Posted on | December 16, 2014
Written by | W.R. Tish
Dynamic, efficient and comprehensive, ProWein has become the most important trade show in the industry
For three days every March, principals and decision-makers from every wine region and market on earth funnel in to Düsseldorf, Germany, and the trade show ProWein becomes, practically speaking, the center of the wine universe. Slated this year for March 15th-17th, Prowein 2015 will add a new chapter to its 20-year history, having become unquestionably the most important trade show in the wine industry. Since its inception, the number of exhibitors has grown 15 times; its number of visitors 30 times; and the occupied space 18 times. This year, more than 5,000 exhibitors from around 50 countries are expected, and trade visitors will top 50,000 (up from 49,030 last year and 45,168 in 2013).
Many factors have worked in concert to fuel ProWein’s remarkable growth, starting with the wine industry itself, which only in recent decades exploded in terms of global trade. Add the fact that ProWein takes place in a globally convenient city, and at a time of year when businesses are ramping up. Comprehensive scope, logistical efficiency and an optimal environment for doing business also come into play. Above all, ProWein is an event by the trade and for the trade. Besides being the only annual wine trade fair with the highest share of foreign participants, it is open exclusively to people in the industry. And being in Düsseldorf rather than a wine region (à la Vinexpo and Vinitaly) is a palpable advantage: exhibitors and visitors can concentrate on business, ensuring a successful experience.
The World Under One Roof
The remarkable rise of ProWein has no doubt been empowered by the flexible, modern Messe Düsseldorf facility. Designed expressly to house trade shows, the fairgrounds are essentially a campus of connected halls, enabling ProWein to grow naturally. The last growth spurt was for ProWein 2013, when adding two halls to the original five allowed about 800 more exhibitors. ProWein 2015 marks another shift, moving from Halls 1-7.1 to Halls 9-17, in response to both longstanding exhibitors requiring more space and from wine/spirits producers who had been waitlisted.
Despite the sheer scope of the show, the modular format makes the scale feel eminently manageable. Exhibitors are grouped logically by country of origin, and the halls are dotted with tasting and seminar spaces. Further, an online interactive floor plan and database of products and exhibitors—searchable ahead of the show—makes both planning for the show and navigating the floor as straightforward as can be.
By fostering an ultra-efficient show and an all-business atmosphere, ProWein has become the international stage that a now-global wine industry needs and deserves. Michael Degen, Executive Director Messe Düsseldorf GmbH and Director for ProWein 2015, notes, “It is not our goal to expand the show thoughtlessly, but instead we have our finger on the pulse of the industry and create a platform that reflects the industry and at the same time presents new trends and ideas.”
Premieres, Trends & More
ProWein has become a prime springboard for new products, particularly new brands and package designs. Degen adds that ProWein is traditionally the place where the Northern hemisphere presents their new vintage for the first time, “so in that regard there are thousands of new product launches.” National pavilion debuts have become a ProWein signature as well. Tunisia first came in 2013, and Canada in 2014; 2015 will feature wines from Bolivia for the first time.
Of course, exhibitors represent the backbone of the show. Italy, Germany and France traditionally represent the largest participation among exhibitors. Significant space is also taken by Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as regional contingents from the U.S., plus China, England, Brazil and Lebanon.
As in the past, the range of international exhibitors will be supported by several internal shows that highlight trends and discoveries. For example, the FIZZZ Lounge will stage “Drinks of Tomorrow,” showcasing such bar techniques as using dried/fresh fruit and spices, smoke infusions and sous-vide. The Central Tasting Zone, which last year focused on high-value wines, for 2015 will be devoted to the winning wines from the Mundus Vini competition; some 500 medal-winning wines selected by an international professional jury will be available for open, self-pour tasting. All told, the ProWein supporting programs will feature more than 300 tasting areas, guided sessions and seminars.
Interestingly, trends can emerge even before ProWein opens in March, thanks to the Messe Düsseldorf organizers gathering critical feedback after each show. This year, for instance, after several years of staging a distinct “Organic” pavilion, following the wishes of most organic exhibitors, these wines return to regional halls in 2015—a potent sign that organic wines are merging into the mainstream.
Who attends ProWein? International wholesale and retail wine professionals make up the largest group of visitors, followed by experts from the restaurant and hotel industry. Over 60% are in top management; 81% are involved in the decisions to purchase products. While 55% of ProWein 2014 visitors were from Germany, and most of the international visitors from the rest of Europe, the U.S. checked in at #10 on the list of visitors’ countries of origin—representing the most attendees from any nation outside the EU. Clearly the built-in constraints of America’s state-based, three-tiered system are not keeping savvy U.S. trade members away.
As Michael Degen explains, feedback from 2014 visitors provides insight as to their goals and rewards: “While German visitors name new discoveries and trends as their main reason for visiting ProWein, North American visitors give the meeting of existing and the finding of new business partners as their main motivation to come to Düsseldorf. And that proves to be successful: 82% of them state that they found new suppliers.”
All things considered, ProWein’s dynamic growth—and Americans’ increasing involvement—provide confirmation that even in this Digital Age, there is still no substitute for face-to-face interaction when it comes to doing business.
ProWein: A Portrait in International Growth and Satisfaction
ProWein 2015 is March 15th-17th in Düsseldorf, Germany. For more information, prowein.com or mdna.com. For details regarding tickets or exhibiting, contact Messe Düsseldorf North America: (312) 781-5180; fax (312) 781- 5188; email email@example.com. For hotel and travel information, contact TTI Travel: (866) 674-3476; email firstname.lastname@example.org; traveltradeint.com.
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