A year of promise despite trading challenges
As was demonstrated at ProSweets and ISM last month, there have been some significant finished product launches, as well as equipment within the packaging and wrapping segments of the confectionery market.
There have of course been a number of challenges impacting on the industry, which have included a concerning rise in key ingredients costs, Brexit logistics worries, as well as handling greater consumer demand for healthier ranges and meeting major sustainability and environmental targets.
Despite such factors, the level of interest in product ranges – particularly those offering luxury and premium choices across confectionery and bakery segments, appears to be showing a pattern of continued growth.
This is underpinned by research from Research and Markets.com that forecast the international confectionery market will rise to $237.4 billion by 2023, growing at a healthy annual rate of 3.9 per cent.
While none of us has a crystal ball, it would appear the severe headwinds predicted by some observers may not be quite as onerous as they would have you believe.
However, there’s little room for complacency within a sector that has faced a significant challenge in the form of growing consumer backlash against products with comparatively higher levels of sugar and salt.
In response, the industry is now starting to unveil its response in terms of reformulated products, such as those from Nestle, with its Wowsome bars featuring 30% less sugar, which has required extensive additional product development time.
Other major manufacturers are following in the company’s footsteps, including Mars Wrigley, which has just launched sugar-reduced versions of its Mars and Snickers bars within the past few weeks.
For confectionery production equipment, perhaps of prime importance is the fact there continues to be much hype surrounding Industry 4.0 developments over how the Internet of Things (IOT), will drive further innovation within machine efficiency.
This desire to maximise equipment yields amid a highly competitive market was plainly apparent at a number of international events we attended as a team this past year, including ProSweets, Anuga Foodtec, IBA, as well as Gulfood most recently in Dubai.
From speaking to a number of businesses over the past couple of years, advanced digital monitoring of performance, along with servicing requirements are anticipated to appear major areas of focus for machinery and software developers as we move further forward into 2019.
Clearly, none of this would be possible without the corresponding demand for new products, which is showing no signs of slowing any time soon around the world.
We’ve had an encouragingly strong response from across the industry regarding both equipment news and plans for unveiling new machinery for 2019 – with plenty more surprises set to make their way to market over the next 18 months surrounding Interpack 2020.
While many manufacturers I’ve encountered remain acutely aware of the need to hone their equipment to its full potential in delivering fast, efficient and digitally automated lines, there’s a sense that despite the need for such efficiencies, customers are not seeking to compromise on quality.
Overall, there’s genuine cause for optimism across the industry, which is working as hard as ever to deliver ever more intriguing confectionery offerings with equipment that is evolving along with the relentless drive for greater levels of automation.
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