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Friday, June 14, 2024

A flavorful feast of opportunities

By Do An

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The aroma of spices and the colors of fresh produce filled the air at THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2024, the largest regional food and beverage (F&B) trade show. Held from May 28 to June 1 in Bangkok, Thailand, this week-long event marked a milestone for businesses seeking to expand their footprint in the booming Asian F&B market.

In its 32nd edition, THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2024 attracted 85,850 visitors from 131 countries and territories. The event’s global appeal was evident in the 21.6% surge in international visitors compared to last year. With 3,133 exhibitors representing 52 countries and territories, THAIFEX solidified its reputation as the go-to platform for showcasing the latest trends, innovations and products in the F&B industry.

Mathias Kuepper, managing director and vice president APAC of Koelnmesse, co-organizer of the event, emphasized the comprehensive nature of THAIFEX – Anuga Asia, stating, “It’s the packaging, the manufacturing process, and the whole value chain.” This approach allows businesses to address various challenges across the industry, from sourcing ingredients to packaging and distribution, he added.

Vietnamese flavors 

Over 150 Vietnamese companies participated in the event, presenting a diverse array of products from healthy rice-based snacks to traditional rice paper and noodles.

Pham Duy Cuong, sales manager of HTK Co., Ltd, said, “The event has been instrumental in helping us expand our reach in the regional market.” THAIFEX provides a platform for businesses to interact directly with customers, build brand awareness, and establish valuable partnerships, he added.

Tommy Pham, CEO of Green Starch J.S.C, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the event’s role in connecting Vietnamese businesses with wholesale buyers, particularly in Thailand. He said the show had been able to reach a wider audience and explore new business opportunities.

The active participation of Vietnamese businesses at THAIFEX reflects a broader trend of growing international interest in the Asian F&B market. With a rapidly expanding consumer base and evolving tastes, the region presents a lucrative opportunity for companies, including those from Vietnam, to diversify their markets and tap into new consumer segments.

A glimpse into the future of food

Beyond traditional offerings, THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2024 highlighted the growing appetite for plant-based alternatives. The Future Food Experience+ program featured an alternative protein flavor and taste contest, where innovative products such as Thai Green Curry Gyoza, EPL Mushroom Balls, and Hello M’arch Quinoa Noodle Meal Kits captivated attendees.

These award-winning products are a clear indication of the increasing demand for plant-based options during the exhibition, signaling a shift in consumer preferences toward healthier and more sustainable choices. This activity demonstrated the F&B industry’s commitment to innovation, and the exciting possibilities in the realm of alternative proteins.

Given the discerning consumer demand, Lynn How, project director of THAIFEX, underlined the event’s evolution to meet changing industry needs. “We are showcasing products in these particular areas (and) companies that actually produce innovative products and sustainable ideas to the industry itself,” she added.

In the words of How, a “multi-dimensional experience” for consumers encompasses not only healthy and delicious food but also sustainability and convenience. This trend is reflected in the growing popularity of superfoods and plant-based alternatives, which are increasingly becoming mainstream choices for health-conscious consumers.

Fostering global connections

Wendy Lim, general manager of Koelnmesse’s Business Unit Food, acknowledged the challenges facing the industry in the post-pandemic era. However, she stressed the importance of viewing these challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation. The organizers implemented various initiatives to enhance efficiency and improve the visitor experience, such as interactive maps, mobile apps, and touchscreens.

Koelnmesse executives pose for a group photo. (L-R) Lynn How, project director; Mathias Kuepper, managing director and vice president APAC of Koelnmesse; and Wendy Lim, general manager of Koelnmesse’s Business Unit Food

Out of the total exhibitors, 2,024 were international, with representatives from nine countries participating in the event for the first time, including Bolivia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Macedonia, Mexico, Yemen, Kazakhstan and Oman.

One of THAIFEX’s features is its hosted buyer program, a collaborative effort between the government and the organizers. This year, the program flew in 1,935 handpicked buyers from 46 countries and territories, offering an opportunity for international exhibitors to connect with key decision-makers and potential partners.

The Koelnmesse organizers emphasized their goal of bringing in buyers specifically interested in the products showcased at this particular show. This ensures that the hosted buyers are well-matched with exhibitors, maximizing the potential for fruitful business interactions.

According to the organizing committee, exhibitors from the the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) reported successful lead generation with a diverse range of international buyers, including those from countries like Australia and New Zealand and regions such as Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and America.

Simply put, THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2024 served as a crossroads for the global F&B industry. The event’s success not only underscored the growing importance of the Asian market but also highlighted the power of collaboration, innovation, and the shared passion for culinary excellence within this dynamic industry.

The THAIFEX organizers are committed to maintaining the event’s position as the leading platform for the F&B industry in the Asia Pacific region. They plan to expand the show further, increase exhibitor diversity, and continue showcasing the latest trends and innovations.

As Kuepper put it, “We’re well-positioned, but we’re always looking for ways to grow the show.”

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