Gama spoke to Sabine Schommer, Director of ISM, ahead of the latest edition of the confectionery and snacks tradeshow.
What are your expectations for this edition of ISM?
ISM offers the industry the opportunity to look beyond current challenges and focus instead on finding solutions, discussing ideas and getting inspiration – all that from 90,000 square metres of exhibition space! It’s here that market-leaders and smaller players alike come together to represent the full spectrum of international confectionery and snacks, as well as suppliers in the industry. Meanwhile, the supporting programme is as colourful as our exhibitors are diverse: while Sunday‘s “New Products” is all about innovations, start-ups and reformulations, Monday’s “New Strategies” showcases new approaches to procurement and other opportunities. On Tuesday, the focus will be on “New Technologies”, looking for instance at how to increase energy efficiency in supply chain transparency. Elsewhere, the top 10 trends for 2023 will be featured across every day of the show. All in all, by the end of the fair we should have a far more precise idea of how the world of confectionery and snacks is set to change in the coming years. In this sense, it’s my pleasure to welcome you to ISM 2023!
What would you say are the biggest confectionery industry trends for 2023?
Health continues to play an important role in confectionery and snacks, including a stronger trend towards healthier confectionery and snacks made from natural ingredients. In addition, plant-based products and ingredients are set to remain popular in 2023. This provides scope for creative new ways of enriching products with dietary fibre, for which ingredients such as fruit powder, nuts and vitamins, but also botanical extracts, functional fibre and protein concentrates based on legumes can be used. The return to traditional and natural food products that are free from genetically-modified ingredients is also worth mentioning: natural sweets and snacks being preferred to heavily processed foods that contain artificial ingredients. We‘re also seeing a trend towards upcycling, such as through the use of the whole cocoa pod rather than just the beans, addressing the sustainability and zero waste agenda. In the chocolate sector, manufacturers are also turning to attributes such as fair trade, reduced sugar and vegan, because these are seen as increasingly important for climate protection, especially among younger consumers.
What are the key challenges facing the confectionery industry?
As we know, the world is facing immense economic challenges, and the confectionery and snacks industry is no exception. Increasingly, these are changes that affect actors along the entire food supply chain. From a social, political and economical perspective, we have never been so inter-connected as we are today. Global economic networks give us access to a wider range of goods, but on the other hand they also place a high reliance on supply chains functioning smoothly. Over the course of the pandemic in particular we became painfully aware of what can happen when these supply chains become unstable.
Beyond this, rapidly changing consumer demands are posing ever greater challenges for companies. The expectation is personalized products that can be produced quickly and in an optimised way, without compromising on quality. This is accompanied by an increasing social awareness among consumers in respect of sustainability and climate protection, with value placed on resource-saving packaging and natural raw materials.
How is ISM responding to these challenges?
At Koelnmesse, we believe the political and social upheaval the pandemic caused must be translated into both a mission and an opportunity. This year’s main theme is “Encourage. Enable. Excite!”, focusing on challenges in areas such as climate, raw materials, energy, supply chains, logistics, health and digitalization, as well the associated opportunities for the industry.
As a result of the dramatic spike in raw material, energy and logistics costs, as well as consumer behaviour becoming more unpredictable, together with our sponsoring associations we decided to postpone ISM this year to April. ProSweets Cologne, which has also been historically held in January, will take place as a special edition at the heart of ISM. Our exhibitors and delegates have welcomed this decision and the results speak for themselves: so far, ISM has had registrations from 72 countries across every continent, and an increase of about 50% presently compared to our 2022 event. In addition, more than 30 joint stands representing 25 countries and regions are already confirmed. I am very pleased to see such strong commitment from the industry, even in difficult times.
In its role as the leading international trade fair for the sweets and snacks industry, the ISM engages actively in these market events, thus shifting the focus in the coming year more to important content and discussions revolving around these challenges with the main theme of “ISM – Encourage.Enable.Excite!”
It offers you impulses, innovations, exciting networking, top-class exhibitors and expert visitors in a unique combination worldwide.