8 Fantastic Things to Discover at ISM

23 Jul 2021

ISM has never missed a year in its 50-year history. Internationale Süßwarenmesse (ISM) first hit the scene in 1971 as a very small exhibition, which managed only a few hundred exhibitors. Very modest beginnings have led to an incredible, influential international trade fair that you can’t afford to miss. ISM sets the tone for the coming year. Its place at the start of the calendar year determines how your year is going to shape up, what the big sellers are going to be and which products are at the forefront.

The fair’s importance is firmly reflected in the attendance numbers. The halls at Koelnmesse see upward of 38,000 international trade visitors from all over Europe and the rest of the world. You’d not be surprised to learn there are 144 countries represented. Visitors tend to come from all parts of the industry. ISM counts in its audience pastry shops, cafés, bakeries, confectioneries and trade chains, food chemists, nutrition scientists and vending machine operators. The big business lies in the world-leading retail chains, of which there are Kaufland, Kroger, Metro, Coop, Whole Foods, Edeka, Aldi, Carrefour, Amazon, Walgreens and Costco.

You’ve traditional sweets and snacks leaders like Germany, USA, the UK, France, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Turkey and Greece. In recent years, China has also climbed to a top position as a major market with a sizeable portion of the over 1770 exhibitors to exhibit at ISM. The brands to make a name for themselves range from Ritter, Roshen and Krüger to Cemoi, Cloetta Jelly Belly and Toms Confectionery.

ISM wouldn’t be as popular, if it wasn’t for its complete domination of the sweets and snacks sectors. You have an incomparable product portfolio, which features every single possible type of snack, sweets and confectionary. The exhibition grounds highlight select flavors of confectionery, frozen confectionery, candies, ready to eat fruit snacks, ice cream, baked goods, chocolate products, chocolates, cocoa, savory snacks, snack products and vegetable snacks. Whatever you wish to buy or whatever niche you occupy as an exhibitor, there’s a place for you to shine.

We also can’t stress about the impact on your brand recognition and visibility as ISM enjoys high international interest overall. Journalists travel from near and far to document proceedings and help spread news of product launches and announcements. In previous editions, organisers have counted more than 600 journalists from 27 countries in attendance. This media coverage resulted in thousands upon thousands of articles and video materials.

Every new edition of ISM is an opportunity to discover and celebrate a new flavor and a surprising product, which stands head and shoulders above the rest. The New Product Showcase is a staple for the trade fair – and it’s frequented by buyers, marketers and journalists. Everyone is curious to find out the fresh three winners and competition is quite stiff. Last edition saw remarkable interest from exhibitors. 110 products were entered into the showcase by 70 exhibitors, who represented 20 nations in total. Why not join in on the fun? Next year it could be you!

On a larger scale, ISM explores trends in products and flavours, which are taking the world by storm. The Trend Court@ISM is perhaps the most informative of all, because not only do you get a comprehensive overview of emerging trends, but it’s also where you can meet start-ups and sample their forward thinking creations. Technology has certainly emboldened creatives to take risks and freely experiment.

Another popular feature is Finest creations - hand-crafted. Here the spotlight falls on artisanal specialities and small volume business only. As consumers move from large manufacturers to the more trustworthy and higher quality small businesses, hand-crafted sweets especially chocolates are incredibly sought after. Come face to face with the names that are leading this movement and add your voice to the choir. It’s the perfect opportunity to gain recognition and stand out.

There’s going to be a lot more made available when the time comes as every edition of ISM has its own distinct flavour profile and programming. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers have taken steps towards modernising and adapting to the current changes and demands for inclusive, safe participation. That’s why trade visitors can also access ISM and benefit from its platform via the ISM @Home.

That’s only scratching the surface. The full experience of being at ISM is something that can’t be fully put into words and is worth the trip.