The theme of transformation will run through Anuga 2021 "like a thread", according to Oliver Frese, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse, as the world's biggest food trade fair held a digital press conference for international media.
According to Frese, this year's Anuga, which takes place from 9 to 13 October in Cologne, will be a hybrid edition, combining both the traditional 'ten trade fairs in one' concept as well as a new digital platform, Anuga@Home.
"Meeting in person is always a better experience," he explained. "But we know that not everybody will be able to travel, so we want to make it possible for everybody to join Anuga digitally."
This dual approach means that the show will potentially have its largest audience to date, both in-person and digitally, and should set the template for future trade fairs. Online attendees will be able to access seminars, corporate and product presentations and even a 'virtual café'; as near to the real experience as can be achieved.
"The digital world is definitely here to stay," Frese said.
He added that he was "absolutely optimistic" that this year's event would go ahead as planned, and that he was "looking forward to 9 October, when we open our doors".
The key theme of Anuga 2021 is 'Transform', and the press conference also featured a number of participants who analysed just how the food and beverage industry has been 'transformed' in recent years, particularly during the pandemic.
Daniel Anthes, trend and sustainability expert at the Frankfurt Future Institute, gave a keynote presentation, in which he explored how the innovations of today are going to serve us well as the world's population grows to an estimated 10 billion people by 2050.
"Food is an ambassador of change in society," he explained. "That's why it's important to zoom out and look at the drivers of change – what are the mega trends that will impact how we eat?"
A panel discussion also featured, featuring input from industry experts
Franz-Martin Rausch, general manager of the German Association of the Retail Grocery Trade (BVLH); Stefanie Sabet, managing director and Head of the Brussels Office, Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE); Karl Wehner, managing director at Alibaba in the DACH region, as well as Eastern Europe and Turkey; and Timo Recker, co-founder and CEO of Next Gen, a plant-based meat manufacturer.