By John Saulnier, FrozenFoodsBiz.com Editorial Director
It’s been a full week since the 100th anniversary of Anuga concluded in Cologne, and I’m still plowing through copious notes, shuffling through stacks of brochures and sell sheets, and plugging USB memory sticks into my computer keyboard in an earnest effort to process the information overload. Fully digesting all the data, while also paring down a couple extra kilos personally gained while grazing at the expo, all will take more time, which means that articles about the most important B2B food show in the world will continue to be posted in the days ahead.
Meanwhile, let it be reported that among the major trends prominently displayed in multiples at the fair were plant-based faux meat products on one side of the front burner, and on the other side real meat Greek and Turkish style döner kebabs made of veal, beef and poultry. Also in high profile were bumper crops of healthy eating and sustainable vegetable and fruit offerings, a traffic jam of street eats, lots of snacks and appetizers, and ethnic dishes from all parts east, west, north and south.
“As the world’s largest and most important trade fair for food and beverages, Anuga is not only a platform for the export business of the German food industry, but also the leading global trade fair for innovations and trends within the food market,” said Christoph Minhoff, chief executive director of the Federation of German Food and Drinks Industries (BVE). “We are more innovative than any other branch of industry, as every year over 40,000 new products are introduced onto the market in Germany alone.”
The roving FrozenFoodsBiz.com tasting crew, consisting of yours truly and colleague Malcolm Cameron, saw and sampled numerous examples of what he Mr. Minhoff was talking about throughout the expansive fairground – especially on both levels of Hall 4, where frozen food companies encamped in large number from October 5-9 to promote their portfolios and serve buyers and food tourists alike. Among products that impressed this writer – and needless to say there were far too many to mention in this space at the moment – are:
- Slices of handmade, traditional Greek pizza topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms, gouda, feta, tomato, olives and pepper from Ellnik Nostimia. A shout-out to Simantidis Dimitrios is in order for allowing us to come back for second, third and fourth helpings over the duration of the show.
- Eye appealing and buy appealing Asia Slider Veggie Mushroom appetizers from Grossostheim-Ringheim, Germany-based Salomon-FoodWorld certainly made the grade. The mini snack boasts Uruchi rice with a filling of king trumpet mushroom and crispy vegetables, spice and soy sauce. Just thaw and the easily decorated finger food is ready for consumption.
- Vici brand Gyoza with Snails and Truffle Filling from the Kaunas, Lithuania-headquartered Viciunai Group. Thanks go to Rob Schreur, who kindly invited us to take a load off at the stand to cool our heels for a spell. There we quickly discovered that the hot dumplings pair particularly well with a glass of cold beer. The same goes for Viciunai’s extensive range of surimi, salmon, breaded fish and pizza products.
- Kebab Piadina is a tasty offering from Dostlar’s “Kebab meets Italy” line of brick oven-based variations of traditional Anatolian dishes. As is the case with all items from the Schiffweiler, Germany-based company, Piadina ingredients are Halal and IFS-certified.
- Semi Fried Falafel from Egyptian vegetable and fruit specialist Givrex. This relatively new addition to the Alexandria-headquartered company’s portfolio is especially apropos, since the product is widely believed to have originated in Egypt more than a century ago. It has long been enjoyed throughout North Africa, the Levant and the Greater Middle East, where chickpeas are often substituted for fava beans as the main ingredient in the recipe. Fruit Smoothies, strong black coffee and a comfortable corner in which to sit down were also enjoyed at the Givrex stand. The hospitality of Mansour family members Eric and his sister Monique was, as always, greatly appreciated.
- It was “love at first bite” at the Frostkrone booth where Lava Bites made a big splash with show-goers. Chicken Pops 2.0 and Crack ’n Cheese Cubes also proved to be hot stuff.
- Weighing in at 15 grams apiece, the pre-fried Lava Bites are loaded with creamy cheddar cheese and hot-kicking jalapeños. The Reitberg, Germany-headquartered producer’s sister companies in France and the USA bring many additional finger food delights and side dishes to the table, including Crispy Roses Foie Gras, Mini Croustilles Comté Cheese-Nuts, Piz’wich Pizza Pockets, Potato Rollers and Fried andFilled Potato Skins.
- For anybody with a taste for mushrooms, the Scelta stand was a not-to-miss center of innovative attraction at Anuga. We stopped by for a chat with members of the Venlo, Holland-headquartered company’s team and were pleased to be served a great tasting Mushroom Burger lunch. Scelta processes nutrient-rich mushrooms into a wide line of products, ranging from fresh-frozen and preserved mushrooms with extended shelf life to healthy-eating vegetable snacks and natural taste enhancers. These find their way into pizzas, soups, sauces, ready meals and other products available through retail, foodservice and industrial channels.
- One could not say “no” to savory Chana Masala from Cologne, Germany-based Vepura GmbH. The 100% vegan ready meal features chickpeas in spicy tomato onion sauce cooked in North Indian style, served with onion basmati rice.
- Glocal Veggies with a Twist from Ardooie, Belgium-headquartered Ardo, followed with a Mango & Pineapple sweet treat for dessert, is a combination guaranteed to satisfy. The Glocal range of “Mindfoodness” offerings features Indian, Paella and Nordic-style mixes containing at least 50% vegetables, a maximum of 30% carbohydrates and 100% authentic, homemade flavor.
- The big news at the HerbaFrost stand was the launch of frozen chopped herbs in 250-gram bags and fiber-free Frozen Puree Herb Drops in 5- and 20-gram weights. Varieties of Herb Drops now available include basil, dill, chervil, coriander, curled parsley, rocket, mint and garden cress.
Peter van Asten, founder and chief executive officer of the Hulshout, Belgium-based company, said that the line has multiple applications for use in making products ranging from smoothies and sorbets, sauces to cocktails, soups, ready meals and even chocolates.
“We trialed it successfully in Italy before taking orders and shipping our first pallets to Spain,” stated Asten. “We’re also testing it with praline producers in Belgium now and hope to soon have entry into the chocolate industry.
- Managing Director Manfred Wulf welcomed us to the Agrarfrost stand and arranged for a tray of Crunchy Riffled Frites, Tater Bites and Minions 3D potato figures to sample. The flavor-packed smoked pepper-coated Crunchy Riffled Frites are presented as a “crossover potato deep-frozen specialty and a chips snack” by the Wildeshausen, Germany-based company.
Agrarfrost’s rösti mash filled Tater Bites are cylindrically-shaped cubes with a diameter of about two centimeters and a length of three centimeters. The American-style finger food appeals to children and adults alike, while the Minions 3D potato figures targets youngsters.
- The Mex-Al stand in Hall 7 was brimming with customers when the FrozenFoodsBiz.com crew stopped by, but we nonetheless managed to have an meaningful conversation with Erwin Wolharn, who co-founded the one-stop-shop Mexican food and drink business with his wife Carmen more than 30 years ago. They are genuine pioneers in the segment, importing authentic products from Mexico as well as making their own frozen burritos, tacos, tamales, salsas and more at a cold storage-distribution center in Aachen, Germany.
When asked about current business, Mr. Wolharn smiled and replied: “We can’t complain at all. Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine continues to grow in popularity in Europe, which is our main market. We have many products to offer, and service remains our most important product.”
The family-owned company is in good hands with a second generation running everyday activities. Son Richard Wolharn has been on the job as chief executive officer for a number of years. Sister Linda Gnass, who shares leadership duties as co-ceo, ably assists him.
- Indulgence Plus Berry-Skyr Slices with smooth vanilla skyr cream, blueberries, raspberries and nuts atop a gluten-free almond base proved to be a temptation that could not be resisted. Additionally, Babette Schmidt of Gross-Gerau, Germany-based Erlenbacher Backwaren unveiled encore treats to enjoy. Our favorite was, most definitely, Mousse au Chocolat Slice. Yum!
- Choco Fruiz brand Frozen Mango Coated with Chocolate from Lanna Agro Industry (LACO) of Chiang Mai, Thailand, was impossible to resist. Gorragot Wongwan, deputy managing director of the company whose mainstay has long been frozen edamame products, reports that exports of its chocolate covered fruit products, which include strawberry and banana, are rising sweetly in the West.
Mrs. Wongwan, who is long-time exhibitor at Anuga, regards the show as the most international venue on the global circuit for purveyors of frozen food products. Indeed, she has found good customers from Europe, North America and elsewhere at the fair. One of the goals set this time was to land LACO’s first client from Germany.
FrozenFoodsBiz.com personnel met with Mrs. Wongwan on the first day of the fair, a Saturday. Typically many of the major German buyers prefer to take weekends off. Hopefully the LACO deputy managing director identified a few diligent Deutsch prospects to meet and greet on Monday.
Post-show figures released by the Koelnmesse organizer were quite impressive. The 2019 running of the biennial feast of international food products and culinary concepts attracted 170,000 trade visitors (up 3% over 2017) from 201 countries, with 75% of the crowd passing through the gates and turnstiles hailing from beyond Germany. The number of companies exhibiting across 284,000 square meters of space in 11 halls housing ten food and beverage sectors under one roof was 7,590 (up from 7,405 two years ago). They came from 106 nations, with the share of foreign exhibitors accounting for 90%.
“The continual growth in the number of trade visitors and exhibitors confirms the excellent international standing of Anuga as the industry’s most important business platform. This record result means we are continuing to write the success story of Anuga in its 100th anniversary year. No other event brings supply and demand together so effectively at such a high level of quality as here in Cologne,” stated Gerald Böse, president and chief executive officer of Koelnmesse GmbH. “Anuga 2019 fulfilled the function as a window to the future more pronouncedly than ever as well. Strategic decisions for the entire food industry were discussed here, new solutions and concepts for the big challenges of the global food industry were presented too.”
The next Anuga is set for October 9-13, 2021.