“Anuga FoodTec Is a Showcase of Pioneering Technology”

Anuga FoodTec, the trade fair where the food and beverage industry meets with its supplier sector, is the central and international meeting place for the industry. This year, the show opens its doors in Koelnmesse on March 19, and to find out more about this year’s program I spoke to Matthias Schlüter, director of the event.

Frozen Food Europe: How has the participation of exhibitors evolved in comparison to previous years, and what are the organizers’ expectations for the upcoming trade fair?

Matthias Schlüter, director, Anuga FoodTec: In comparison to previous years, the Anuga FoodTec 2024 has seen a significant increase in exhibition space, nearly 50% more than in 2022, although not yet fully back to pre-pandemic levels. We’re anticipating the participation of around 1,350 exhibitors from about 50 countries. This includes many key accounts that had paused in 2022, as well as major companies returning after a long absence, such as Kuka and SIG Combibloc, highlighting a robust industry comeback.

The main theme for Anuga FoodTec 2024, “Responsibility,” reflects our collective ambition to address how the food industry can innovate for a sustainable future and ensure global supply security. It’s about setting the right course for tomorrow, together. As such, Anuga FoodTec will serve as a critical platform for industry leaders to engage in discussions about sustainability and innovation, emphasizing the importance of a collaborative approach to shaping the future of food production and supply. 

Frozen Food Europe: Can you provide insights into the anticipated level of participation and engagement from key stakeholders, such as buyers, retailers, and distributors, in the frozen food sector, and what strategies are in place to maximize networking opportunities for exhibitors?

Matthias Schlüter: The anticipation of participation and engagement from key stakeholders in the frozen food sector at Anuga FoodTec is quite high, with 15-20% of visitors representing this segment. Prestigious companies such as Dr. Oetker, Aryzta, Greenyard, and McCain, among others, have attended in the past, underscoring the event’s significance for industry leaders from across the globe.

To maximize networking opportunities for exhibitors, several strategies are in place. The central location of the exhibition grounds in the city is naturally conducive to networking, offering an excellent opportunity for participants to engage in further discussions at local bars and restaurants post-event. However, the event itself provides numerous opportunities for networking on-site. These include dedicated networking areas, industry-specific seminars and workshops that facilitate interaction among attendees, and digital platforms that allow participants to connect before, during, and after the event. These initiatives are designed to enhance the engagement between buyers, retailers, distributors, and exhibitors, ensuring that Anuga FoodTec remains a pivotal event for fostering connections and exploring business opportunities within the frozen food sector. 

Frozen Food Europe: What initiatives or special events are planned within the fair to foster knowledge exchange, collaboration, and business development among exhibitors and attendees, and how do these align with the overall goals of the trade show?

Matthias Schlüter: The extensive event program of Anuga FoodTec 2024 is crafted to impart crucial insights and impulses for a cross-industry dialogue. The Main Stage, for instance, centers around the overarching theme of Responsibility in the food supply chain. Esteemed experts will present and deliberate on innovative technologies, ecological methodologies, and socially acceptable practices shaping the future of food production.

Novel event formats such as Science Slam, Open Expert Stage, and Deep Dive provide diverse opportunities for active participation. On the Innovation Stage, collaboration partners, start-ups, companies, and representatives from the scientific community converge to showcase inventive approaches and foster “out-of-the-box thinking.” Additional formats, including the Female Leadership Event, Matchmaking: Sustainable FoodTec Solutions, and the Careers Day on Friday, are specially tailored to facilitate networking and foster new connections.

Frozen Food Europe: What are some of the novelties this edition presents?

Matthias Schlüter: This edition of Anuga FoodTec introduces several innovative features, emphasizing sustainability and consumer trends. A new Environment & Energy section will showcase sustainable solutions for process water treatment and waste heat recovery. Regarding shifting dietary preferences, especially among younger consumers, plant-based products are a major focus, highlighting the industry’s adaptation to changing food consumption patterns.

Additionally, the fair will debut a Cultivated Food section, featuring industrial-scale bioreactors, indicating a significant advancement in sustainable food production. Across all these novelties, the overarching theme of responsibility permeates, with numerous solutions aimed at fostering sustainable and ethical practices within the industry.

Frozen Food Europe: What are the three aspects that would encourage visitors to attend this edition of Anuga FoodTec?

Matthias Schlüter: Visitors to this edition of Anuga FoodTec have several compelling reasons to attend, centered around three key aspects that underscore the event’s significance in the food and beverage industry. Firstly, the fair is a showcase of pioneering technology and exhibits, drawing approximately 1,350 companies, about 60% of which are international.

The expansion in the average area occupied by exhibitors means that attendees will witness an even larger display of machinery and innovations, including many operational exhibits. Highlighting the scale of what’s on offer, one exhibit stretches an impressive 37 meters, showcasing the diversity and technological advancements present. Secondly, Anuga FoodTec’s guiding theme of “Responsibility” positions the fair at the forefront of sustainability within the industry.

This year, the event is dedicated to exploring the facets of sustainable production and how businesses can achieve lasting success through responsible practices. Topics such as energy efficiency, resilient supply chains, Industry 4.0, sustainable packaging, and alternative protein sources, including the novel area of cultivated foods, will be thoroughly explored. This commitment to sustainability is not only timely, but also appeals to a growing segment of the industry focused on reducing environmental impact and ensuring ethical production.

Lastly, the fair is a networking and professional development hub, offering an array of events designed to facilitate cross-industry dialogue and provide extensive networking opportunities. With the addition of innovative automation solutions and a Careers Day, Anuga FoodTec is actively engaging in inspiring the next generation of industry professionals, offering them a glimpse into potential career paths within the sector. This blend of showcasing the latest industry trends, providing a platform for professional growth, and highlighting sustainable practices makes Anuga FoodTec 2024 an indispensable event for anyone involved in the food and beverage industry, promising a comprehensive experience and deep insights into the industry’s future.