Exhibitor numbers swelled to a record high at the recent BioFach 2006 organic trade show, reflecting the recovery in both the German and European organic markets. Bruce Hoggard visited the show held in Nuremberg last week.

Further evidence of the recovery of both the German and EU organic markets was quite literally on show at BioFach 2006, the organic trade fair now in its 17th year. The returning vibrancy and prosperity of the organic sector swelled exhibitor numbers to a record high, with some 2,078 companies from 73 countries taking part in the show last week in Nuremberg.

Honduras, Indonesia, Cambodia, Kenya and the Ukraine were represented at the show for the first time, while Poland was the Country of the Year with more than 40 exhibitors promoting organic products ranging from sausages to herbs and vegetables.

The number of value-added companies exhibiting at the show grew again this year, while the cosmetic booths, which used to be “two tables tucked away in the basement” when the show was in Frankfurt, now make up one entire hall. The growth of the show is a further reflection of the growing breadth and sophistication of the organic market.

Among the most impressive stands was the Rosengarten booth which featured an eye-catching sampling tower. Well known for its chocolate-covered apple slices, Rosengarten was launching five new products at this year’s show, all targeted at sweet-toothed consumers.

Among Rosengarten’s new offerings was a product called Crunchy Waffles, made from strawberries, waffles and white yogurt. Similar to a product the company produced as a highly successful private label brand in Italy, Crunchy Waffles contain freeze-dried strawberries that retain their natural flavour, which is then enhanced by the yoghurt. Other new products from Rosengarten included a Strawberry Cream dainty and other cookie-style products called Makronenring.

With the 2006 football World Cup being staged in Germany, the show featured plenty of organic companies keen to exploit the marketing opportunities the tournament will offer. One such company was Teigwaren Riesa which plans to launch an organic version of its already popular football-shaped noodles in March. WM Nudeln noodles come in the shape of soccer balls, World Cup trophies and whistles. The company is hoping to capitalise on World Cup fever in Germany and indirectly “export” the product back to hundreds of countries as fans return home with their own bags of WM Nudeln.

Riesa also has an additional 100 different shapes created for special holidays such as Easter and Christmas. However, the company’s most interesting new product was its chocolate dessert noodles, which are so far only being marketed through specialty stores.

The Bavarian group Hierl Naturkost was also at the show, presenting its vacuum-packed noodles. The vacuum process keeps the noodles soft and locks in the taste. Other new products being presented at the show included the company’s Kartoffel Nudeln, a vegan potato noodle based on a southern German recipe of potato, wheat, herbs and chickpeas. Two of the company’s other popular products at the show were its Fingernudeln, a winter noodle made from 50% wheat and 50% potato, and Knopfle Spaetzle, button-shaped noodles made from the very famous spaetzle recipe.

Salomon was once again exhibiting at the show. Its presentation included two new products, Bio Schlemmer Lasagne Classic and Bio Gefluegel Minis, both of which are to be launched in March 2006 in Germany and Italy. Turkey Nuggets, Salomon’s other new launch, are similar to the company’s other popular bite-sized products aimed at the children’s meal market.

Although there was much excellent organic food to be tasted at the show, there were still some booths where the standard of organic food left something to be desired. Among these, Oekoland’s Currywurst, a special German sausage dish, seemed to lack a full-bodied curry taste, while the fish flavours in its Spanish Paella’s were too overpowering. FZ Organic Foods’ Apple Chips were also found to be somewhat wanting in the taste department. But overall, as in previous years, meal breaks were made superfluous by the wonderful selections of food available to sample around the aisles.

BioFach Nuremberg returns from 15 to 18 February 2007, while the growing importance of the Chinese contribution to the organic movement is being recognised with the first BioFach China, to be held in Shanghai in December 2006.

Other important food shows coming up in 2006:

Japan FOODEX, Tokyo 14th-17th March

Organic Products Europe, London 9th-10th April

All Things Organic, Chicago 7th-9th May

BioFach Japan, Tokyo 21st -23rd September

BioFach America, Baltimore 5th-7th October

SIAL, 22nd-26th October, Paris

BioFach Latin America, 25th-27th October Sao Paulo