With Anuga 2021 about to get underway, ESM spoke to Anne Schumacher, Vice President Food & Food Technology at show organisers Koelnmesse. This article appeared in ESM's September/October 2021 edition.
While this year’s Anuga trade fair will be different to those that preceded it, organisers Koelnmesse are seeking to ensure that both exhibitors and attendees alike maximise the opportunities that it presents.
ESM caught up with Anne Schumacher, Vice President Food & Food Technology at Koelnmesse, to discuss how Anuga 2021 is well positioned to be the springboard to enable food and beverage companies to build back better.
ESM: After the year and a half we have just had, many companies are looking forward to ‘getting back to business’, and with that in mind, Anuga 2021 could be perfectly timed. Do you think this year’s show plays an important role in that recovery?
Anne Schumacher: Definitely. We are convinced that trade fairs such as Anuga offer exhibitors and visitors an ideal platform that helps them accelerate their re-entry to business and achieve rapid success following the pandemic. The industry is telling us that they are very much looking forward to this year’s Anuga after such a long period of absence of trade fairs.
Of course, COVID-19 has changed the trade fair world and accelerated the digitalisation of trade fairs. Trade fairs are finding new formats in the crisis, especially on digital platforms. Nevertheless, the response from our industries is clear: they want to return to the trade fair halls. They want to meet, discover new products and try things out.
The theme of this year’s event is ‘Transform’, and the food industry has certainly been transformed since the start of the pandemic. What does that theme, ‘Transform’, mean to you?
‘Transform’ means change, and changes are initially neither good nor bad. What is always decisive is what we make of such a situation and how we use the change in order to become better or improve certain developments. In doing so, we continuously keep an eye on the current developments within the food and beverage industry.
A number of changes in the food industry were apparent even before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has put these on the agenda much more firmly and had a magnifying glass effect, highlighting once again the volatility of the world’s food ecosystem and the need for global change.
It is no longer purely about how to feed the anticipated 10 billion people in the future, but how a sustainable food transformation can be achieved with the aid of digitalisation and technological progress, and with regard to climate-related challenges. In addition to that, it is also about how the food and beverage industry can build a successful business in the future.
As organisers of Anuga, we are aware of this transition and are thus placing the focus on food transformation this year in the scope of the key topic, ‘Transform’. The largest trade fair for food and beverages worldwide sees itself as an international business network and central communication platform, which is actively accompanying this transformation process and supporting the industry in securing and maintaining economic success.
What new food trends have emerged in the past year that you think will catch the eye at Anuga 2021?
Food trends make the transformation particularly visible. In my view, megatrends such as sustainability, health, convenience and digitalisation are still on the rise and will continue to play a central role in the future, as well as at Anuga.
Many trends have continued, adapting to new requirements of the consumer and bringing new facets of products. At the upcoming Anuga, trends such as alternative meat proteins, clean label, plant-based proteins or foods, and sustainably produced or packaged items will be very much in focus. Furthermore, topics such as cell-based proteins will play a vital role, especially in our congress programme.
This year will see the introduction of a supporting digital format, [email protected] What added value does this bring to the show, and how will this differ to the in-person event?
[email protected] is part of the new hybrid format of Anuga and complements the physical fair with various digital features. This hybrid approach allows visitors to experience attractive trade fair stands and products on the move, anywhere in the world, and to get in touch with their contacts via innovative channels.
For our customers, participation in the fair becomes even more valuable through the implementation of digital formats – the return on investment improves significantly. For example, as well as a physical stand, each exhibitor will also have a digital showroom in order to present themselves to those who cannot attend the fair.
On the ‘Product Stages’, new products and exhibitor highlights can be presented to a certain group of customers. There will also be other target group-specific stages here, for example the ‘Anuga Trade Shows Stage’, the ‘Anuga Start-up Stage’, the ‘Anuga taste Innovation Stage’ and the ‘Anuga Food Trends Stage’, which give exhibitors the opportunity to reach certain target groups that are relevant for them.
We know that nothing is more important than having the right contacts, and new contacts based on recommendations or matching interests are made possible by [email protected]’s ‘Discovery Graph’. All these new digital tools offer exhibitors maximum reach and comprehensive lead generation opportunities.
Do you see the Anuga @home platform becoming a part of future trade shows, beyond this year’s Anuga?
It is clear to us that the needs of our customers will change even faster due to the pandemic. Along with this, trade fairs must also change as platforms for the respective industry. Digitalisation plays a central role in this.
Developing solutions for the hybridisation of future trade fairs and for new digital business models is therefore one of our core tasks in the coming years. I am convinced that the development of digital trade fair formats can no longer be reversed. The challenge in planning future trade fairs will be to optimally combine digital solutions with the strengths of the analogue trade fair in order to create the best possible benefits for the various customer groups.
We believe in the hybrid concept for future fairs, and we continue to further improve our services in order to offer a valuable combination of digital and physical solutions to our customers at Anuga 2023.
For those attending Anuga 2021 in person, what additional hygiene and safety measures are you implementing to ensure that the event takes place successfully?
We have developed the extensive hygiene and safety concept #B-Safe4Business, which enables trade fairs to take place under observance of all conceivable regulations and requirements. Under the four headings, ‘visit safe’, ‘show safe’, ‘meet safe’ and ‘stay safe’, we have summarised measures on our website to protect exhibitors and trade visitors. Among other things, these measures regulate safe interaction at the fair and ensure that companies and trade visitors can relax when deciding to participate.
Precautionary measures include, for example, disinfectant dispensers at all key locations on the grounds, regular cleaning and disinfection of sanitary facilities and other contact surfaces, and the use of state-of-the-art ventilation systems.
For the protection of all trade fair participants, everyone at Anuga 2021 is required to wear mouth/nose protection – with the exception of the seating areas, e.g. at trade fair stands or in the catering area. As another part of our COVID security measures, we are offering exhibiting companies, visitors, service providers and media digital tickets only. It is important that visitors buy their ticket before they come to Cologne.
Accessing the trade fair grounds will require CH3CK, our COVID access control system. There are three options for accessing the trade fair grounds: visitors will need to be fully vaccinated for, recovered from or tested for COVID.
Those travelling from a non-EU country, who therefore have no access to a European Union Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC), but who have been vaccinated with a vaccine approved in the EU, will of course also be granted access to the trade fair grounds.
Anuga is traditionally supported by an extensive conference programme – what should delegates look out for?
The congresses taking place at this years Anuga also tie in with the leading theme, ‘Transform’. For example, the New Food Conference, with a focus on cell-based proteins, is celebrating its Anuga premiere this year.
In addition, a Sustainability Conference, hosted by the Centre for Sustainable Corporate Management (ZNU) will shed light on the complexity of a wide range of sustainability challenges such as climate, packaging, food losses and human rights along the supply chain. Elsewhere, innovation summit Newtrition X picks up topics of change and provides insights into new findings from personalised nutrition.
On a personal level, what are you looking forward to most about Anuga 2021?
To me, personally, Anuga itself is a highlight, but especially being able to open our doors to welcome the international food and beverage industry to Cologne once again. With the hybrid format, we are offering the global food and beverage industry the opportunity to participate in Anuga either physically or digitally.
I’m very much looking forward to some of our new formats within the trade fairs, which pay attention to current trends such as plant-based, clean-label, natural and sustainable nutrition. Also, our event and congress programme is an absolute highlight this year.
Finally, let’s not forget the digital [email protected] platform, which trade visitors should not miss. The functions are diverse, content will still be available on demand after the fair and the new networking possibilities via chat, audio or video offer visitors completely new ways of establishing contacts.