Sweet Meet: Innovations at the world’s largest confectionary trade fair


Reporting live from the ISM COLOGNE

Would you like to try chocolate with sauerkraut? How about a Cola in hard candy soli format? Ever snacked on a vegetable energy bar? Those are some of the “new to the world” products displayed at the ISM International Sweets Messe (German for trade fair) in Cologne, Germany.

Germany is a global confectionery powerhouse (and the world’s largest exporter of sweets). So, no wonder that the nearly 1,500 suppliers from 64 countries come every year to the Rhine river metropolis to show and sell their products to over 32,300 visitors. Cologne in January stands for candy, cookies, chocolates and snacks along with numerous Roman empire artifacts and the dominating 1,000 year old cathedral.

The big new product trends in the sweets industry this year are can be summarized under the motto “light and playful:”

  • lactose free chocolates
  • Vegetable energy bars
  • Fair Trade and Lacotose free Choc Santas
  • barbeque chocolate desserts
  • cheese & chocolate snacks
  • cranberry lebkuchen
  • Jelly Belly snack bar

The winning innovation selected by journalist of trade magazines was the KIDI-Choc concept offering children chocolate with a reduced sugar content, accompanied by a magazine with Russian fairy tales, general knowledge texts and fun puzzles.

Other winning concepts included popular and classic board and card games such as Twister, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, or Poker in and with chocolate. Some producers took classic, sophisticated desserts found in three-star restaurants and transformed them into consumer products. For example, shokoholics can look forward to marzipan bars with rose water or zabaione marzipan with raspberries from Niederegger. Crème brûlée too, is available, for example as a filling in a natural eggshell from Gut Springenheide.

Candy flavour fusions included mango/lime/orange with guarana extract and vitamin ACE, green tea/mint, and tea tree oil or with bergamot flavour. Alongside the exotic secrets that recently caused a sensation, producers are bringing almost forgotten local fruits and herbs back onto the sweet shelf in the form of serviceberries, sloes, quinces and of course, elderberries.

Finally, the science and art of making chocolate from cocoa will be revolutionized over the next years. After years of painstaking work, a major chocolate company has succeeded in defining fermentation for the cocoa sector. Although fermentation has been recognized as a science in many food segments for centuries, it has until now been largely left to chance in the cocoa sector. Using all-new procedures and bacteria cultures that are now being employed worldwide for the fist time, the company has created cocoa of unparalleled harmony and perfection. The cocoa will enable chocolatiers the world over to develop choice products for fans and connoisseurs that will probably usher in a new era of chocolate history.