just-food last week flew to Cologne to bring you the news and views from the ISM confectionery trade show. Here, we spoke with manufacturers including Barry Callebaut, Guylian and United Confectioners, amongst others. Elsewhere, earnings results poured in with Hershey outlining its ambitions for global expansion and Mead Johnson highlighting its progress in China.

“Consumers have learnt by the trade that promotions are coming so they wait to buy” – Mieke Callebaut, marketing and sales director for Guylian Europe and the USsays it has had to adapt to the trading environment in the UK in order to compete effectively.

“Chocolate is probably one of the best industries to have survived the crisis because people like to have their reward” – Barry Callebaut marketing director for western Europe, Sofie De Lathouwer says the company has operated well through the economic downturn.

“While we fully acknowledge the first half challenge we faced in China, we made excellent progress in recovering market share in the second half” – Mead Johnson president and CEO Stephen Golsby emphasises a turnaround in the company’s fortunes in the key Chinese market on its earnings call.

“They didn’t tell us until a day before they announced it and yet weeks before they must have known what they were finding” – Lord Rooker said the Food Standards Agency were not told about the horse meat contamination until a day before the results were made public.

“The first Spar stores in the UAE offer an exceptional quality fresh shopping experience to our customers. They raise the bar on supermarket standards in the UAE” – Spar MD Gordon Campbell says the Spar outlets it will open in the United Arab Emirates are superior to the local competition.

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“We see some level of [M&A] activity. I would say it’s not as robust as we’ve seen in some years, but we still have some good targets and continue conversations at expanding our footprint” – McCormick’s CEO, Alan Wilson, says acquisitions are right up there alongside share buy-backs as a potential way of returning cash to shareholders in the year ahead.

“Expanding in Europe is trial by error. If we try to launch a brand internationally, we can run into cultural problems” – United Confectioners export director Timothy Odenwald explains that the company’s attempts to expand overseas have not been without its problems, including that of securing trademarks overseas.

“A greater proportion of that capital [expenditure] is non-US in 2013… [we] need to expand for volume growth in Asia specifically” – Hershey CEO John Bilbrey indicates it is increasing the proportion of its capital investment spent outside the US.

“Within major global groups we expect further fine tuning, bolt-on acquisition and non-core disposals, but we are less certain about scope for mega-mergers noting the re-rating of equity and few distressed companies” – Shore Capital analyst Clive Black gives his outlook on conslidation in the food sector in 2013.

“Innovation isn’t something to be done in the summer, ready for winter-time – it needs to be invested in constantly, to always be exploring what is possible and what can improve an experience for consumers” – Matthew Knight, strategic technologies director for media planners Carat UK, says manufacturers that turn away from investing in innovation do so at their peril.

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