Trade Associations, Shows & Conferences

‘October Fest’ for Global Food Trade Buyers and Sellers Kicks Off in Germany

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The table has been well set for the start of the Anuga International Food Industry Trade Fair, which kicked off on October 7 for a five-day run  in Cologne. Organizers of the biennial show are expecting to welcome over 170,000 visitors to the sprawling Koelnmesse fairgrounds, where more than 7,800 exhibitors from 118 countries are showing their stuff across 300,000 square meters of floor space. Among them are over 600 frozen food companies hailing from 56 nations.

From Chickpea Fries and French Tacos to TexMex Sombreros and Thai Yello Curry, these are just a handful of a world of international flavors that are  available to savor.

TexMex Sombrero snacks from the Oosterhout, Netherlands-based Salud Food Group feature a blend of guacamole, melted cheese, zesty onions and jalapeños presented in the shape of a miniature sombrero. The unique design lends itself to dipping into sauces. And, to top it off, the coating of the sombrero is sprinkled with nacho pieces, which give each bite extra crunch and flavor.

Chickpea Fries

Golden brown and crispy on the outside, creamy and mildly nutty on the inside, Frostkrone Food Group’s vegan sticks made from chickpeas serve up plenty of protein and calcium. The Reitberg, Germany-headquartered company’s Chickpea Fries, which can be prepared in one’s home oven in just a few minutes, are a tasty treat as finger food for casual snacking or as a side dish.

French Tacos

French Tacos from Villebon sur Yvette, France-based Frima Europe, featuring the combination of a Tex-Mex-style kebab with the Croque Monsieur’s unique taste, are now available in two vegetarian recipes. They can be quickly reheated in a microwave oven or a grill-toaster after being defrosted. A wheat flour tortilla is prepared with falafel and grilled vegetables, served with emulsified spicy tomato sauce with onions and peppers, pre-fried french fries and accompanied with a three-cheese creamy sauce.

Thai Yellow Curry

A creamy yellow curry with chick’n pieces served over Basmati rice is a meat-free offering from the Plant-it Food Co. of Chapelizod, Ireland. The Thai Yellow Curry’s rich flavor is derived from lemongrass and turmeric. Rich in protein and fiber, the gluten-free product is ready to serve after just six minutes of preparation.

Spotlight on Fresh-Frozen Pasta

Lavezzola, Emila-Romagna, Italy-based Surgital is holding forth in Hall 4.2 at Stand E-029, where a large central kitchen is busy preparing dishes made from the company’s extensive fresh-frozen Divine Creazion and Laboratorio Tortellini Alta Tradizione pasta lines.

The new Divine Creazioni offering, which combines tradition and innovation with sophisticated pairings and flavors, is presented as “perfect for upscale restaurants.” A second new product is promoted as an embodiment of “pure love of tradition, with a typical Sicilian pasta that will enrich an already rich portfolio of regional specialities, conquering international markets that are more and more keen to have dishes inspired by Italian cuisine and products made in Italy on their menus.”

Founded in 1980 by President Romana Tamburini, Surgital is the Italian market leader in production of fresh-frozen pasta and sauces in pellet form, as well as frozen ready meals for the restaurant, catering, birrerie (pub) and snack bar sectors. Romana’s husband,  CEO Edoardo Bacchini, mechanized the manufacturing process to keep up with growing demand in the early ’80s. He holds a patent for devising a highly efficient machine that makes Garganelli Romagnoli.

The company is very active abroad as well. Shipping products to more than 60 countries, export sales account for over 40% of total revenues. International success is attributed to a well-structured network of export managers and direct employees, particularly in the UK and Germany, and Surgital-owned commercial facilities in France and the USA.

Creativity, Quick Quality and Convenience-Plus: The Future of Frozen

In gearing up for the Anuga’s frozen product presentation, show organizers tapped into Inovative Market Insights for some insight. Much information was forthcoming, as detailed below.

Convenience has always been a key driver of frozen foods. But with more than 95 percent of products launched in this category since 2018 carrying a convenience claim, on its own it is not enough to make a new offering stand out. Trends identified by Innova show that people still want the time-saving ease that makes the freezer aisle so popular, but with added benefits that tap into consumer creativity, the need for nutrients and a desire for indulgence.

Innova’s number six Top Ten Trend for 2023 – Quick Quality – has real significance for frozen food brands. During the Corona virus lockdowns, many experienced a change in their relationship with food. Culinary skills expanded and cooking became more than functional, serving as hobby and entertainment. Consumers want to maintain this connection but need help to fit it into their busier lives.

During the pandemic, many consumers have changed their relationship with food. According to a trend survey by Innova, convenience food should not only be quick and easy to prepare, but also healthy and tastier than before.

Innovative Applications

Brands are tapping into creative convenience by offering frozen products that can stand alone or be the base for more personalized cooking. In France, Picard has its customizable meal concept “Mix & Miam”: a trio of individually wrapped courses that work together or as an accompaniment to the cook’s imagination. Australia’s Pie Society has a wide range of unbaked pies, carrying claims of freshness and better texture. Both products retain convenience while giving the consumer the option of adding their own twist. Meal kits and instant noodles are areas of major innovation too, with launches of both showing a CAGR of greater than +10 percent between 2017 and 2022.

The fastest growing subcategories in frozen food launches show innovation around staple products that also offer creative opportunity. Globally, over the period 2018-2022, launches of bread products have enjoyed a +23 percent CAGR, egg products +19 percent, plain pasta and noodles +16 percent and baking ingredients and mixes +14 percent. Finger foods – an established frozen aisle favorite – are also seeing increased innovation, pointing to the more pleasurable, indulgent end of the market. Here we have also seen a steady rise in artisanal products and chef-endorsed dishes. And the market for takeaway-inspired (or “fakeaway”) dishes remains popular as a cost-effective way of enjoying a treat.

The Health Angle

Healthy eating, especially at an affordable level, is another key and growing consumer demand, brought into deeper focus by the twin experiences of Covid and a cost-of-living crisis. New frozen food products at a variety of price points are increasingly marketed as being a “high source of protein.” For example, frozen launches tracked by Innova in Brazil that carry this claim saw a growth of around +65 percent (CAGR, 2017 to 2022). Other prominent claims in NPD include plant-based, organic, natural, and lactose-free.

Value added is key to unlocking opportunities in frozen foods. The sector has an established reputation for convenience and cost benefits. Adding flexibility around meal creation, clear nutritional benefits, or a sprinkling of indulgence are ways to tap into the key trends and demands driving consumer choices.