After three years of stagnation and decline, the German confectionery and baked goods industry seems to have landed on its feet again and is even showing signs of recovery. Figures supplied by the Federation of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) in Bonn at the the International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM) in Cologne show that in particular the German sugar confectionery industry recorded significant growth in the first nine months of 2000. Growth in the fine baked goods sector was modest whereas results for the chocolate industry were mixed.

The sugar confectionery sector benefited more from the overall economic upturn than other branches of the confectionery industry. In volume, sugar confectionery production in Germany grew by 3.4% in the first three quarters of 2000. Production value increased even more, by 3.9%, to almost DM2bn.

Imports of sugar confectionery grew at a significantly higher pace than exports. Imports were up 7.9% in volume and 6.6% in value, exports by 1.6% in volume and 1.8% in value. Total imports and exports were virtually equal in value at over DM400m. Per capita consumption was up 5% at 3.98 kg in the first three quarters, representing a value of DM23.07 (+4.9%).

Results were much more mixed in the German chocolate confectionery industry, which for some years now has fallen upon hard times, in particular since the economic crisis in Russia, which in the past was the largest importer of German chocolate products but these days imports only negligible quantities of German chocolate products (1,700 tons or DM 10.1m in the first three quarters, a further decline of 36% in volume and 17% in value).

Exports of German chocolate to other EU Member States were down as well (-15% in volume), but exports to non-EU countries grew by 11.9% in volume and 14.5% in value. German chocolate producers were particularly successful in the US, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Turkey. Trade with other Eastern European countries, in addition to Russia, was disappointing.

Imports of chocolate products dropped significantly between January and September: minus 26% both in value and in volume. Domestic chocolate production was up 3.4% in volume in the first nine months, but down 1.4% in value.

The turnover generated by the German fine baked goods industry grew 1.2% in the first ten months of 2000. Production value grew 1.9% (to DM2.75bn). Export volume was up 26% and the value of exports rose 21% to DM600m. Imports declined significantly in the same period. The 100-or-so industrial producers of fine baked goods showed themselves highly concerned by the continuing increases in costs of important raw materials, packaging materials, logistics, energy and labour, which are putting pressure on their profit margins.

The same complaints could be heard from chocolate and sugar confectionery producers. In particular the weak euro has led to higher prices of many raw materials (eg nuts, vegetable fats and fruit preparations). In addition, dairy products such as milk powder and butter have become much more expensive and price increases have been announced for sugar.

Spokesmen from the German confectionery industry said that it was "unavoidable" that they would raise their prices substantially in 2001, but they had to admit that the continuing price wars in the German food retail sector made it very difficult for them to do so.

However, they were encouraged by a recent report from the German association of supermarkets and wholesalers, showing that confectionery retail sales increased by around 2.5% in 2000. An association spokesman predicted that fruit gums, chewing gum, lollipops and snacks would remain top sales items in 2001 as they had been last year. In addition, the confectionery industry's hopes are pinned on the German government's pledge to increase people's disposable income in 2001.

By just-food.com in Cologne