All you can sweet

ISM kicked off last weekend with the leading trade fair presenting the latest trends and new products for the sweets and snack sector. As you would expect, a full spectrum of categories – from plant-based to immune-boosting and full of energy products – was on show.

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, ISM’s product innovations played a central role at the trade fair, with around 160 new product entries on show. 

The focus of this year’s new products is naturalness and health, embracing the two areas consumers use as a basis for their purchasing decisions, also as a result of long lockdowns and social distancing. The trend towards products with additional health benefits is also getting a real boost. This is confirmed by ISM partner Innova Market Insights, which records a growing number of new product launches with health benefits in its databases.

Awareness of the antioxidant content and potential immune health benefits of snacks containing dark chocolate and superfruits such as pomegranate or goji berries will increase, we’re told. At ISM 2022, for example, product innovations such as probiotic biscuits that promote digestion and immune-boosting crisps made from pulses and acerola made their debut.

The popularity of plant-based products and ingredients is driving innovation among confectionery and snack manufacturers. This results in creative scope for new ways of enriching products with dietary fibre. Ingredients such as fruit powder, nuts and vitamins, but also botanical extracts, functional dietary fibres or protein concentrates based on pulses are being used. ISM put forward a wide range: from hand-picked, fair-trade organic macadamia nuts with a smoky barbecue flavour to nut snacks made from almonds, hazelnuts and cashews coated with freeze-dried fruit and thin chocolate or cashews enriched with natural vanilla.

The development of new confectionery products in the area of clean labelling is also one to watch. With consumers keen to know where the products come from, how they are made and what ingredients are used, natural confectionery and snacks are the preference over and above highly processed foods that contain artificial ingredients. This tie into this year’s ISM having a significant number of products labelled as additive-free, organic, natural/natural or GMO-free.

More consumers are making decisions to choose healthy, plant-based foods that taste authentic and have a minimalist list of ingredients. When opting for chocolate, sweets or fruit gums, we just expect more from our confectionery and snacks than indulgence. Sweets and snacks should no longer surprise with exotic flavour combinations and fruity aromas alone, but support an active and conscious lifestyle with sugar-reduced or purely plant-based variants being the norm.

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Food and Drink Technology