The trade fair was a resounding success for the 1,412 suppliers who exhibited at the 42nd International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM) in Cologne from 29th January to 1st February 2012. A decisive factor for the success of the fair was once again the high level of decision making authority of the approximately 35,000 trade visitors who came to ISM from around 130 countries. “ISM is the world’s number one business platform for the trade in confectionery and snack items. This was once again clearly confirmed by this year’s event,” says Katharina C. Hamma, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse. “The continued high prices for energy and raw materials are putting the manufacturers under a lot of pressure,” states Tobias Bachmüller, chairman of the International Sweets and Biscuits Fair Working Group (AISM). “That’s why the extensive discussions and intensified export activities at ISM are indispensable for the sector.” One of the first visitors to arrive at ISM was Ilse Aigner, Germany’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, who opened the trade fair in the presence of Belgian ambassador Renier Willem Joseph Nijskens. Belgium was ISM’s partner country this year. The country’s 135 suppliers and numerous activities at the fair impressively demonstrated the diversity and quality of Belgian chocolate, pralines and baked goods.
All of Germany’s trading firms were represented at ISM with their main purchasing decision-makers. The total number of visitors from Germany even rose slightly. In addition, key trading firms and leading importers sent representatives to ISM from all over the world. Buyers from the convenience and specialist trade also viewed the extensive range of products at the fair.
This year, 1,412 suppliers from 65 countries displayed their products, which included many new items. “I had some very good discussions,” says one chocolate manufacturer. “We had first rate visitors at our stand every day,” said the representative of another company. Non-German manufacturers confirmed that exports were also of great importance to them, as new sales markets are also crucial for suppliers from outside of Germany. “Our exhibitors are extremely happy because they were able to make new and good contacts with companies in sales markets all over the world,” says the person in charge of the USA Pavilion.
At around 64 per cent, the share of trade visitors from abroad was once again very high, with large numbers of foreign visitors being recorded every day. The number of visitors from Asia rose substantially, with particularly large increases being recorded for Japan, Korea and China. Larger numbers of visitors were also registered from North, Central, and South America, as well as from the Middle East. What’s more, the turnout of visitors from Eastern Europe, particularly from Russia, was once again very good.
The buyers were open to new ideas such as sugar confectionery and chocolate items sweetened with stevia. In addition, sustainability and fair trade are becoming more and more important and these aspects are focal points of marketing offensives by multinational corporations as well as by small and medium sized enterprises.
This year, the popular New Product Showcase on the Boulevard showed 112 new products from 78 companies. Journalists selected the top innovations from among these products, with stevia being a key issue in this area as well. The Belgian company Cavalier won first place with its chocolate products containing stevia. The German company ültje came in second with new nut compositions in curry sausage and hamburger flavours. The third prize was awarded to the Austrian company PEZ for its new fruit gum bonbons in an all-new dispenser. The three top innovations are outstanding examples of the sector’s innovative capabilities.
The ISM Chocolate Master special show was very popular once again. This year, the show was performed solely by maîtres chocolatiers from Belgium, who demonstrated true Belgian craftsmanship and first-rate, innovative chocolate designs. Among other things, they thrilled audiences with appetiser pralines refined with Parma ham or onions.
At the ‘Sweet Gifts’ special show, 22 students from the Cologne International School of Design (KISD) presented new ideas for sweets. In an atmosphere reminiscent of the fun fairs of ca. 1900, the students presented lovingly designed creations and unusual ideas. In parallel with this presentation, ISM exhibitors displayed their products at the event.
The trends at ISM 2012
* Chocolate: New compositions with aromas and spices, including salty ingredients, are contrasted by PURE concepts, which focus on the purity of the ingredients as well as their place of origin and cultivation area.
* The sweetener stevia is giving confectionery a new taste. Since December, stevia has also been approved for use in the European Union. Products containing stevia sparked a great deal of interest on the part of trade visitors and were extensively discussed. These products include sugar confectionery (sweets and chewing gum) as well as chocolate items.
* ‘Free from’ products: The range of products for people suffering from allergies and/or food intolerance is being expanded to include chocolate bars and biscuits, for example, as well as hollow figures without lactose, nuts, eggs or gluten.
* Playing and snacking continue to be popular pastimes. The new ideas in this area include entertaining fruit gum dispensers that require agility to use, advent calendars with Christmas apps, numerous licensed products and chocolate-covered surprises.
* Packaging is useful for doing much more than just protecting its contents, which can be sensitive or fragile. Many manufacturers are also using packaging to send out clear aesthetic signals, especially in the high-end sector, where bright colours and cutting edge designs are currently the big attraction.
* In addition, sustainability and fair trade are becoming more and more important, and these aspects are focal points of marketing offensives by multinational corporations as well as by small and medium-sized enterprises. This applies to chocolate as well as to fruit gums and other types of sugar confectionery