Cloetta Fazer profits plunge Finkland-based firm Cloetta Fazer, one of the largest confectioners in the Baltic region, yesterday said profits dropped massively over the January to March period, as the company did not successfully off-set rising commodity prices. Operating profit for the period fell 40.5 per cent to SEK47m, while margins dropped 4.7 percentage points to six per cent, the company said. "The price increases we have already introduced in 2008 have not been sufficient to offset this effect, for which reason additional upward adjustment of prices will be necessary in combination with efficiency enhancement measures," said Jesper Åberg, chief executive officer of Cloetta Fazer. Pick-and-mix sweets also dented the overall results, as sales fell 16 per cent, he added. However, the company did achieve some growth, as sales of top-line brands increased 14 per cent, boosting overall sales to grow six per cent to SEK782m, the company said. FDF confectionery conference begins A new conference focused on issues such as health and indulgence, biofuels, and the rising price of raw ingredients today began in the UK. The event, entitled 'Healthy Indulgence - Challenges and Opportunities', was initiated because the industry has had to face unprecedented changes over the past twelve months, said conference chairman Simon Roulston. "In the area of ingredients we have seen unprecedented price increases for wheat and oils alongside falling commodity stock levels and share prices, and there is also a growing emphasis on environmental issues, for example with a focus on biofuels and carbon neutrality," he said. "These issues add pressure on the industry, but at the same time offer opportunities for innovation." Several industry players have been lined up to speak at the conference, including Nestle, United Biscuits, Mintel and Leatherhead Food International. The conference may prove useful to manufacturers, as the UK confectionery market dropped in value from £4.41bn (€5.65bn) in 2006 to £4.31bn (€5.52bn) in 2007, according to a recent report from Key Note Publications. The report attributes the drop to consumers opting to reduce their consumption of confectionery as well as to mounting competition from other markets offering sweet snacks, such as biscuits, cakes and fruits. New ice-cream flavour combines salty and sweet Added salt may be regarded of something of a 'baddy' in the food industry nowadays, but that has not stopped Haagen-Dazs from adding it one of its ice-cream brands. The US-based firm has no released a new 'Fleur de Sel Caramal' flavour, made using sea salt harvested in Brittany, France. The brand is part of Haagen-Dazs's reserve line, "inspired by global flavours". Other varieties include Brazilian acai, Amazon chocolate and even Hawaiian honey and cream.