ISM’s Wide World of Confectionery
New, more spacious venue for the world’s largest
confectionery fair found manufacturers also taking a broader view on
how to market their products. By Mary Ellen
Kuhn and Bernard Pacyniak
Considering that this
year’s International Sweets and Biscuits Fair in Cologne, Germany,
featured 9 percent more exhibitors (1,616) than the show in 2004, and that
the exhibition space increased from 82,000 to 110, 000 square meters,
there’s little doubt that global interest in confectionery continues
It’s also safe to say that many of the visitors
who roamed the expanded exhibition space may have noticed vendors taking a
broader view on how to market their products. Trends that quickly stood out
involved the ongoing and even more intense development of chocolate
products, with increased emphasis on cocoa bean sourcing, dark
chocolate’s nutritional benefits, flavor fusion and intensification,
and broader experimentation with shapes and ingredients.
Fresh from the plantation
Plantation-sourced chocolates, such as those from
Rausch, made news at the trade fair. In 2000, when Jurgen Rausch, managing
director of Rausch, introduced his Plantagen Schololade, he sensed that the
discriminating public was ripe for a new level of chocolate consumption.
His launch of six plantation chocolates (Amazonas,
Arriba, Tobago, Madagaskar, Java and Noumea) with varying cocoa contents
(from 34 percent to 75 percent) touched a nerve with chocolate aficionados.
As Rausch noted in a brief interview, the rapid growth
of the new premium chocolates has prompted the company to commit to
expansion as a means of resolving capacity issues.
At this year’s fair, Rausch displayed two new
additions to the Plantagen line, Santo Domingo fine dark chocolate with a
55% cocoa content and Puerto Cabello, fine whole milk chocolate with a 43%
Cheesy chocolate and mini mountains
Mama Mooo premium chocolate products shown off at the
trade fair by Switzerland’s Chocolat Schonenberger were nothing short
of cheesy. Of course, we mean that in the most positive way possible!
Seriously, though, new items from Schonenberger provide
excellent examples of confectionery shape creativity. Mama Mooo items are
100 percent chocolate, but they’re molded—complete with plenty
of real holes—to replicate wedges or slices of Emmental cheese.
“Switzerland stands for good chocolate and Emmental cheese with
holes, so we combined the two,” reports company executive Rene
The Mama Mooo products are presented in a variety of
ways, including rectangular and triangular packages as well as in a round
tin with eight wedges of chocolate. So far, they have been a hit, not only
in Switzerland, but also in Japan, says Gautschi.
Even more eye-catching than the company’s
“chocolate cheese” are its authentically scaled chocolate
reproductions of the Matterhorn. Packaged in gift boxes—and sold in
Swiss tourist destination gift shops and as business gifts—the
mini-Matterhorns come in two varieties. One is filled with hazelnut
gianduja; the other has a caramel filling.
A vision in white chocolate
Photographs, cartoons and logos recreated in white
chocolate with exacting attention to detail by ChocPix give new meaning to
the term “eye candy.”
The creations—made using a sophisticated
mold-making technology developed by this United Kingdom-based
start-up—were a sight to behold for those who took the time to stop
by the booth at the British Pavilion where they were showcased.
The ChocPix illustrations can be perceived with a
casual glance, but they are best viewed by holding the chocolate up to
bright light. When that is done, the full detail of the illustrations can
“We can create anything absolutely
faithfully, down to the last detail,” says Frank Lia, ChocPix
marketing director. Based on the samples on display at ISM, it’s
clear that he is not exaggerating.
The ChocPix products featured there ranged from novelty
items like a Valentine’s Day lollipop that depicts a woman blowing a
kiss to a 5" X 7" bar on which Cologne’s famous cathedral
Lia says that he and his three partners in the venture
(all friends who worked together at various points in their careers)
believe that ChocPix products would work particularly well in museum shops,
which could use the white chocolate medium as a vehicle for reproducing
famous works of art. ChocPix products have been picked up by a smattering
of specialty confectionery shops in Europe, including the gift shop at the
Chocolate Museum in Cologne.
The entrepreneurs, who will be showing their wares at
the All Candy Expo in June, are looking for manufacturing/marketing
partners to help commercialize the concept around the globe.
“I’ve launched 50 or 60 products for other
companies,” says Lia. Now he’s hoping to make the new product
rollout process a truly personal experience with the launch of ChocPix.
Marzipan confectionery products have been described as
“edible art,” and for the hundreds of carefully crafted items
available from Germany’s Odenwalder Marzipankonditorei GmbH,
it’s a completely accurate description.
The recipe for marzipan is relatively simple;
it’s made mainly from almond bits and sugar. Odenwalder offers the
product in a vast variety of colorful forms—ranging from elegantly
presented fruit-shaped confections to whimsical teddy bears and pig figures
in dozens of guises (pigs are associated with good luck in Germany). This
year, the company even introduced licensed figures from a German television
Odenwalder marzipan products have sold well in Cost
Plus stores in the United States, and the retailer is adding more items for
the coming year, reports Odenwalder’s Katrin Zuber.
However, with the dollar currently valued so low vs.
the euro, the potential to develop more North American export business at
this year’s ISM show was limited.
“Last year, many people from the United States
and Canada were interested in our products,” says Zuber, “but
this year not as much.”
Meanwhile, however, Odenwalder’s marzipan
products continue to be sold in many European countries, as well as in the
Middle East, according to Zuber.
The company prides itself on the high almond content
(40 percent) of its products.
“The quality of the products depends on the
amount of almonds used because they cost more than sugar,” says
Traditional Spanish chocolate
The price of almonds and the devaluation of the dollar
also are issues for the Spanish company, Chocolates Valor S.A., reports
Alberto Duenas, marketing director for Valor’s U.S. division.
A $50 million company in Spain, Valor is particularly
noted for its chocolate bars made with whole Marcona almonds from the
Mediterranean. Unfortunately, last year’s almond crop was not strong,
according to Duenas, so the ingredient cost has jumped substantially.
The company has had a U.S. presence for only three and
a half years, so it has opted for a conservative approach to price
increases. “We raised it a little, but not much because we want to
try to stay competitive,” says Duenas.
In the U.S. marketplace, 100-gram Valor chocolate bars
typically sell for about $2.49. The company is introducing a line of
200-gram sugar-free chocolate bars that carry a suggested retail price of
$5.99. The ability to charge a higher price for the sugar-free bars is a
plus, especially in light of the dollar situation, Duenas notes.
If you think that marshmallows are merely sugary white
blobs best consumed in close proximity to a campfire, then you’ve
never met Michael Sas.
Sas, vice president and general manager of leading
Belgian marshmallow maker Van Damme Confectionery, is a man with a
mission—to introduce U.S. retailers and consumers to Van
Damme’s extensive array of marshmallow offerings.
Van Damme makes marshmallows in a myriad of forms,
including seasonally appropriate shapes and colors—green and white
Christmas-tree marshmallows or pink and white heart-shaped marshmallows for
Valentine’s Day, for example. Chocolate-enrobed Chocomallows come in
7.5-ounce plastic tubs and are flagged “from Belgium,” to
capitalize on their Belgian chocolate content. Then there are Jammies,
which are rounded marshmallows with a fruit filling, and Marshmallow
Scoops, which feature colorful, fruit-flavored marshmallow pieces, each
coated with crystallized sugar and packaged in a cone.
One of the SKUs that Sas believes has the greatest
potential in the U.S. marketplace is Marshmallow Fries, a 7-ounce gusseted
bag of pastel-colored marshmallows shaped like French fries.
Not only do Van Damme marshmallows come in a broader
assortment of flavors and forms than their traditional U.S. counterparts,
but their taste is different as well. They are made with less starch and
thus are softer and less chewy than U.S.-made marshmallows, Sas explains.
Zeta Espacial keeps things popping
It’s true that kids are kids, no matter where
they live. When it comes to the business of keeping kids around the globe
entertained with candy novelties there are regional differences, however,
according to Marta Mas, marketing director for Barcelona, Spain-based Zeta
Mas says there seems to be more emphasis on branded
novelty candy in the United States vs. in Europe where brands are a bit
less important if a product is truly new, fun and different. Within Europe,
she continues, the licensed candy of choice varies considerably from
country to country, so candy makers frequently need to negotiate licensing
agreements on a country-by-country basis.
One brand Zeta Espacial has commercialized around the
globe is Pop Rocks, which the company has been selling since 1979. This
year, Zeta Espacial is upping the play value of the popular kids’
candy with the rollout of Pop Rocks Laboratory, which it bills as “an
edible science experiment.”