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The Show Must Go On, and Anuga Did Exactly That — Successfully!

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The 2021 edition of the biennial Anuga B2B food trade show welcomed 4,643 exhibitors from 98 countries and over 70,000 trade visitors from 169  nations to the Koelnmesse fairgrounds in Cologne, Germany from October 9-13, where a wide range of innovative new products were spotlighted within exhibition space covering 244.400 square meters. While the number of visitors was down significantly from 170,000 in 2019, and the exhibitor count fell markedly from the record-setting 7,590 from 106 nations that showed their stuff during that last, pre-coronavirus running, the fair was nonetheless deemed a solid success.

As Anne Schumacher, Koelnmesse’s vice president for Food & Food Technology, told FrozenFoodsBiz.com: “The important message is that we are back.”

Yes, indeed!

“Anuga 2021 was an important step back towards normality. Koelnmesse has proved that the world’s largest trade fair for food can also be carried out safely under Corona regulations. The exhibitors and trade visitors were finally allowed to meet up again personally, present goods and conclude contracts. As such, this is the first leading trade fair to be staged after the outbreak of Covid-19, an important encourager and stimulus for the worldwide trade with foodstuffs,” stated Christoph Minhoff, chief executive director of the German Food and Drink Industries (BVE).

The 2021 hybrid format of Anuga allowed visitors who opted not attend the event in person due to coronavirus concerns to access a dedicated online platform from their home or office via an Anuga@home link.  Participants were invited to dial into and watch various features that ranged from special presentations and panel discussions to discovering new products, trends, and even networking. Among sessions highlighted, the International Frozen Food Network (IFFN) Round Table hosted by John Saulnier of FrozenFoodsBiz.com on October 12 gathered key trade association leaders in Europe and the United States to share knowledge about the vital role frozen foods play in providing healthier diets, as well as fostering a more sustainable supply chain. It is now available to view online at: https://www.frozenfoodsbiz.com/frozen-food-is-a-game-changer-for-a-more-sustainable-food-system/

Frozen Foods on Top of List of Innovations

The Anuga Taste Innovation Show is seen as a trend barometer for the global food business in which international food business journalists and market research analysts judge new product entries. In total, more than 418 companies applied to have their ideas evaluated in the special event. The jury selected 67 products and concepts from over 1,300 that were impressive in terms of vision, innovative power, sustainability, and creative implementation, of which 14 were frozen food products. Among these, a number were on the Top 10 list of innovations, as detailed below.

  • Surgital’s Saffron Sauce, marketed as Sugosi I Prestigiosi, features a line of products that save time in the kitchen and maintain the highest organoleptic quality thanks to careful deep-freezing expertise of the producers.
  • Frozen pesto drops from Italian company Il Pesto di Pra’ Srl are small drops of frozen pesto featuring an aroma of scented basil, which has been grown in Genova Pra ‘since 1827. 
  • 12 Scallops in Crispy Waffer Shell from France’s Escal are served on crispy waffers with finely tuned garlic-parsley cream as an appetizer.

Major Food Trends of 2022

During the Anuga@home live presentations, Innova Market Insights provided three primary trend directions as a preview for the Top 10 list in 2022. 

According to Innova, one of the important trends for next year is the so-called “shared planet.” This means that consumers and businesses take joint responsibility to protect the Earth. As Lu-Ann Williams of Innova explained, this trend builds on the previous ones relating to transparency and clean label. 

“These trends are now coming together. Trust and transparency are needed to tell the story of a product,” she said. 

The vegetable trend is also developing, and Innova sees that the current phase of plant-based products forms a good breeding ground for further innovation. Indeed top chefs in the United States, Europe and Asia are increasingly menuing plant-based dishes so that customers see what is possible. 

Every year, Innova asks consumers why they choose plant-based products. This year too, health is ranked first, but sustainability has risen to second place. This again links up with the previous trend: “Consumers who take responsibility.” Developments at suppliers also mean that there are many more possibilities for a new generation of products.

A third trend, identified as “Tech to the Table,” is all about technological progress that leads to innovation. Varying from cultured meat to digital interaction with consumers, the trend has taken off because of the Covid-19 health crisis that has spread from China to impact the entire world. Last year, many people experimented with home food delivery for the first time. Innova Market Insights expects to see more innovations in this area in the coming year.

Food Origins in Spotlight as Trends Converge and Accelerate

Food security, sustainability and back-to-local trends are converging to create a surge in demand for transparency and more information about food origins. All of these trends have been accelerated by Covid-19 and will persist beyond the pandemic, according to a presentation by Maria Mascaraque of Euromonitor International. Technology is creating new opportunities in food sourcing, and the pandemic has also driven companies to invest in technology. Investments in e-commerce, delivery capabilities, automation and supply chain digitalization create new opportunities to meet the growing demand around food sourcing. 

Moreover, storytelling around origins — often via new mediums — is increasingly critical, and origin-based storytelling is becoming a more powerful brand-building tool. These stories are increasingly told through new technologies or mediums, as tech-based traceability tools, live streaming, social selling, and experiential elements take hold. 

“As markets pivot to local sourcing, food brands face a wider competitive set. This focus on origins will create an entirely new set of locally sourced competitors. In addition, as e-commerce and delivery shape the future, cross-industry competition will intensify as prepared and fresh foods compete more directly with packaged brands,” Mascaraque said. 

The direct sourcing revolution will fundamentally transform supply chains. Direct-to-consumer models will transform food supply chains as marketplaces allow shoppers to buy directly from the source (e.g., farmers or manufacturers). Emerging markets that lack modern distribution systems are primed for this change, explained Mascaraque during her live session at Anuga@home. 

All about the Plant-based Revolution

“There is no single definition of a plant-based customer. Instead, the category is drawing almost equal attention from health champions, eco-warriors and ethical shoppers,” said Myrthe de Beukelaar, senior market analyst with Innova Market Insights, at the beginning of her presentation on the expanding opportunities created by plant-based products. 

Although vegetarianism and veganism continue to attract new adherents, the flexitarian movement is growing even faster. Research shows that 60% of global households now eat meat-free meals at least once a week, many enticed by the variety it brings to their diet. New product development also demonstrates the segmentation of plant-based eating, and the need for product variety and diverse positioning is also shaking up choice in ingredients. 

“There is a growing interest in more sustainable protein crops, such as legumes and marine plants, while advanced fermentation technology is allowing protein production from such unlikely sources as yeast, wood, and even the air itself. In the United States, Air Protein says it has mixed CO2, oxygen, and nitrogen with water and minerals to create a nutrient-rich flour with the same amino acid profile as animal protein,” de Beukelaar said. 

Investment is also helping to advance technologies for cultured meat production, believed by many to be the future of meat supply. Although cultured meat can compete with plant-based products on environmental benefits, it will still fall short with health-conscious customers. This is a further indication of the need for variety and choice to maximize the potential of the plant-based revolution.

The Era of Food on Demand

The meal is becoming the new value driver, following a 20th Century defined by dominant global product brands. As Stephen Dutton, senior analyst with Euromonitor International, explained in his presentation, consumer interest and spending in the 21st Century is turning towards the meal in various stages of preparation — from recipe fulfillment to meal kits to high-end restaurant meals. As consumers prepare fewer meals overall, with more outside assistance for the ones they do, spending and brand equity will accrue to the services providing meals, from delivery aggregators to retailers and away from individual product brands.

Logistics and preparation will grow increasingly separate from discovery and selection, as regular supermarket and restaurant trips give way to more delivery and more quick meal provision. More prepared meals mean new questions for consumer health and the environment. Prepared meals, particularly restaurant meals, have historically not faced the same scrutiny over ingredients or packaging as packaged food and drink, which must change if present trends continue. In addition, as more planned occasions migrate online, physical retail and foodservice operators will increasingly compete for the same set of same-day, unplanned/low-planning “meal fulfillment” occasions. 

German Frozen Food Market Continues to Grow

Total volume sales of frozen food in Germany declined by 4.5 percent in 2020 to 3.66 million tons (2019: 3.833 million tonnes). The total value of frozen food sales fell by 1.8 percent to Euro 15.081 billion (2019: Euro 15.361 billion), according to figures from the German Frozen Food Institute (dti). Increased demand for frozen products and high consumer acceptance resulted in an excellent performance in the in-store and home delivery segments, but this could not compensate for the collapse of the out-of-home (OOH) market due to government-imposed shutdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the in-store and home delivery segments, frozen food recorded extraordinary growth of 12.1 percent in volume terms in 2020, with sales of 2.087 million tons (2019: 1.861 million tons). That is an absolute record for the entire frozen food category in the retail sector. Furthermore, frozen food sales in the in-store and home delivery segments rose by 13.4 percent to Euro 9.40 billion (2019: Euro 8.29 billion), clearly exceeding the nine-billion mark for the first time.The OOH market recorded an unprecedented collapse due to the coronavirus disruption. For the first time, the consistent winner in recent years had to face painful losses in various OOH segments due to the extended lockdowns that began in March of 2020. Volume sales fell by 20.3 percent to 1.573 million tons (2019: 1.973 million tons). Frozen food sales in the OOH market totaled Euro 5.68 billion in 2020, a decline of 19.6 percent (2019: Euro 7.07 billion). Sales of all frozen food product groups in the OOH market experienced double-digit declines in 2020. 

The German frozen food industry, a sector accustomed to success, had to face a significant setback entirely due to the extended closures of foodservice businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.Due to the foodservice industry crisis, per capita consumption of frozen food decreased by 2.1 kilograms in 2020 to 44.8 kilograms (2019: 46.9 kg). This represents a dramatic fall of a magnitude never seen before and an unexpected departure from the trend over 30 years.

An Overall Successful Edition

Despite the fourth wave of the pandemic, Anuga organizers believe that the 2021 edition was a success, mainly because of the dual format — in person and @home. While the overall number of exhibitors and visitors was understandably lower than figures posted during “usual” Anuga trade shows, this edition scored highly in innovation, connectivity, online networking, informative presentations, digital tools, and a well-thought hybrid concept.

— Reported by Dan Orehov