The international trends in the bakery and confectionery industries were represented at this years’ edition of ARTOZA. The 15th edition of the international trade fair for the bakery and patisserie sectors brought international industry professionals to Metropolitan Expo in Athens, Greece, March 3-6. Professionals from Nicosia, Limassol, Sofia, Tirana and Bucharest, from a total of 21 countries, visited the 250 exhibitors stands at the show. To find out more on the insights of the event, we interviewed Mr. Nikos Choudalakis (pictured), the CEO and managing director of FORUM SA – the organizer of ARTOZA and Food Expo (both trade fairs held in March).
By Catalina Mihu
WorldBakers (WB): The 15th edition of Artoza was held at the beginning of March. What new features were introduced in 2017? And what are the characteristics that define Artoza?
Nikos Choudalakis (NC): This year’s event was generally acknowledged as the highest quality iteration of the exhibition’s 27-year-long history. Beyond the commercial interest, the 15th ARTOZA also impressed everyone in terms of its liveliness, originality and “pulse”. The exhibitor stands played a significant role within this climate of total renewal, both with their spectacular, European-level design, as well as the happenings that they offered visitors during all four days of the exhibition. At the same time, the special events that took place on the main stage and the seminar halls were of such a high standard and targeted interest, that the response of visitors was unprecedented, also demonstrating the high level of requirements carried by modern sector professionals. Bakery and pastry masterclasses by prominent figures of the Greek scene, management seminars, social media, costing and coffee seminars by specialized and renowned speakers, demonstrations, workshops, small and large-scale events, all captivated visitors and transformed the fair into a vast training celebration.
WB: What is the profile of its visitors? What are your long-term plans regarding the show’s international participation?
NC: A large number of targeted professional visitors from the entire bakery-pastry sector visited the 15th ARTOZA. The visitors of the trade show are owners and staff of businesses from bakeries and patisseries, patisserie workshops, of facilities producing bakery, patisserie, ice cream, pastry and chocolate products. They are also raw material merchants and suppliers, machinery and supply merchants, bakery - patisserie artisans, pizza and pie workshop owners, hotel chefs, cooks and F&B managers. Furthermore, owners and staff from catering companies, liquor stores, sweet shops, cafés, snack bars, fast food and pizza restaurants and restaurant-coffee shop chains visit every two years ARTOZA.
This year 35,000 visitors, from 15,188 businesses across Greece—but also from abroad— came to Athens for the fair. All these visitors were strictly professionals, they attended the show ready for new business collaborations and they were determined to close deals. Furthermore, the percentage of ARTOZA’s international visitors has increased.
WB: What industry segments are among exhibitor categories at Artoza?
NC: The categories of our exhibitors are vast, from manufacturers to importers. The companies participating in ARTOZA offer visitors the chance to see up close the best products available in the market concerning: bakery, pastry and ice cream raw materials, furniture and equipment, pastry and bakery machinery, bakery and dough products, coffee, beverages, juices and water, unpackaged ice cream and ice cream products, chocolate and sugar products and finally packaging products and decoration.
WB: Which of the European trends in bakery could be observed reflected at the exhibitors’ stands this year?
NC: Concerning the products, we saw a lot of “less”, “low” and “free” new lines from major suppliers, and this was quite expected as this kind of nutrition meets the consumers' expectations, as well as the scientific guidelines and, eventually, the new trends that the public embraces. The exhibitors did their best in that field, and this was also very powerful in the gelato section, where genius and genuine combinations were presented. Also, the enrichment of mixtures with nutritious ingredients is still a very strong trend, which I believe will stay with us for many years.
WB: What is the influence of Greek bakery products outside the country, from what can be observed at the fair? How do you expect this to evolve? And what are the opportunities for Greek manufacturers in this respect?
NC: The Greek diet is one of the most influential diets across the globe and more and more people are focusing on it every day. This is a great opportunity, a passport, for Greek bakery products to travel outside national borders and meet the needs of the European public. ARTOZA welcomed professional visitors from 21 countries from all over the world. (…) New important agreements were signed, and this raised the level of outreach for Greek suppliers market and built confidence for the exhibitors. This is the area we are going to put all our efforts in, now that we are planning the 16th ARTOZA in two years, March 2019.
WB: How do you evaluate the bakery industry landscape over the past years? What are your thoughts on the evolution of bakery in Greece and in Europe, on mid-to-long-term?
NC: One must admit that the eight-year-long crisis has deeply affected the bakery sector. Bakery shops were forced to close as the purchasing power of Greek consumers was reduced. Nevertheless, owners of bakery shops did find ways to fight back by enlarging the variety of products and services in their shops and by embracing the new demands of the public, such as coffee, brunch or “home made” lunches. This was a great conquest for the bakery business in general. As for the years to come, I am very confident that the bakery industry will grow over the next years - as new concepts and ideas are now in the process of being born, and ARTOZA will always be the perfect “greenhouse” for the future of bakery and confectionery in Greece and N/Α Europe.
Overall, 2,500 food traders from 64 countries visited FOOD EXPO from March 18 to 20, where they had 11,500 organized meetings with Greek exhibitors in a specially designated area within the fair. Among the fair’s 60,000 visiting professionals, some 30% are active in small retail and food and beverage trade. Approximately 26% of them come from the broader restaurant, coffee and confectionery sectors, while 11% are production specialists. More than half (54%) of visitors came from the Attica region.