It has been a long and fruitful year at Sahadi’s but the business never allows much personal downtime, so I tacked on a day and a half onto our latest business trip to unwind with my husband and business partner, Pat. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from these moments of leisure -- when I'm using my tourist eyes and tastebuds to absorb an exceptionally beautiful display at a market or tasting a novel flavor profile in a great local restaurant. We traveled from NYC to Frankfurt, Germany and then hopped on a quick flight to sunny Mallorca, Spain. Two great meals later and a day and a half in the Mediterranean sunshine readied us for the busy working days ahead. Mallorcan restaurants have absolutely fabulous seafood displays where you can just point to what you want, tell them how much weight or quantity, and they will grill it on the spot, seasoned simply with olive oil, lemon juice and spices, along with the famous salts of Mallorca. It was just what we needed.
Ready to walk the show, we left Mallorca and traveled back to Germany for Anuga. Anuga is the largest food trade show in the world, and encompasses 11 huge Javits-sized buildings in Cologne, Germany. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world assemble to buy, sell, and meet & greet suppliers and customers. Pat & I split up to see as much of the show as possible. We walked the show all day long, then met colleagues for late dinners, spending the last few minutes before sleep preparing for the next day. We did this for four straight days!
As you travel to the show you are met with the sight of thousands queuing up for the train and then the show. It is an amazing sight. You need a map to keep track of where you have been and where you are going. I walked over 8 miles a day indoors!
There are aisles and aisles of amazing foods and exhibits. There are booths from countries around the world, both large and small. Many foods were familiar and available on our shelves; others I had never seen before. For me, one of the best parts of the show is looking at familiar brands with much larger product lines that never reach the USA. I always wonder what informs the decision to export certain items but not others. For fresh or perishable items, each country has their own rules so that variance makes sense, but with shelf-stable items..? Another thing I love is to peruse the booths of countries with more difficult export paths to the US. I spent some time in the Syrian pavilion looking at beautiful pastries and pistachios. The booth was beautiful and the pistachios displayed in an inventive way.
Other things that caught my attention were the eye-catching charcuterie displays -- dozens of absolutely gorgeous hams. There were some ingenious olive oil displays and an unbelievable ice display. And of course, since it was Germany: miles of cheese and a pretzel tree.
Other important trends I noticed was the ever-growing Bio (Organic) category and the increase in the allergen-free sku’s. Both had significant growth since the last show I attended two years ago. Overall, Anuga showed that natural and health foods are on people's minds worldwide. Knowing what you are eating and being mindful of what you put in your body were recurring themes.
After three days of walking and three nights of business dinners with terrific colleagues, we were ready to return to NYC full of ideas and excited to add a few new items and play around with merchandising. It's always good to be back in Brooklyn!