Exhilarating atmosphere at BioFach 2006
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
It could not have gone better. ‘Marvellous’ and ‘great’ are words that the exhibitors called to each other as they packed up the last few things in their cars on the car park in front of the exhibition centre at the Nuremberg Trade Fair (NürnbergMesse). Everywhere you looked you could see beaming faces of people delighted with the success of the superlative organic trade fair that took place 16-19 February. Not only has the number of visitors increased but also the number of exhibitors and participants in the congress programme.
Picture: The new Congress Center
37 426 specialist visitors (2005: 33 002) - at 13% a significant increase - accepted the invitation of 2 089 exhibitors (2005: 2 045) to attend the organic industry’s biggest get-together in the world. 34 % of visitors came from abroad, principally from Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain and Britain. In total, 116 nations were represented. The 2 % growth in exhibitors came mainly from Germany, a fact that underlines this country’s flourishing organic market.
Two-thirds of BioFach exhibitors travelled from abroad. This year, firms from 73 countries booked 35,574 m² (2005: 33,259 m²), and international exhibitors had a somewhat bigger share in the expansion of the exhibition area (7 %). As in the past, the German organic producers (715) were the biggest contingent, followed by Italy (273), Spain (189) and France (110).
The project manager, Heika Slotta, showed how pleased she was: “From Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon the exhibition halls throbbed with activity. If I draw conclusions about the market from the atmosphere at the Fair, organic producers and the organic trade can look forward to another successful year. ‘Good deals - a marvellous atmosphere’ was how practically all the German exhibitors summed up the experience.” Paul Söbbeke, Managing Director of the Sobbeke Dairy, expressed his view: “The rise in visitor numbers is a clear sign that specialists are drawn to growth markets, even if they have not been involved in organics before.” Klara Ahlers, manager of Laverana, spoke about natural cosmetics: “Customers who have never been to a BioFach before came this time. Firms have had far more representatives operating for them and interest in natural cosmetics is growing - and that includes the so-called conventional trade, such as chemists’ shops.” With 108 congress events and 40 company events attended by over 6 000 specialists, BioFach 2006 has set new standards, including in the areas of information, discussion and further training.
The opening ceremony was held this year in the new congress centre in a room that was twice as big as in previous years. There was, however, no difficulty in filling it. Dr. Gerd Müller, the German Secretary of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, stood in for the Minister, Horst Seehofer, who had been detained in Berlin on account of bird flu. People clapped enthusiastically when Jan K. Ardanowski (also a Secretary of State in the Polish Ministry of Agriculture) made it clear that his government will be on the side of GM-free agriculture (picture) , whereas applause for Dr Müller was only sporadic. The talk by the futurologist, Matthias Horx, was also well received. He spoke less about organics than the revolutions we can expect in agriculture and society in general, and thus he pointed to the decisive trends in coming years. Of course, the realisation is not new that convenience foods, ready meals and partially prepared foods are becoming more and more popular because there is no time to prepare food, at least during the week. “Who is supposed to prepare meals?” he asked his audience of 1000 people. He coined the term “Fast Good” as a synthesis of fast food and good food.
Once again this year, plenty of visitors went to the wine hall with over 30 stands and a round central stand with vinotheque (picture), wine forum and wine awards. The many award-winning wines were set out on two counters. A new feature this year was the inclusion of the olive oil bar in this circular arrangement, which led to significantly more people sampling the olive oil on display.
The country of the year, Poland, has made the best of a not exactly simple state of affairs. Last year there were hardly more than a dozen exhibitors, but this year the area occupied by their stands and the number of firms was extended quite considerably: in the middle of Hall 5, 40 exhibitors were grouped round their own restaurant. Lots of PR material had been produced - brochures, a CD and a 180 page catalogue provided information about the companies taking part. “BioFach 2006 was the first time we were represented as exhibitors, and we were very pleased to see how successful our stand was,“ explained Robert Meus, the owner of the whole food wholesaler Biofuturo. “Our stand was visited by manufacturers who would like to sell goods to Poland or were looking for raw materials to import from Poland, as well as by representatives of firms that would like to establish business contacts with us. And we made a number of contacts with firms in neighbouring countries, too.”
It is often not easy for countries that are represented at BioFach for the first time. They lack experience of how to present their stand and what is required in addition to a good stand. Armenia (picture), a newcomer to BioFach, had no such problems. Arsen Poghosyan, the coordinator of the project “Fruitful Armenia”, was delighted: “We are really happy with the response to our stand at BioFach.” 13 employees from the 6 participating firms, that were introducing themselves to a wide international public for the first time at BioFach 2006, were busy on the 15 m² stand. Armenia was offering spreads, dried fruits, juices, honey and cheese - all organic. Mr Poghosyan, who is in charge of the Armenian project on behalf of US-AID, showed how confident he was when he stated: “Next year we would like to double the size of our stand.”
China has achieved a huge expansion of 3 million ha of organic land. The country with the biggest population in the world will host another BioFach Trade Fair abroad from December of this year. It will be held in Shanghai. “We have been exhibiting at BioFach for the last eight years and we have again been very successful,” explained Guo Chunmin from the semi-state organisation ‘China Organic Food Certification Center’. “We have expanded our stand area every year, and at the moment 15 companies have joined forces under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture.” A total of 40 firms from China took part in BioFach 2006. Mr Chunmin’s welcoming comment was: “We would like to invite BioFach most cordially to China, so that we can improve collaboration and pave the way for better business relations.”
The Congress Centre CCN East (picture), that was completed in the spring of last year, must surely have contributed to the success of BioFach 2006. Casting their gaze over the new buildings, a number of participants expressed their admiration: “Just a few years ago we would never have dreamt so much could be achieved.” Visitors approved of the much better system giving directions, so that they could locate the various rooms more easily, and of the good natural light and pleasant ambience of the rooms. A positive feature is how the new Europe is reflected in the names of the 20 rooms, which varied in size: Riga, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Istanbul, Prague, Budapest, etc.
It only remains to say that the Nuremberg Trade Fair’s new, inviting Congress Centre suited the organic industry down to the ground.