Tradition versus trendiness. Content versus cosmetics Snacking versus satisfaction. Global versus local. Conglomerates versus cottage industries Hedonism vs. health. These and countless other conflicting trends were prevalent at the International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM) gathering held in Cologne on January 27-30.
So too were 1,535 exhibitors, and about 28,000 visitors, 80% and 60%, respectively, coming from abroad. In searching out innovations and developments, these confectionery industry buyers, brokers, exporters, retailers and manufacturers found that the industry's sophistication and size could easily accommodate divergent as well as parallel trends.
Just as ISM can showcase products from more than 73 countries without blinking an eye, so too can the industry accommodate a broad range of influences, be it the use of absinth as a trendy alcoholic filling in truffles or children's outrageous novelty items, such as grossly misshapen and enlarged Lip Pops or transferable Tongue Tattoos.
Moreover, past national and geographic boundaries are disappearing. The axiom, "Think global, act local," has a new corollary, "Expand locally, create globally."
Take for example, Halloween, that Celtic celebration transformed by the United States into a confectionery bonanza. Slowly, steadily, the concept -- thanks to mass media -- has gained acceptance in Europe. Even Germany, that bastion of confectionery tradition, has embraced the Halloween premise of costumes and candies.
Interestingly, what seemed like a Pokemon's world just a few years ago has given way to dragons and wizards, a la Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings' cinematic successes.
But it's not just a kid's world, although Disney continually preaches that concept. Adults, in their desire for both indulgence and health, are spurting confectioners to come up with a broad range of products that address one or the other, sometimes both.
If some of these trends sound familiar, no …