Exclusive Interview: südback Highlights Regional Values

With südback 2019, Messe Stuttgart underlines its claim as the only trade fair company in Germany focusing on the trade to cover the entire industry. This year, we should expect a focus on digitalization, with new innovations highlighted at the Bakers’ Trend Forum and the Confectioners’ Trend Forum. 

The main focus of the exhibition remains unchanged since its debut in 1978: the trade. Whether it is working and operating technology, shop fixtures and fittings, raw materials, merchandise or sales promotion – all products and services showcased at südback 2019 are adapted to the needs of artisan bakers and confectioners. Anne-Kathrin Müller (pictured), project manager, told us how this focus will be reflected this year, in an exclusive interview.  

How will the focus on the trade be reflected at südback 2019?

südback 2019 will continue a long success story. It is the largest and most important trade fair for the bakery and confectionery trade, a platform where tradition and innovation come together. On a gross exhibition area of around 65,000sqm, visitors can look forward to an extensive range of products in the key areas of working and operating technology, raw materials, merchandise, shop fixtures and fittings, sales promotion and services. A varied accompanying program will provide information on current trends, developments and future opportunities in the industry – and will also offer ample opportunity for technical exchanges. The event concept is validated by the increasing number of visitors for years and the growing interest among exhibitors.  

What are some of the innovations we can expect at südback in all areas of the industry? 

Highly interesting solutions for a large number of digital application areas are presented at südback, for example. Digitalization is making inroads into many different processes such as accounting, stock keeping, branch profit calculation, customer communication, and sales – and is, therefore, posing new challenges for the industry. However, it also offers great opportunities. It is important for the bakery trade to timely adapt to these changed conditions. A large number of bakeries are already using, for example, digital order systems which are proving very popular with customers. 

What are some of the new features at südback this year? Please also refer to the new hall concept. 

Halls 5, 7 and 9, as well as the Oskar Lapp Hall (Hall 6), the Alfred Kärcher Hall (Hall 8) and the new Paul Horn Hall (Hall 10) will be occupied. With this compact block, we will open up südback better than ever since the opposite halls enable close linking of all relevant topic areas and ensure an optimized flow of visitors. The smooth flow of visitors will also be ensured by using two trade fair entrances, East and West. Thanks to the increase of around 10,000sqm in exhibition space, we have been able to eliminate the waiting list and take into account several new exhibitors. Visitors should, therefore, have enough time for their attendance at the trade fair. 

And what highlights should visitors mark in their agenda to attend from the returning events? 

The numerous highlights will include the Bakers’ Trend Forum and the Confectioners’ Trend Forum, where new products and innovative technology are presented. There will also be interesting talks during the forums and exciting baking demonstrations, which regularly attract crowds of enthusiastic visitors. Very special attention will naturally be paid to the südback Trend Award, which has been presented since 2002 for innovative new products in regard to their technology, design, and concept. In the last few years, südback has recorded a huge increase in the number of participants, especially from abroad. This shows the importance of the Award throughout the industry. For this year’s südback Trend Award, the jury is spoiled with choices, since more than 60 entries were received. 

südback aims to promote the strengths and regional features of the bakery trade. What are some of the important ones that exert influence in the European markets?

Nowhere else will you find such a wide range of bread as in Germany. This is a culinary treasure and a cultural legacy that has to be protected, but also communicated to the outside world. südback is regarded as a regional showcase for the bakery trade which, especially in rural areas, is not only very important for nutrition and local supply, but also represents a part of their identity. There is also increasing networking across national borders in the bakery and confectionery trades. This can be an enormous advantage for companies who are prepared to learn from others. 

In addition to baking, südback will also host the latest from the adjacent worlds of coffee and ice cream. What are some of the highlights of these sectors, from the exhibits displayed during the fair? 

We are seeing a continuous increase in the offering here: the boundaries between bakeries, cake shops, and cafés are now becoming blurred in many places, for example when ice cream and coffee specialties are offered in a seating corner in addition to bread and cakes. The former side-line business has now become an important component in total turnover. Although craft quality and regional products are always in demand, customers’ wishes are changing constantly. For example, more attention is also being paid to environmental compatibility, organic products, and fair trade. At südback, you will find everything relating to ice cream and coffee – from vegan ice cream delights through to sustainable disposable cups. 

What makes südback a growing platform in the age of complete digitalization,?

Craft production of food, especially bakery products, is something emotional and something sensual. Especially in the digital age, seeing, smelling, feeling and – in the best sense of the word – touching are therefore still irreplaceable. Ultimately, the added value of a trade fair is in the direct, interpersonal contact with customers, colleagues, international market leaders, and experts. A trade fair such as südback plays an important role here as a marketplace for ideas.

Please comment on the latest shifts and innovations in snacking.

The potential with snacks is also by no means exhausted. When there’s a need for a quick midday meal or a relaxed breakfast outside the house, the baker around the corner is the first point of call for many people. Creativity is also called for in this case: a large number of companies now offer a wide range of cold and warm snacks – the good old sandwich is also currently enjoying a minor renaissance. Thanks to modern presentation techniques, everything remains pleasantly appetizing. südback also naturally contains a large number of fresh ideas in this respect. 

How do EU policy updates support/impact the baking industry in German-speaking countries and beyond? What should bakers lobby for in the long run? 

The influence of the European Union is also certainly becoming more important in the bakery trade. The German baking market is also profiting in this respect, although the majority of relevant decisions are still made at federal level. Every new regulation contains potential consequences for production and operation. You only need to think about binding quality assurance in raw materials, the promotion of agriculture and rural areas, or the protection of regional foodstuffs against imitation. This list includes Westphalian pumpernickel, Bavarian pretzels or Nuremberg gingerbread (Lebkuchen).  

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