, will hopefully not change in
the long run. The demand for quality sweets, the purchase of products with lower mass but higher
value will certainly continue as things return to normal.

The role of food in these difficult times is greatly appreciated anyway, as are the moments when we
can forget about the problems a little and gift those close to us or ourselves.

The Association emphasizes that they also work unwaveringly in confectionery production in the
factories: confectioners, line workers, technicians, quality inspectors and many others make sure they
go to work every day so that production is continuous and customers have access to their favourite

A small source of pleasure, quality sweets consumed in moderation, can be afforded by almost
everyone even in the extraordinary circumstances, so the Association asks consumers not to leave
chocolate bunnies and special confectionery alone on the shelves when they are done buying or
ordering staple products. Nor is it worth leaving bunnies, lambs, eggs and other delicacies in the
shops because they will most certainly be missed during the holidays.

The members of the Association have initiated a number of donations in connection with

Mondelez Hungária offers nearly eight tonnes of Milka Easter sweets to those in need through the
Hungarian Red Cross, and also helps the work of the organization with a cash donation of nearly one
million Forints.

In accordance with its many years of best practice, Haribo Hungária Kft. supports the local
communities and health care institutions in the area with its Easter donations.

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.


Confectionery Conference

The Association held its conference focusing on innovation and sustainability on 5 December 2019. Speakers and topics: “Hungarian confectionery industry from the point of view of the Ministry of Agriculture” – Róbert Zsigó, State Secretary for Food Chain Supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture; “Changing trends and consumer needs in the global confectionery market” – Sándor Sánta, President, Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers;
“Climate change: can it be stopped?” – Diána Ürge-Vorsatz, Vice Chair of Work Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); “Confectionary industry in the context of sustainability and diets” – Vladimir Rakhmanin, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); “The cost of our sweet life – The environmental impact of the confectionery industry and its possible reduction from the natural resources perspective “- Katalin Sipos, Country Director, World Wildlife Fund (WWF); „Increasing the biological value of confectionery products” – Dr. Ernő Gyimes PhD, Associate Professor, Institute of Food Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Szeged;
“Innovation in packaging technology – packaging of the future” – Miklós Nagy, Secretary General, Hungarian Association for Packaging and Material Handling (CSAOSZ).

Presentation folder > click here.

Confectionery: Future, Innovation, Sustainability

Summary of the Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers’ Conference

In his opening speech, Róbert Zsigó, State Secretary for Food Chain Supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture said that the efficiency of the Hungarian confectionery industry has increased spectacularly. With over 250 companies and close to 5,000 employees, the segment had a turnover of more than HUF 211 billion and profits in excess of more than HUF 9 billion last year. The foreign trade performance of the confectionery industry is similarly encouraging, with exports of chocolate products increasing by nearly EUR 30 million and imports by about EUR 60 million last year compared to the data of four years ago. The total turnover of the Hungarian food industry has also increased by almost 50% – from HUF 2,800 billion to about HUF 4,000 billion – since 2010, while the proportion of exports has been growing at a rate of over 30% for years. At the same time, the willingness to invest in the sector is increasing, thanks to growing subsidies, said the State Secretary; since 2014, more than HUF 300 billion has poured into the food industry from domestic and EU sources.

Sándor Sánta, President of the Association of Hungarian Confectionery Manufacturers, explained that it will be necessary to continue to support developments, because while the climate crisis threatens the world’s food supply, the supply of raw materials for the food industry and within it the confectionery industry as well, in parallel consumer demands and shopping habits are swiftly changing too. According to global surveys, one third of meals will be solved with pre-packaged food, and a quarter will be eaten at catering establishments, and the number of food delivery orders may increase by as much as 1000% in the next ten years. According to Mondelez’s recent report (State of Snacking), snacking is turning into a meal too: 70% of the Millennial Generation’s main meals are often preferred to be the consumption of substantial snacks. At the same time, consumers are not only looking for novelty, but they continue to insist on trusted, traditional brands and the delights of sweets. In addition to enjoyment, consumers appreciate food products that can be seamlessly incorporated into balanced or special diets, and the credibility, reliability and commitment of the manufacturer to sustainability are important considerations too. For these reasons, confectionery manufacturers need to find sustainable solutions that combine the best traditions and innovative responses to new challenges in order to maintain and strengthen their competitiveness. To meet these goals, the Association of Chocolate, Biscuit and Confectionery Industries of Europe, CAOBISCO, has launched the ‘treatwell’ initiative, in which the Hungarian association is also involved.

Diána Ürge-Vorsatz, Vice-President of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) on Emissions Reduction, drew attention to the fact that climate change is causing extreme weather effects, the consequences of which can also be felt in agriculture. In Hungary, the warming by 1° Celsius has, for example, reduced the yields of four major cereals by 10-15%. If the trend continues, the Agricultural Economics Research Institute predicts that by the end of the century the yield of corn may decrease by up to 35% and that of wheat by 25%, while potatoes will not grow at all in Hungary in 30 years’ time. According to other forecasts, by then the climate in the equatorial zone may also become unsuitable for cocoa production, so by 2050 one of the particularly important raw materials for the production of confectionery may be completely eliminated due to climate change.

Katalin Sipos, a biologist and the Director of WWF Hungary, warned that animals, including pollinating insects, are losing their habitat due to global warming and the over-exploitation of production areas, which is also destroying the natural environment around them. According to the organization’s latest biodiversity report (2018 Living Planet Index), the wildlife population declined by more than 60% between 1970 and 2014, falling to less than half in just forty years. However, with the disappearance of bees, we will not only have to give up honey, but we will also have to face the catastrophic consequences of pollination not taking place. According to the biologist, our economic systems do not currently factor in the damage caused by the overuse of natural resources. Nature is being destroyed, invisible to the economy, although it performs functions essential to our survival. The Earth’s population could quadruple from 2.5 billion people in the early 1900s to 10 billion by the end of the century, when more than 60% of people will live in major cities, while we are already consuming 1.7 planet’s worth of natural resources per year. With current trends in climate change and overuse, it would be difficult to predict the severity of the world’s food supply in 2100.

Vladimir Rakhmanin, Regional Representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for Europe and Central Asia, reported that multinational players in the sector are committing themselves to making their operations carbon neutral, often ahead of national governments in their undertakings. However, on a global level, 40% of crops and animals are cultivated by small farmers and the majority of European confectionery manufacturers are also small and medium-sized enterprises. Smaller players in the market are less able to influence their supply chain than multinational companies, for example, and therefore need more support in their innovation efforts to enhance ethical and sustainable operations throughout the world. European food companies for example source 74% of their palm oil from sustainable sources, however the global average is only 20%.

Dr Ernő Gyimes, Associate Professor at the Institute of Food Engineering at the University of Szeged, emphasized that the modern consumer is looking for new taste experiences. More and more successful product manufacturers are breaking away from familiar flavours and developing new, often astonishing, flavour combinations. This includes the taste of lesser known exotic fruits such as lychee and the pitaya (dragon fruit) popular in the Far East. In many cases, the unique taste is accompanied by a surprising consistency and texture. Examples include crunchy biscuit mixed into the chocolate, ‘popping’ candy, and much more. Functional confectionery products containing biologically beneficial substances are on the rise and their consumption has proven physiological benefits for consumers. While in the past, sweets were consumed occasionally for pleasure and enjoyment, nowadays they are eaten on a daily basis due to the popularity and affordability of the products. Manufacturers may also benefit from enriching confectionery with ingredients that have proven positive physiological effects. Analyzing the general market situation of these functional foods, we have seen dynamic growth over the last ten years. Even in times when the world economy was characterized by depression induced by the financial crisis, development continued uninterrupted. The success of functional products is primarily due to the growing health-consciousness of consumers.

According to Miklós Nagy, Secretary General of the National Association for Packaging and Material Handling, nanotechnology and three-dimensional food printing could also help manufacturers find innovative solutions in packaging technology in the near future. He also pointed out, however, that plastic pollution can be decreased by reducing food waste, and we should not overlook the fact that a significant proportion of micro-plastics enter our surroundings from other sources, such as the degradation and abrasion of tires and outdoor paints.

Everybody can and must do everything in the next decade and in the middle and end of this century to sustainably manufacture sweets that are ethically produced and sourced from quality ingredients to meet the needs of conscious consumers, and that can be enjoyed and integrated into a balanced diet – conference participants agreed in the panel discussion accompanying the speeches.