Fitness and health have been central themes in the food industry for some years and have now been fully embraced by the international confectionery industry, which offers a wide range of products that are low in fat or sugar, enriched with vitamins, nutrients or herbal extracts or good for digestion. Candies with vitamins A, C and E, sugar-free drops with over 40% real fruit, vitamin-rich fruit jellies and sugar-free chocolates and candies were some of the healthy sweets promoted at ISM.

A coconut jelly high in roughage and low in calories made its way from Taiwan, whereas Swiss firm Star Trade made its mark with “the first and only hemp candy in Switzerland: Swiss Cannabis Pastilles.” The organic sector has become a fully fledged confectionery segment in its own right, in particular in the chocolate and baked goods categories.

For those who occasionally prefer to indulge in delicacies in spite of their concern with health, the confectionery industry is increasingly offering small-sized but highly luxurious and high-quality chocolates and pralines. Quality in compact form (“less is more “) is a trend that is visible throughout the chocolate category, from pralines to bars and tablets. In this context, manufacturers are stressing the importance of quality ingredients as well as quality production and presentation methods. Many chocolate products and pastries are touted as regional specialties and often claim to be ‘hand made.’

Sales of seasonal products, always important for the confectionery industry, have continued to grow in recent years, with manufacturers eager to push new gift occasions on consumers. With Europeans having already been sold to some extent on Valentine’s Day, marketeers in Europe are now heavily promoting Halloween as an occasion to liven up the dreary autumn season. Confectionery producers have teamed up with toy manufacturers to supply children with ghoulish sweets and toys, of which there were a great many to be seen at ISM.

In recent times confectionery producers have very cleverly added value to traditionally low-priced children’s products by combining candies with toys or extra functions. A water pistol filled with sweets and a toy bank that dispenses candy and also helps kids save money are two of the literally hundreds of such products on display at this year’s ISM. Extremely sour-tasting sweets and licensed characters are also two important selling points in children’s products.

In fine baked goods, the most important engine of growth is probably the convenience trend. Small-sized packages and individually wrapped pastry items are very much in demand. Another trend seems to be an increasing desire by consumers to make their own pastries and baked goods, but preferably with the help of easy-to-use baking mixtures and ready-to-use coatings and sauces, which manufacturers are eager to supply.

By editorial team in Cologne