It’s easy to find Koelnmesse, the sprawling trade center on the east bank of the Rhine, opposite Cologne’s famous cathedral. Once there, it’s much harder to find your way inside the complex with its multiple exhibition halls and concessions. Two days into this year’s Prosweets/ISM convention and I’m still ‘lost’.
Colleagues had warned me of its vastness beforehand, but with over 17,000 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors expected this year, I can see why it is an important event on the international sweets and snacks calendar.
And it’s not just a talking shop; exhibitors I spoke to have all expressed a positive reception for their goods and wares, with order books already filling up.
Thomas Schmidt, marketing director for BENEO, who are launching a new healthier toffee using a sugar substitute ingredient called ‘Palatinose’, says response to the ingredient “has been very good.
“With Palatinose, we are really in this business for the long-run because people still have to grasp the concept of a lower blood glucose profile but as the topic becomes ever more prevalent, and the knowledge growing with consumers, we will see significant success in the future,” he said.
What ProSweets does well is give producers of sweets and snacks a unique and concentrated overview of machinery, technology, raw ingredients and materials as well as a wealth of new ideas and contacts for the development of new products.
Karel Strubbe, representing processing manufacturer Tomra says it was also his, and his company’s first time at ProSweets/ISM, saying interest in Tomra’s new state-of-the-art processing equipment has been very good so far.
“We have seen a very wide range of people, very international, not only German customers, and had enquiries from companies from Spain and South America, for example, so we are very happy so far,” he says.
Together with ISM, the world's most important trade fair for sweets and snacks, which is taking place simultaneously, the entire value chain of sweets production and sales gather every year in Cologne for ‘a worldwide unique constellation with extensive synergies for the entire industry’.
Representatives from the confectionery industry and press visit the trade fair to check-out current trends for the year ahead and ProSweets certainly deliveries with an early bang in the new year.
One of the most important topics this year was ‘Reformulation for Sweets & Snacks’ covered by the German Agricultural Society (DLG), which looked into reformulation and insights into the challenges, opportunities and risks while offering visitors solutions with a guided tour, followed up with a discussion in the Speakers’ Corner area.
As Stubbe says, the foodtec side of the trade fair is an important element for companies like Tomra as processes become increasingly automated.
Industry 4.0 technologies
ProSweets Cologne demonstrates how far the Industry 4.0 technologies (a name given to the current trend of automation) have already advanced and what the next stages are on the way to the ‘Smart Factory’, where machines are digitally networked to improve health, safety and efficiency through self-diagnosis and error elimination.
One of the most popular attractions by far this year was the Barry Callebaut stand, showcasing its latest ruby chocolate invention, which is now available in over 40 countries – a figure that looks sure to increase judging by the number of international visitors checking it out.
Many of the top chocolate-making countries are represented this year with impressive stands from the USA, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Turkey, Brazil - and Great Britain, perhaps the last time it will showcase as a EU country?