The Power of Anuga
Anuga, one of the largest food and beverage events in the world returns to Cologne, Germany. Its base is European, but its reach is global, and ‘its power should not be underestimated’ says Noreen Lanigan, regional manager, Europe and North America, Bord Bia (Irish Food Board). Here, Noreen discusses the significance of this biennial event, which facilitates superb networking and business-growth opportunities for Irish companies
“Structured engagements such as Anuga offer a real opportunity to communicate the premium quality of Ireland’s food and drink offering,” says Noreen. “These trade shows are critical for the growth of the sector, not least because of the business potential involved for Irish companies trading within the EU, which represents 34% of total Irish food and drink exports,” she adds.
The attendance numbers associated with Anuga 2021 indicate that over 70,000 visitors from 169 countries and over 4,600 exhibitors from 98 nations took part. And this year, these numbers are all set to rise. So, the opportunity that Noreen is referring to is huge for the 15 companies exhibiting there in October 2023 across three Bord Bia Origin Green pavilions – meat, dairy and frozen. "It is like 10 trade shows under one roof, and is a significant opportunity for Irish processors and food producers to connect with their existing global customer base and discuss future business growth opportunities,” says Noreen. A number of other independent Irish companies will also be present this year at Anuga, so Ireland’s flag will be flying strongly.
Bord Bia support
In the run up to Anuga, work has been ongoing in the background to ensure that Irish companies can capitalise on the trade fair’s offerings. To expedite connecting buyers and Irish suppliers, Bord Bia’s German office undertook a major pre-event trade marketing and awareness campaign to promote the Irish industry’s presence at Anuga. This included targeting more than 1,000 key influential buyers to visit the Origin Green stand.
“As 76% of visitors and 92% of exhibitors were from outside of Germany in 2021, Anuga remains fundamental to the industry’s drive in building exports as it offers a unique opportunity to meet and build relationships with new and existing buyers,” says Noreen.
In addition, Bord Bia also organised beef and dairy business-to-business (B2B) marketing campaigns across trade print publications, trade digital websites, and LinkedIn, targeting trade customers of beef and dairy. “The objective of these campaigns is to communicate the unique selling points of Irish grass-fed beef and dairy. The combined reach across the different platforms for these campaigns is 1.6 million for dairy and 737,000 people for beef,” explains Noreen.
During Anuga, a Bord Bia corporate campaign aims to target buyers across all food and drink sectors, while a separate campaign targeting trade customers for frozen PCF in Germany, UK and the Netherlands will also run on LinkedIn. These campaigns will have a combined reach of 300,000 people.
“There will be advertising across the Anuga marketing platforms, on their mobile app, on the website and in their buyer newsletter,” adds Noreen. “And along with advertising banners at the north and east entrances to the show, and in the main boulevard, Bord Bia is also advertising Irish beef on a giant digital screen, located at a high-traffic crossing, which is expected to reach 1.8 million people,” she adds.
The primary focus for Ireland at Anuga 2023 is to target meat and dairy customers from the top-three visitor countries attending the show, namely Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, explains Noreen. “Currently 50% of Irish beef, 74% of Irish lamb and 36% of Irish dairy exports are sold in Europe. The show is hugely important for connecting with customers there and further afield to continue to grow business primarily with a strong existing customer base.”
But globally, Irish food and drink are performing ‘exceptionally well’ according to Noreen, and securing a variety of markets around the world is key. “Exports increased by 22% in 2022, valued at €16.5bn, during a period of unprecedented change and challenges. Last year, Ireland exported the equivalent of over €45m worth of food and drink every day to customers in 187 countries around the world,” says Noreen.
“Maintaining a diverse range of markets and channels around the world has been key to the success and continued growth of Ireland’s food and drink exports. In 2022, Continental Europe remained Ireland’s largest food and drink export destination accounting for 35% of exports and delivering the strongest growth in both value (+30%) and volume terms (+5%), while the UK and international markets both now account for 32% and 33% of exports, respectively.”
Exports to North America increased by almost 40% to €2bn, and while China’s Covid-19 restrictions contributed to a decline in exports there, growth in the value of exports to the Philippines, Japan and South Korea partially offset this decline. “Overall, Ireland’s food and drink exports to Asia increased by 4% to €1.4 billion,” says Noreen.
Converting to growth
If Covid-19 taught us anything, it was the importance of human interaction, of in-person communication, of making eye contact, and sharing a handshake. These help to form the foundations of strong relationships and can help overcome challenges that, inevitably, arise.
“Flagship events such as Anuga are fundamental to the Irish food and drink industry’s drive to reconnect in person with key customers, and to partner with them to build sustainable value chains to meet the ambitions of Food Vision 2030, Ireland’s strategy for the agri-food sector,” says Noreen. “Sometimes these meetings can lead to direct business and at other times, business conversion happens a few months down the line,” she adds.
“The biggest challenge faced by companies is negotiating price increases with existing customers in the current inflationary context. Security of supply and long-term partnerships have never been more important.
“With Origin Green, Ireland is uniquely positioned to supply sustainably produced food and drink to these international customers who all have ambitious sustainability targets and demands on their Irish suppliers.”
At home with sustainability
Anuga 2023’s general theme is ‘sustainable growth’ and with Origin Green – Ireland’s national food and drink sustainability plan – underpinning much of their production practices, Irish companies are very much at ease with such a theme. Noreen explains: “Irish food and drink companies have long-term, independently verified sustainability plans in place through the [Origin Green] programme, and work towards achieving measurable goals year on year.”
Since Origin Green was founded in 2012, Bord Bia has worked with Irish companies to help them achieve their business and sustainability goals in line with the most up-to-date market research, Noreen points out. “Most importantly, and this is particularly important for our international customers, where sustainability is concerned, championing a message of evidence-based decision making is crucial to moving our industry towards a sustainable future.
“And the fact that the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue is visiting Anuga to officially launch Ireland’s presence there, is a huge support in our efforts to promote the Irish food industry’s credentials as a leader in the production of sustainable food.”
Indeed, Anuga provides a perfect platform from which Bord Bia can share the Origin Green story with the world, says Noreen. “We can now demonstrate the alignment of the Origin Green Charter with 15 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are going further by creating a cohort of future leaders in sustainability. This year saw the inauguration of the 52nd Origin Green Ambassador [in Ireland]. Collectively, these future leaders have undertaken over 100 projects with companies in 14 countries including the US, China, UAE and Europe.
“Bord Bia’s recently established Global Council brings together the collective wisdom of leading policy and decision makers in government and the private sector, as well as sustainability advocates from NGOs and non-profit organisations. These are all core elements of the Irish food and drink industry that we are excited about sharing with new and existing customers this year at Anuga,” says Noreen.
Future fairs and hero products
Quarter four of 2023 is a busy period for Irish food and drink companies, according to Noreen, with Bord Bia organising and coordinating the Irish presence at a host of other European trade fairs for retail and food service channels in the coming months. These include:
Natexpo in France where the focus is on organic products;
Conxemar, a seafood show in Spain; and
Food Ingredients Europe in Germany.
In addition to this, Bord Bia is investing in beef marketing across key UK and EU markets this autumn to specifically spotlight Irish quality-assured steak in the UK, Germany, Italy and Belgium, with stewing cuts being the hero product in the Netherlands. In addition to in-store promotions across Europe, there will be over 650 quality-assured Irish steak advertisements running on billboards in Milan, Rome and Florence in Italy. In the UK, Bord Bia is partnering with Michelin star chef, Paul Foster, to promote Irish beef at his new restaurant, Grass Fed, in Camden.
In 2018, Bord Bia became a registered participant of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative with over 13,000 corporate participants and stakeholders from over 160 countries.