We talk to CAOBISCO’s president Patrick Poirrier about the organisation he heads and its overall importance. Patrick Poirrier is the third-generation to head the family company CÉMOI Group. CÉMOI Group is a French specialty chocolate and confectionery manufacturer and cocoa processor. Besides his mandate as CAOBISCO President, Poirrier is also a key figure in Alliance 7 (a French Association), where he holds the posts of President of the Raw Materials Committee and Vice President of the Chocolate Sector.
Who is your industry ‘hero’, someone who influenced you to get involved or to achieve goals?
Like Obelix, I fell into the magical potion when I was a child! Chocolate manufacturing was my destiny. If I had to choose one character who inspired me in my professional life, it is Gustave Eiffel. I admire the passion and creative genius he has shown to go beyond his own limits as well as beyond the technical constraints of his time.
What proportion of Europe’s chocolate, biscuit and confectionery industry is apportioned to Caobisco members? How many members are biscuit makers?
Our membership consists of 17 National Associations and 8 direct member companies, including Mondelez (16,9% market share of the biscuit market in Europe) and Barilla (5,6%). These figures are from Rabobank. Besides this, it is a difficult question to answer diversity in our member’s portfolios: some companies manufacture biscuits as well as chocolate. There is also the variety in the sectoral representation of our National Associations: some of them represent not only the industry but also artisans.
Changing the focus to biscuits and biscuit manufacturing, how does Caobisco support this sector?
Our mission is equal for all the sectors we represent:
What are the goals for yourself and CAOBISCO in the medium to long term regarding the industry?
The chocolate, biscuit and confectionery industry is a prominent food sector in Europe which works hard to maintain good economic performance in terms of employment, turnover and exports. However, Europe is a mature market and key indicators recently showed that the industry’s competitiveness is under more and more pressure. So a key priority for CAOBISCO is to boost the competitiveness of our businesses and facilitate trade in agricultural commodities and finished goods worldwide.
How does EU legislation, particularly in regard to food and health issues, affect CAOBISCO’s objectives?
The food industry is one of the most highly regulated sectors in Europe. The Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers for instance contains significant legal and regulatory developments that have extensive implications for our sectors in particular for SMEs. Caobisco has called to the Members of the European Parliament to require impact assessments to measure the consequences for manufacturers of EU regulations and implementing measures (e.g. origin labelling).
It is also extremely important to us to avoid discriminatory and punitive measures such as food taxes or forms of ‘health warnings’ at European or national level. Such instruments cause market distortion and limit competitiveness. Caobisco encourages adopting a holistic and constructive approach to health issues. It also strongly advocates for science-based policy and regulatory measures.
Is the ongoing consumer demand for healthy options in snacking being addressed?
The chocolate, biscuits and confectionery industry is innovative and provides a choice of products and portion sizes to meet consumers’ needs and expectations.
The industry is also making voluntary commitments to act on areas within its responsibility. These commitments can be individual/sectoral initiatives or through a joint engagement with public authorities and other stakeholders, e.g. through the EU platform for action on diet, physical activity and health.
How does CAOBISCO influence public policy, at European
Created in 1959 CAOBISCO is based in Brussels and has a long experience of advocacy. It has built sound relationships with EU decision-makers and stakeholders thanks to its constructive approaches and openness to dialogue. Its credibility, based on its thorough knowledge of the industry and European procedures as well as on its solid network, allows Caobisco to contribute to the shaping of regulations and to understand the direction of future regulation and the impact that it will have.
What are the benefits of being a CAOBISCO member?
CAOBISCO notably supports its members in their businesses operations through regulatory monitoring, analysis and support; interpretation of existing regulation; providing specialist advice on technical & commercial issues, as well as input on specific technical subjects (eg acrylamide). It also helps to shape future business strategy through providing notably intelligence gathering regarding political trends and influences as well as potential new Regulations, knowledge sharing and thought leadership.
Finally we are there to provide assistance on sensitive communication issues and in providing networking opportunities to share best practice in non-competitive areas.