Coffee steals the show at Host 2017

As expected for another year of HostMilano, attendance numbers climbed and Italians dominated. And also as expected, coffee commanded a majority of the show, permeating an increasing number of sections. The four-day hotel, restaurant and café-centric (HoReCa) event that takes over the Fiera Milano complex every other October welcomed 187,602 visitors – a 24.3 per cent increase from 2015 – and 2,165 exhibitors. Italians made up more than 61 per cent in both categories. Consistent with more recent years, however, countries like Asia, Australia and North America have had the competitive edge over Italians in the coffee section of the show, which is a historic stronghold of HostMilano. The greater “Coffee, Tea, Vending Machine, Gelato and Pastry” sector made up more than one-third of the exhibitors, at 35.5 per cent. Although this percentage confirmed pre-show projections, Simona Greco, Director of Art, Fashion, Hospitality and Travel at Fiera Milano, estimates the exact number is actually higher due to coffee’s aforementioned presence in other sectors. “We think the share of coffee-related exhibitors may have been higher because of the increasing [incidence of] hybridisation that has led many companies that are not primarily coffee based to include coffee-related products or services in their offerings.” She adds, “The same can be said about the attendees: We can assume that professional visitors primarily interested in coffee were at least one-third of the total, but that many more whose core business isn’t coffee visited the sector, too, [for] some of those coffee-related products or services.” That “hybridisation” she speaks of was a theme the team at Fiera Milano both anticipated and integrated at the event this year. A new addition was the Experience Gallery between the Coffee and Gelato-Pastry sections. The hallway connected the two adjoining halls literally and figuratively, showing the natural overlap of the complementary sectors. The overlap continued into the connected halls as well, with piazzas where visitors could enjoy experiences related to the opposite product category. The new layout proved even more successful than anticipated, says Greco. “The two piazzas at the respective ends of the Experience Gallery quickly became meeting points during the show, where operators and professional visitors exchanged ideas and contacts, making hybridisation [even] more real.” In planning for the event, Greco and her team were simply building on a trend seen in the greater coffee and HoReCa industries over the years, “so synergies with coffee were of paramount importance in the process,” she tells Global Coffee Report. “We bet on hybridisation when the concept was still unknown to many and we won.” “Hybridisation is a fact and we only expect to see more coffee in [complementary] sectors,” she adds, highlighting beverages and foodservice as sections that will likely see more overlap with coffee. “The introduction of coffee into mixology in this edition was a huge success. New cooking technologies and techniques are also making it easier to use coffee as an ingredient.” In fact, the show has a specific event dedicated to pairing coffee and other ingredients. On 21 and 22 October, the Italian Academy of Master Coffee Makers hosted the 5th Italian Café Grand Prix within HostMilano. The competition, which is aimed at highlighting Italian café professionalism and coffee products, tasked each participating barista with creating the best coffee beverage recipe that integrates both espresso and at least one Italian ingredient. This year’s panel of sensory judges chose Andrea Villa for his Americano cocktail that was prepared with coffee from a “niche next-generation roaster from Bergamo,” Italian bitter and Vermouth. Villa runs a café in the small town of Lissone, Italy, just north of Milan. Other contestants’ recipes included variations of cappuccinos, espressos and cold coffee drinks. In addition to greater presence in other sectors, Greco sees coffee receiving greater representation at more granular levels in future shows, with focus on specialisation, specialty coffees, the espresso culture and alternative brewing methods, for instance. Some exhibitors are already headed in that direction, all while perpetuating the hybridisation trend. Italian coffee giant Lavazza unveiled a new organic coffee, Alteco Premium Blend, and a special edition single-origin coffee from Ethiopia, Kafa.
On the first day of the event, celebrated pastry chef Loretta Fanella presented desserts created with Kafa, including coffee nougat, chocolate biscuits, lemon verbena shortbread and coffee truffles. Then on 23 October, new Lavazza Brand Ambassador and famed Italian bartender Dennis Zoppi used Lavazza’s Tierra blend from Brazil in a coffee mixology session where he shared exclusive cocktail recipes. He owns a well-known bar in Lavazza’s hometown of Turin, Italy. On the equipment front Lavazza debuted the special Minivending, a new automatic, table-top vending machine, and improved versions of its Firma and Jolie machines. The Firma system machines, which serve the office environment, have been completely restyled into four new models that focus on balancing compactness with quality performance. The new Jolie Plus is a more advanced version of the original Jolie of the Lavazza A Modo Mio capsule coffee system that serves the in-room hotel segment. “The ‘away from home’ channel is constantly becoming more strategic for Lavazza and HostMilano is the ideal place to present our complete product range,” says Michele Cannone, Lavazza’s Head of Global Marketing Foodservice. “During the event, we had the chance to showcase our innovative and premium product options to meet every foodservice need. Thanks to its continued success this year, Host has once again been a hub for the international HoReCa world with many activities and a large and engaged audience, all alongside high quality exhibitors.” Intended to facilitate networking and business meetings across the HoReCa sectors, more than 500 activities and events were scheduled during the four days. According to HostMilano, the crowd in attendance was mostly composed of purchasing managers and other company decision-makers, including 1500 hosted buyers who had been profiled and hand-selected by Italian Trade Agency to ensure the maximum benefit for exhibitors and attendees. This year’s event earned the prestigious US Commercial Service Certification, issued by the US Department of Commerce in recognition of HostMilano’s ability as an international fair to foster business. “Host is a success story that is almost unique in the international world of exhibitions and events,” says Fabrizio Curci, CEO and Director General of Fiera Milano. “With an increment of 24.3 per cent in the number of professional visitors, Host confirmed its status as a true world hub of the hospitality macro-sector, the place where its chains meet to mould the trends of tomorrow and to do business and networking.” Although Greco won’t reveal any additional details of future shows beyond coffee’s increasing presence, within both its own sector and other sectors, she ensures that HostMilano will continue to stay at the forefront of industry trends and in tune to visitors’ and exhibitors’ needs. “The success of HostMilano is owed to a unique concept that builds upon […] the combination of a comprehensive industry overview with thorough drilldowns into the vertical sectors and upon constant evolutions that anticipate and accompany changes in the market,” she tells GCR, confident that the coffee sector will long remain pivotal for future editions of the show. “We rely a lot on feedback from exhibitors, buyers and professional visitors because we value constant dialogue with all the players throughout the [HoReCa] industry.” The next edition of HostMilano will once again be held in the Fiera Milano complex and will take place from 18 to 22 October, 2019. GCR

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