Olga Martínez is Director of Corporate Affairs at MARS Iberia and President of the Spanish Confectionery Association – Produlce. She is also a member of Alimentaria’s Organising Committee and acts as spokesperson for its Snacks, Biscuits & Confectionery show, one of the liveliest in the exhibition thanks to its extensive, colourful and always original and fun range of products. Martínez highlights the effort made by companies in the sector not only to adapt to the lifestyles of contemporary consumers, but also to make healthier products which are “very special for consumers, as they are associated with pleasure and occasional enjoyment”.
Just by its name, the Snacks, Biscuits & Confectionery show seems to be the most appealing and the most appetizing show at Alimentaria. What reasons will visitors find to confirm this?
Without a doubt, it is one of the most attractive areas of Alimentaria year after year. In this edition, visitors will find a wide range of national and international companies which demonstrate their commitment to innovation with products of the most surprising and, of course, with a lot of flavour and quality.
What news will we find?
Innovation is a basic feature in the sector. We see it every year. It is constant and very varied. In this sense, we are committed to new flavours and surprising proposals. In the same way, we find more and more formats adapted to the current life and new habits of the consumer, as well as an offer more and more adapted to their needs and tastes, as the improvement in the composition of the products shows. In fact, 35% of the innovations developed by the confectionery industry in 2018 were aimed solely at reformulation.
What are the attractions for exhibitors to participate in Snacks, Biscuits & Confectionery?
Alimentaria is the reference trade show in our country, which functions as a perfect meeting point for clients and visitors from all over the world to show them the products we manufacture, as we are one of the main powers in the sector at European and world level in many of our categories. This is clearly an unmissable event.
The presence of Spanish firms is important. Can it be said that Spain is one of the producing powers in this area?
Absolutely, no doubt. In categories like candy and gum, for example, or cookies, our country is one of the most relevant actors. We are a sector well known internationally for its quality, competitiveness, dynamism and innovation.
What other countries are represented, and what trends, exhibitors or countries should we look out for at this year’s show?
In each edition we find surprises and discoveries. That is why I recommend always being on the lookout for all the trends, wherever they come from. On the one hand, mature markets similar to ours can guide us in what the consumer is looking for. It is also interesting to listen to markets in emerging countries that are increasingly demanding, where our sector can also respond to this increasingly sophisticated demand.
Are snacks and treats seen as a second category in the food world?
In fact they are, although it is true that we are talking about products designed to be consumed in moments of indulgence and pleasure. They should – and usually are – consumed sporadically as a space for enjoyment.
Likewise, its contribution as the sixth sector of the food and beverage industry, fifth exporter in the ranking and an important contributor to the country’s economy is undeniable.
What are the main trends in snacks and treats – healthier, more original?
Companies in this category share a great capacity to reach the vast majority of consumers, adapting to their needs and tastes, regardless of their age and without ever giving up pleasure and indulgence.
They do this through a very high profile in impulse channel and modern distribution, adapting their offer to different channels and betting on a greater segmentation of products by type of target according to their demands. We are talking about an innovation that not only focuses its efforts on the offer of new products or flavours, but is also implemented in other phases of production with new formats or packaging that adapt to the different occasions of consumption, doses or places of sale.
What are the great challenges of the sector?
There are many of them, and companies are constantly working to overcome them. In this sense, they are particularly focused on never stopping innovating and continuously adapting to different consumer demands. On the other hand, companies in the sector continue to be committed to internationalisation (especially SMEs) and seek to be at the forefront of sustainability (in fact, the Confectionery Seminar, organised by Produlce in October, focused precisely on this point, to help companies in this task and to publicise the progress made). And, of course, it is an industry that must continue to be able to draw a smile on the face of consumers, aware that they must savour these products with balance and good habits.