Most people have been to a trade fair. The word ‘fair’ is a bit of a misnomer though as there aren’t many dodgems and carousels at these things. Think pop-up exhibition stands, hired white leather furniture, people looking awkward in company ties holding brochures that aren’t very interesting.
Car shows and technology fairs can be a lot of fun, but you wouldn’t normally put a fruit and veg trade fair down on your bucket list. That is until you’ve seen the weird and the wonderful at Fruit Logistica, a major exhibition held in Berlin each February. Inside the halls is like another world, away from the cold, grey gloom of Berlin in winter.
They hold it here because it’s one of the few places in the world with an exhibition centre large enough to hold it all. Think ExCel but BIGGER. Much bigger.
This is the place where growers of fruit and veg from all around the world converge. The Dutch pepper grower mingles with the Chilean blueberry farmer. Women with elaborate fruit head-dresses hula around displays of exotic product (it’s the place that feminism forgot…). From kiwis to carrots, lemons to lychees, it’s ALL on display in ever-creative ways. Trade associations and state grants help create some of the most complex trade stands in the world. Downstairs in the machinery halls, amazing machines whizz and pop as demonstration robots glue boxes together, fighting for attention with laser graders, netters and ginormous washers.
We go there to meet our growers and our customers. One flight to Berlin can save us many thousands of air miles for face-to-face meetings during the year. Our rather lovely parent company, Fresca Group, takes a large stand at the fair, equipping it with everything we need to work and play hard.
Our team of six held a whopping 35 scheduled meetings in two days. There were another 15 meetings with potential new suppliers and customers in between.
It’s not just about numbers though. Were these meetings any good? Well, of course they were. They were a chance to meet new suppliers so we can really define the standard for our supply. It’s a chance to explain thoroughly the ethical and environmental standards we need along with our quality expectations for the fruit they send. This year we’ve come away with promising suppliers in three new potential source countries that we’ll be following up with shortly. We’ve also found new customers in our target sales territories and we’ve sewn up a couple of contracts we were looking to finalise.
It’s not all work, work, work though. Kenny claimed the ‘smug’ prize by hitting the hotel gym before the show opened on Wednesday. Paul W got the ‘endurance’ prize for carrying on meetings even after losing his voice and Paul F got an entirely different ‘endurance’ prize for his committed approach to entertaining customers.
So. Fruit Logistica – is it worth it? You’ve got to be in it to win it, they say. Of course it’s worth it.