Opening Shots: Now's the time
Who jumpstarted 2008? Since the International Sweets & Biscuit (ISM) Fair in Cologne at the end of January, the year has raced forward with a variety of events, accelerating life in the fast lane by quantum leaps.
And now it’s time for interpack 2008, the largest confectionery processing and packing show held every three years. Undoubtedly many of our readers have made plans to attend the show, which provides the opportunity to not only eyeball the latest developments in automation and technology, but to gain a better perspective as to where the industry is headed.
But just in case some of you haven’t noticed, it’s critical – now more than ever – for midsized, and yes, even smaller confectionery operations to upgrade their processing and packaging operations.
And it’s not just a case of making things run faster, although efficiency is a must. All those headlines regarding commodity increases weren’t simply sensationalism. Rising costs have made it imperative for supply chain and operations managers to squeeze as many savings as possible from production.
Squeezing costs isn’t the only concern, however. As our coverage of the ISM show details, consumers are increasingly looking for higher quality products, authenticity regarding ingredient sourcing, convenient as well as luxe packaging and what I’d called a bit of lagniappe, that wonderful Creole word that means an unexpected bonus.
This means confectioners are being pushed to provide the public with an extra delight, something extradordinary, be it flavor intensity, an energy boost or an easier-to-handle consumer format.
As a result, manufacturers – as has been detailed by this magazine in the past – need to be more flexible. They also need to be creative, which often requires new processing techniques, retrofitting of existing equipment or adding in existing production lines.
During Candy Industry’s 10th annual European Suppliers Roundtable, it became clear that today’s leading ingredient and equipment suppliers view their customers as partners in the innovation process.
As one executive after another remarked, this collaboration is critical to future development; it stimulates ideas and concepts into what many of us will see on the floor in Düsseldorf during the 2008 interpack show.
As last month’s and this month’s cover stories attest, the competitive marketplace rewards those who recognize the fast-moving currents carrying confectionery sales throughout the varied retail landscape.
Be it Dynamic Chocolates, Brown & Haley or any other midsized confectionery manufacturer, the path toward sustainable growth requires a combination of risk taking as well as nuts-and-bolts decision-making.
Every operations executive knows full well what his or her strengths and weaknesses are on the plant floor. And despite the gloom and doom atmosphere hovering over the U.S. economy, visionaries and simply people with an experienced business sense recognize that now is the time to exploit strengths and shore up weaknesses.
In today’s world of sensory overload, where information overwhelms, insight is a rare commodity. And while suppliers have their own agendas, namely to make a living selling their wares, they know perfectly well that satisfied clients are the best guarantee for future success. Moreover they are more than willing to share their knowledge and expertise in a mutually beneficial partnership.
Thus, such triennial gatherings as interpack 2008, as well as annual events such as All Candy Expo, IFT, Fi Europe, Pack and Process Expo and others too numerous to mention, provide the opportunity to initiate, maintain and expand these partnerships.
In a world where there are no guarantees, except one’s ability to react to and capitalize on change, now is the time to partner. Leave the excuses to those you pass by.