Consumer concerns about health, wellness and lifestyle will be the main focus of a one day conference to be held in May by the European biscuit and confectionery trade body CAOBISCO.
The organisers say that consumer demands are leading to "unprecedented change" across the confectionery industry and the conference will encourage debate on whose role it is to promote a healthy lifestyle. It will also give practical examples of what the confectionery industry is doing to respond to community and consumer concerns.
Malachy McReynolds, President of CAOBISCO said: "This lifestyle challenge is driving root and branch change in the confectionery industry and its relationships with its suppliers, dependent industries, customers, government and the wider public."
Recent surveys have confirmed the health trend.
According to the Confectionery Market Report Plus 2008, released by Key Note Publications , the growing trend for healthy products has resulted in a drop in the value of the overall UK confectionery market but an increased popularity of dark chocolate, perceived to offer health benefits.
Other surveys have indicated that consumers do not think that food companies are doing enough to promote healthy diets.
According to a public opinion survey commissioned by the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), 82 per cent of Americans think food companies should be making a greater effort to reformulate for more better-for-you products. The survey confirmed that 90 per cent of consumers in Britain and 89 per cent in Spain feel the same way.
CAOBISCO says that diet and lifestyle issues will be considered in the context of EU-level legislation, food labelling, product innovation and advertising.
Reflecting this, specific agenda items include 'Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers'; 'CIAA (Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU) voluntary labelling scheme on guideline daily amounts; Fat optimisation in chocolate; and Responsible marketing communication to support a health lifestyle.
Companies such as Ferrero and Cadbury will explain how they are responding to growing regulation and consumer concerns.
Also, recent innovations and efforts by the industry to meet consumer demands will be showcased.
The Conference will be held on 27 May 2008 at the Renaissance Hotel in Brussels.