Exclusive: Celebrating 100 Years of Anuga in Cologne


This October, Anuga celebrates its 100th anniversary and on this occasion, I talked to Lorenz Rau, the trade show’s director, about what to expect in 2019, as well as some of the highlights recorded during the show’s long history.

By Dan Orehov

How do you characterize the evolution of Anuga in these 100 years of existence?

The first “Allgemeine Nahrungs- und Genussmittel-Ausstellung” (Anuga) took place 1919 in Stuttgart. Around 200 exhibitors presented their products in lavish displays, including Oetker of Bielefeld and Bahlsen of Hanover, as well as the renowned sparkling wine producer Kessler of Esslingen, and Asbach of Rüdesheim. In comparison to today, it was just a German trade fair, targeted at a business audience but it was also open for the general public. Throughout the year, Anuga became bigger and bigger and more international. Over time, the fair has evolved from leading food fairs such as ISM and Anuga FoodTec, from a food and processing platform to a pure food and beverage trade show. Anuga has stood for trends and innovation during its 100 years of existence. It accompanied the change from convenience stores to big supermarkets through specific special shows and introduced new products such as preserves, frozen food or organic products.

What are some of the major landmarks in Anuga’s 100-year history?

As I said, the first Anuga took place 1919 in Stuttgart. Based on the concept of an annual touring exhibition, further events of Anuga were staged, among others in Munich in 1920, in Berlin in 1922 and in Cologne in 1924. With around 360 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors, the first Anuga in Cologne was the best event since its foundation, which is why the organizers opted for Cologne as the permanent location. In 1951, for the first time over 1,200 exhibitors from 34 countries took part, whereby Anuga ultimately established itself as the central international business platform for the food industry in Cologne scheduled every two years. Over the course of time, due to the staging of leading trade fairs such as ISM and Anuga FoodTec, the trade fair advanced from being a food and processing platform into becoming a trade fair purely for food and beverages. In 2003, the Anuga “10 Trade Shows Under One Roof” concept was implemented. Today, with about 7,500 exhibitors and more than 165,000 trade visitors from the trade and out-of-home market, Anuga has developed into the leading global trade fair for food and beverages.

Has frozen food always been a focus point for Anuga?

Frozen food became important at Anuga during the 50s. In 1955, it was presented at the 3rd Anuga for the first time. In 1959, the fair curated a special show entitled “Frozen Food Supply Chain” in collaboration with the recently formed German Frozen Food Institute. The popularity of frozen food increased in the mid-1950s fueled by the prosperity of the economic miracle years. Self-service expanded and number of supermarkets increased tremendously. So, from the 5th edition on frozen food became an important category at Anuga.

Which have been some of the main challenges associated with organizing the trade show, throughout the years?

Of course, Anuga has grown tremendously throughout the years. Consequently, we continuously had to change the structure by including and excluding certain segments. This did not just cause positive feedback, because exhibitors had to change their long-term positions and move to other halls. Also, economic challenges and other crises such as 9/11 or the mad cow disease brought difficult times to Anuga. Several exhibitors and numerous visitors decided not to attend the fair. Further exhibitions at other trade fair venues in Germany led to enormous competition. Big German exhibitors continued to attend Anuga, their companies were no longer exhibiting there. Anuga was in trouble, so the former management decided to restructure Anuga by introducing the concept “Ten Trade Shows Under One Roof” which still exists today. After the change, the number and quality of visitors increased immediately, and several high-profile exhibitors decided to return to the event.

Lorenz Rau
Lorenz Rau

What are and have always been the strong key points for Anuga, which have managed to attract an ever-growing number of visitors and exhibitors?

There are several key aspects that have contributed to the success and thus to the longevity of Anuga. The consistent expansion to a trade fair, the qualitative selection and the ongoing bundling of product groups, as well as, the clear focus on food and beverage have made Anuga what it is today.  Furthermore, the specialized Anuga concept “10 Trade Fairs Under One Roof” should be mentioned here. Each trade fair is unique in its product segment and showcases products, services and innovations relating to the required specialist segment. Anuga has always succeeded in creating a great mix between small and medium-sized companies and world market leaders. Always in tune with the times, showing the trends and innovations over the years, and also venturing into the future. It is our intention to be an innovation and opinion leader platform. Therefore, Anuga provides targeted impulses and supports the international transfer of knowledge with regard to the sustainability of the food industry. No other trade show in the food business worldwide unites innovation and business at the same scope.

Compared to other trade shows organized in Germany by Koelnmesse, where is Anuga situated, with regards to number of visitors, exhibitors and internationalization?

With regards to the number of exhibitors and internationalization, it is the leading trade fair. Considering the number of visitors, there is only Gamescom which attracts more visitors.

How has the Anuga concept expanded into other world regions over the years and what have been the motivating factors for this expansion?

With our trade fairs abroad, we often give answers to regional demands or trends. They are made for special target groups and interests abroad but also give foreign companies from all over the world access to local markets and trends. Because of our long-term experience in doing fairs all over the world, Koelnmesse or, in this case, Anuga are often a role model for other fairs abroad. Thus, our insight has an impact on the organization of fairs abroad. But of course, some of our trade shows abroad also strengthen Anuga in Cologne. One aspect is that we get a better understanding of foreign markets, trends and how the industry works. We use this knowledge to shape our offering in a way that fits the needs of the different target groups. It also helps to inform new exhibitors or trade visitors about the benefits of Anuga according to their business interest. In addition, we can create special events for certain markets in order to transfer know-how. And of course, successful trade fairs abroad such as Thaifex, Anuga Asia or the new Anufood Brazil foster the presence of trade fair visitors from these countries at Anuga.

How do you see Anuga evolve in the years to come and what do you believe will be the main challenges and opportunities?

Of course, it is our goal to stay relevant as the leading trade fair in food and beverages. In so doing, we continuously have to survey the market, create new formats that reflect these developments. But even more important is that we do not just present current trends and the fair, it is our intention to show future developments and give impulses as a knowledge platform for the food and beverage industry. I think, one of the main challenges will be how we can feed over 10 billion people in the next 30 years. Our world of food is thus faced with the largest transformation of all times and many companies are already occupying themselves with alternative solutions for the industry. Anuga will pick EUR50m by 2022 to achieve our goal of becoming one of the world’s leading digitizers in the industry. More consistent customer experience and digital services, such as online trade-fair registration for our exhibitors or digital lead tracking, will be implemented.

Please discuss the frozen food category and its evolution in Germany, over the past 100 years.

In 1955, frozen food was first exhibited at Anuga and became even more popular in the upcoming years. A comparison of the pro capita consumption in Germany emphasizes the triumphal march of the frozen food products. 35 years ago, the pro capita consumption was 17.2kg and in 2018 it was already around 47kg per German citizen – with an upwards tendency. With a turnover share of 12%, the frozen food industry is one of the five large sub-sectors of the food industry (source: German Frozen Food Institute e.V.). The technological achievement of preserving food using exclusively the use of refrigeration without the addition of preservatives is indispensable today and is additionally reinforced by developments towards more convenience. The frozen food segment is one of the most important innovation drivers both for the retail trade and the out-of-home market.

Lastly, please describe Anuga using only three words.

Worldwide. Leading. Trendsetting.

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