Blog: Sweet start to the week
Dean Best | 30 January 2012
Waiting for a flight at six o'clock on a cold January morning at Gatwick is not the ideal way to start the working week but, when a confectionery trade show awaits, perhaps one should not complain too much.
Today, just-food joins over 1,400 suppliers and thousands of visitors at ISM, the confectionery industry exhibition that takes place each year in Cologne.
UK confectioners will take their place alongside competitors from Europe, the US and beyond to try to build their presence overseas.
The event is the first major trade fair since the UK government and food industry announced a series of measures to drive international sales; the "exports action plan" is sure to be a talking point among the country's confectioners and snack makers stationed in the halls of the Messe exhibition centre in Cologne.
The tussle for export markets will just be one subject of debate among those present. The pressure of dealing with volatile commodity costs has also been a key concern. The cost of sugar, for example, soured the mood of many a confectioner in 2011. In a statement ahead of ISM, the German confectionery industry association criticised the "intensively regulated and inflexible" EU quotas on sugar for driving up the price of sugar and looked forward to the end of the system in three years time. Brussels has recommended sugar quotas be scrapped by 2015.
Confectioners across Europe will also be chewing over the plans of Cloetta and Leaf International to merge. The deal, announced last year and set to go through in the coming months, will create a company that will generate annual sales of US$820m and could spark more consolidation in the sector.
And, of course, innovation will be another key theme at this year's show. Barry Callebaut, for one, is launching a range of chocolate and cocoa ingredients at ISM, while more consumer-facing companies will also be showcasing new products. German chocolate maker Halloren is exhibiting a raft of new lines, including chocolates sold under a new licence deal with Playboy. Halloren has lined up Playboy Bunnies to present the chocolates. Its stand is likely to be one of the more busy booths over the next three days.
There has been a rise in the number of food companies in the UK filing for insolvency - and the intensification of competition between the country's grocers has been blamed....
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