Everyone close to me knows that I love trade shows. Having been a show director, exhibitor and attendee, and having visited every food industry trade event imaginable, I’ve seen them all. From specialty foods, ethnic events, ingredients, nutraceuticals and candy, just to mention a few, nothing prepared me for the enormity, scope and venue of Anuga!
Held every two years in Cologne, Germany, and most recently in October, Anuga is by far the quintessential food industry trade show I have ever attended. In my role as New Business Development Associate for the OU, it is my job (it’s actually a pleasure) to search for new companies looking to tap into the ever-growing kosher food industry.
With my Belgian colleague, Rabbi Yisroel Hollander, one of the OU’s European rabbinic field representatives, we walked for miles (or so it seemed), in the enormous Koelnmesse where approximately 6,000 exhibitors sampled their products to over 150,000 international buyers.
The convention center encompassed 11 halls where companies from all over the globe exhibited a wide scope of food products including specialty/gourmet, beverages, chilled food, meat, frozen food, dairy, bread and bakery, organic, retail technology and foodservice.
Rabbi Hollander and I met many international satisfied OU clients who were happy to see us and enthusiastically showed us their “Proud to Be OU” signs displayed in their booths and on their product labels. Even with some language barriers the OU symbol was our common bond, as we smiled knowingly at each other that having obtained the OU symbol was a strategic business decision on their part.
As Rabbi Hollander and I approached companies which were not yet kosher certified and explained who we were, we were greeted with the same response over and over again. The food manufacturers knew about the kosher market and had received requests from many of their customers particularly, in the United States and Israel, requesting OU certification. Many explained to us that it was a business decision they knew they had to make in order to increase market share and revenues.
We were greeted with the same reaction in most of the food categories we visited. Anuga 2007 had eight new trend themes: organic products, gourmet and specialty products, health and functional foods, kosher products, private labels, halal food, finger food and vegetarian products. All of these food categories were eager to learn about becoming OU certified, including many companies which had kosher certification from other international agencies. They understood that to enter the American kosher market the demand for an internationally known kosher certification such as the OU was a smart business decision their customers were demanding.
If you’ve ever attended a food trade show, you know how exhausting they can be. Anuga is no different except that there is so much to see and the days are simply not long enough. With the cacophony of languages spoken, I marveled at the fact that there was one focus at Anuga, and that was doing business.
I hope to be at Anuga 2009, but next time I’ll need my roller skates!