Posted on | December 22, 2015
Written by | W.R. Tish
Every March in Düsseldorf, Germany, the wine industry kicks into gear at ProWein, the global stage for a vibrant global industry.
January begins the calendar year, but for the global wine trade, 2016 does not really get started until mid-March, when ProWein once again turns Düsseldorf into the center of the wine universe. Since its inception in 1994, the number of ProWein exhibitors has grown 15 times; its number of visitors 30 times; and the occupied space 18 times. This year, trade visitors will again top 50,000.
The cusp-of-spring timing is ideal for presenting new (northern hemisphere)vintages, of course, but even more importantly, it has made ProWein a formidable launchpad for new products, packages and brands. “ProWein is a platform for novelties in every respect,” says Michael Degen, Executive Director at Messe Düsseldorf and Director of ProWein. He adds, “The early timing also has clear advantages for many export-focused companies from other continents. Getting together at such an early stage in the year means that decisions can be made which will impact the conceptual direction within the same year.”
Getting a jump on the other major wine trade shows is but one advantage of ProWein. Scope is another; ProWein is truly global, with 6,000 exhibitors from 50+ countries, 82% from outside Germany. Also vital: focus. ProWein is exclusively for the trade; being in business-friendly Düsseldorf rather than in a wine region (à la Vinexpo and Vinitaly) keeps the focus squarely
Not to be discounted: efficiency. And from the city’s business-friendly city services to the modern, modular facility and the custom app that enables planning for the show weeks in advance, as huge as ProWein has become, it remains eminently manageable in its annual three-day run.
Last year, ProWein turned an important corner when the Messe Düsseldorf fairgrounds—essentially a campus of connected halls—shifted ProWein from Halls 1-7 to Halls 9-17, in response to both exhibitors requiring more space and from wine and spirits producers who had been waitlisted. “Thanks to the new hall layout, we increased our exhibition space by a gigantic 20%. And so we’ve now reached around 6,000 exhibitors,” notes Michael Degen. “I think we’ve come to a point that needs to be consolidated in the sense of an organic growth before we go any further. This is why, at the moment, it’s all the more important for us to attract new visitors.”
With the halls filled but fluid, and post-show satisfaction impeccably high among exhibitors and visitors alike, the show has reached a plateau of sorts. It has become the international stage that a now-global wine industry needs and deserves. Which is all the more reason that savvy Americans are scoping out ProWein, despite our country’s unique three-tier system.
ProWein’s organizers understand how the U.S. market differs. “Admittedly, most trade markets for wine are a lot simpler than those in the 50 U.S. states,” notes Degen. “Yet where wine consumption is concerned, the U.S. is currently right at the top, not only regarding the quantity but also because of the quality. U.S. consumers have a very outstanding knowledge of wine and appreciate fine wines. So here’s my message to all buyers from the States: Don’t miss the opportunities that are offered by ProWein. Nowhere else will you see such a complete and comprehensive overview of the current range of fine wines from all over the world.”
A new feature at ProWein 2016: for U.S. importers and wholesalers coming to the show, ProWein and Wine Enthusiast have built “Route USA.” The Route will guide visitors from the U.S to those producers who seek to meet them. Producers will have special Route USA signage on their booth indicating their interest in finding importing and distribution partners in the United States.
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. And what are they looking for? The top aim, according to exit surveys, was meeting with existing suppliers and business partners, followed closely by tracking innovation/trends and identifying new suppliers and partners. Clearly, ProWein delivered, and not just for Europeans: more than three-quarters of the 2015 North American visitors stated they did indeed find new suppliers.
And most of them will likely be back: 97% of ProWein 2015 visitors indicated that they were satisfied with the show, and well over half already planned their visit for ProWein 2016 before they left Düsseldorf.
For more information, visit www.prowein.com.