What you need to know about HostMilano

host milano

The world’s reference exhibition for professional hospitality, out-of-home and retail is set to overtake Milan this October for the 57th biannual business event and global meeting, bringing together the entire industry supply chain.

Every two years, there’s an event that unites the global coffee industry like none other. Considered the “ultimate playground” of the latest, greatest, and most advanced coffee equipment, products, and technology to propel the international coffee industry into the next phase of development, this year’s HostMilano expo is expected to return in grand proportion.

“This year, we will see a lot of breakthrough technologies, from Artificial Intelligence-based intelligent interfaces and automation to robots, up to responsible and sustainable solutions with an eye on the circular economy. We will also see diverse formats meeting the consumer’s need for meaningful experiences, in line with their lifestyle,” says Simona Greco – Exhibitions Director of HostMilano.

As is tradition, this year’s event will see machine unveilings, software releases, new packaging and ready-to-drink consumption methods, and embrace tractability, sustainability and environmental methods of production like never before.

According to HostMilano, recent Future Market Insights research estimates that, for food service equipment alone, the value of the global market will reach US$44 billion this year, and will achieve US$76 billion in 2032 thanks to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +5.6 per cent. As for Italy, according to the ANIMA-Assofoodtec Study Office, food service equipment ‘Made in Italy’ ended 2022 at €4560 million, with a CAGR +4.5 per cent.

To date, some 1826 exhibitors are registered for HostMilano 2023, representing 40 per cent international from 50 countries. The United States is among the most represented non-European areas, alongside the traditional presence of European manufacturers including Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, as well as Turkey and China.

In addition to the thousands of professional operators attending, Italian and international exhibitors will use HostMilano to meet buyers from 63 countries, particularly from Canada, the United States, Central and South America and the Gulf countries, and with a comeback of Asian countries following pandemic restrictions. Greco says the scouting and selection effort was made even more effective this year thanks to ongoing collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency. To aid the experience, HostMilano has looked to enhance digital solutions to ensure buyers and sellers stay connected.

“We have certainly learned from the 2021 edition about the increasing importance of digital tools. We’ve implemented our proprietary business matching app and I think this will be the most valuable tool to navigate the exhibition, have a satisfactory visit experience, and make meaningful contacts,” Greco says.

HostMilano is returning to its usual October dates from 13 to 17 in Fieramilano Rho as a standalone event, after it shared the venue with TuttoFood in May 2021. Greco says the layout will embrace the entire fairgrounds, testimony to how much exhibitors deem it important to meet with their trade contacts and stakeholders in person.

The historic SIC – International Coffee Week returns, where major players in the supply chain – from traders to roasters, green bean traders to machinery manufacturers – will present their innovations, and national and international competitions throughout the expo.

“SIC is an unparalleled opportunity to meet all the players along the coffee value chain under one roof. In terms of trends and technology, we will see more automation, more user-friendly interfaces, and more connected, remotely operable devices. Both specialty coffee and espresso are growing market segments and we expect to see more and more diverse formats and concepts to meet the different emerging consumption habits,” Greco says.

Connections to competition

Adding to the character of this year’s expo is the Milan Latte Art Challenge, now in its fifth edition. Twelve of the best baristas in the world will compete with simple and traditional patterns and gradually move to increasingly complex designs and techniques. This year’s contender to beat is 2016 World Latte Art Champion, Korean Um Paul, and current holder of the Milan Latte Art Challenge title.

“It’s a face-to-face latte art challenge based on various levels and patterns within a system regulated by a precise disciplinary,” Greco says. “You have to be very good to reach the finals and all contestants will be serious competition for Um Paul.”

From latte art to traditional brewing, the Moka Challenge 2023 aims to reward those who can extract the best coffee using the “Moka” method. Competitors will have 10 minutes to prepare and serve three 10-millilitre cups of their moka interpretation.

The National Association of Coffee Roasters and Importers and Food Wholesalers in partnership with Latte Art Grading System (LAGS) will also host The LAGS and The World Championship WLAGS Battle, considered one of the most important circuits in the sector of latte art competitions, which has thousands of certified baristas in more than 50 countries.

Each year, LAGS’ national championships are held in various member states, followed by a world championship. Last year it was held in Abu Dhabi, and in 2023 it will be at HostMilano, where the system’s first historic championship was held.

Also returning to HostMilano after 2021’s huge success is Coffee Addition. The competition, in a “roadshow” format, will move through the various exhibition stands. The event is set to bring customers to booths to engage them with coffee-related mixology drinks.

Within the context of SIC, is the eighth Italian Cafeteria Grand Prix, which will test competitors with a timed challenge. Contestants must take into consideration the methodologies for the preparation of coffee and its derivatives, and prepare two cappuccinos, two espressos and two cold coffee-based drinks in 13 minutes, using Italian food and wine products.

After several selections held around Italy, 15 baristas will compete in the semi-finals at HostMilano on October 13, and eight will advance to the finals the following day, where will be declared the “2023 Best Italian Maestro del Caffè”. GCR

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This article was first published in the September/October 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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