20CENT Meets Anne Schumacher from Koelnmesse
A few months ago with the arrival of Mrs Anne Schumacher, Koelnmesse welcomed a new Vice President in charge of the Food and Food Technology sector. Anuga, Anuga FoodTec, ISM and Prosweets, are just a few of the events for which Mrs Schumacher is now responsible. Taking the opportunity of a trip to Cologne to visit the euvend & coffeena, I had the chance to sit down and have a pleasant chat with the new Vice President and ask her a few questions.
About the Food and Food Technology segment, could you tell in a few words the current position and trends animating the Food and Food Technology area of expertise at Koelnmesse?
“Thanks to our different shows, we cover different parts of the industry. Next to Anuga, which is very broad, we have other more specialised fairs (in Cologne and abroad) and we also have our tech segments. Obviously, we do see a number of trends animating the industry. For example we notice that people see food differently compared to before. Food is nutrition, but it can also be perceived as a lifestyle, even a sustainable way of life. We also notice that consumers’ behaviour is changing. Additionally, when we look at partnering companies, we notice that reducing waste is important, both for the environment as for efficiency in production. These are just a few of the trends we detected recently. And what we do is try to have those trends represented on our shows and cater to the expectations of our partners whether they are visitors, exhibitors or partnering companies. For example, at the latest ProSweets, new ways of production with the focus on sustainability and efficiency were represented; at ISM we improved the ‘New Snacks section’ as well as the ‘New Product Showcase’. We should also mention that we see these trends on our shows in Cologne, but also on other tradeshows we organise over the world.
You just mentioned Koelnmesse also organises tradeshows in different parts of the world. Could you expand on those “satellites” and explain how these integrate in the strategy of the group?
“In Food and Food Technology sector, we manage a total of 21 trade shows worldwide, with 6 taking place in Cologne. And the trends we just discussed previously can be detected in all our shows. On top we notice also regional trends and demands, which we try to answer to via our fairs abroad. For example, with our events in Asia we cater to the specific needs of products in Asia. Basically, the reason for our global activities is catering to the rising globalisation. The world is not just one main event anymore for various reasons. For example, travelling has become easier over the years. Also a lot of exchanges take place in the industry globally, etc.
But our fairs abroad also strengthen the shows in Cologne. To give you an idea, in India we saw a need for improvements of tech, so Anutec was an answer. In Brazil we saw a need to bring international companies in contact with the local needs, and we also gave our answer to that need. Anufood Brazil is our latest example in this context. And actually, those countries also strengthen their presence in Cologne as we noted that we welcomed more Indians, and more Brazilians recently.
It is also important we mention that we don’t just function as a platform for business, but also as one for sharing knowledge and know-how. This is what we mean when we talk about ‘global competences’. With everything we do we try to maintain a global approach and not just focus on the local aspect. So we don’t want to approach markets via a German or local point of view. Sometimes we use the term ‘powered by Anuga’, but actually we know and say that Anuga is unique in her way, and our trade fairs worldwide are also unique in their way. They are all part of the same family but we respect our global approach and the local specificity of each individual event.
In the future we don’t have concrete plans to organise new fairs abroad. But we always monitor the market and get suggestions from exhibitors or visitors, and we are looking at opportunities. If we find an opportunity we will act with our local subsidiaries and also local partner associations. Brazil is a good example. It took a long preparation and we eventually had a small scale event but with many visitors we built a strong base for future growth.”
What do you answer to people who claim that “trade fairs are losing their appeal compared to the old days, buyers don’t come, it takes too much time etc...”?
“Well of course you will always have people with different opinions.
First, we should mention that a trade show is about experiencing what is on display. If we take a look at food and food tech it is always so that a fair is an opportunity to experience many products and vast amount of services at one place.
Obviously, we can additionally mention that a trade show is also a way of efficiently organising your time as everybody of the same industry gathers at one place and anyone can win a lot of time from his usual daily routine by organising many meetings all at once.
Furthermore, to stay up-to-date, our shows changed over the years as well as our organisation. We always try to provide new experiences and features at our events. For example at this year’s euvend & coffeena we set up the ‘Office Coworking Lab’, and we try to add new items at every event. Additionally, on top of those constant new features, we always work to improve the facilities for visitors to register, to meet potential business partners etc.... we add those things to make our exhibitors and visitors gain time.
But for every show, in order to be successful, what we find is that relevance is key.”
Maybe a last question about communication tools. The Koelnmesse are present on social media but if you ask me it’s more discrete than other trade fair organisers. And it seems that Koelnmesse’s trade shows are less active on social media, than other events (whom for example have their own Twitter or Instagram accounts for each show…). Is there any reason for that different strategy?
“Obviously we are talking to our audiences via many different channels and social media is one of them. Just to name a few channels, we have personal contacts through local events; we use the trade press, we also utilise our subsidiaries and our local networks as we do a lot of personal contacts. In a way yes, we are less aggressive than others on social media depending on the fairs, but we are building things gradually. Also we monitor what are the needs and demand of our audience. For example, in Asia, we see a B2B use of Facebook. For Anuga, we just started our channels at Facebook and Instagram but even before that, we have been present on Facebook via advertising campaigns. We are gradually expanding our presence for Anuga, for example LinkedIn will be the next channel. Another example was Anuga Foodtec for which we have an entire team and external support in order to take care of the different channels and monitor the activity on social media prior and during the show.
So when we use a channel we assign a team on it, and we also work with agencies. It all depends on the fair and on the aim we want to reach. Therefore, we use the pallet of different communication channels at our disposal according to the event.
Basically, through what we gather from our contacts and our objectives, we really want to make sure we utilise the right channels for the right events and audiences “