Blog: Dean BestAnuga 2013: Exhibitors believe trading conditions improving

Dean Best | 6 October 2013

Anuga

Anuga's Boulevard Nord on Sunday 7 October

The halls of the sprawling Koelnmesse in Cologne were heaving on day two of this year's Anuga industry trade show. And, after battling through the crowds, just-food got the feeling exhibitors believe the economic outlook is improving.

Of course, we won't know the exact visitor numbers for the show until the stands are taken down and the industry has moved on from Cologne for another year but, for some, there were indications the 2013 edition was busier than the last show, held two years ago.

"We had more visitors yesterday than on the same day two years ago. Look around, there are people everywhere," Chris Houston, group market intelligence manager for Denmark-based B2B bakery products supplier Lantmännen Unibake, said. "It's not cheap to to come here and it's not even the most easy place to get to and they come from all around the world."

Perhaps more notable was the impression among exhibitors that the general outlook among those at the show - rather than just the number of visitors - was brighter.

"People we are dealing with are more confident in themselves so they are placing bigger orders," Alison Lea-Wilson, co-founder of UK firm The Anglesey Sea Salt Company, noted.

Anuga is a show that attracts exhibitors and visitors from all over the world but, given its location in a city in Germany, and given the tough trading conditions seen in Europe in recent years, the most interesting comments came on whether the continent had become an easier place to do business.

Bernard Deryckere, CEO of Belgium-based dairy alternative business Alpro, was bullish about the outlook for Europe.

"I am an optimistic guy and I am saying Europe is coming back, together with the UK, we are coming back, certainly in food," he told just-food.

Alpro's four largest markets are in northern Europe - the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany - but it has a significant business in the south of the continent - the areas most affected by the downturn in the region in recent years. But even there Deryckere believes there are positive signs.

"We suffered in Spain and suffered in Portugal. The Spanish are very proud people and they will come back. The Portuguese will come back but it will take time. I'm feeling - again I'm an optimisitic guy - and I feel we are coming back," he argued.

Lea-Wilson echoed the comments on Spain after meeting with The Angelsey Sea Salt Co.'s local distributor. "We were speaking to our Spanish distributor yesterday and he thinks they've reached the bottom now and are on their way up - and he is in high-end retail, foodservice."

A flavour from the companies just-food visited today - we couldn't quite get around all 6,777 exhibitors - but a change from previous Anugas your correspondent has visited. More tomorrow.

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