See international ingredients and hi-tech trends in action
By Doug Picklyk
Food service professionals from around the world gather every two years in the fashion capital of Milan, Italy to attend Host Milano in order to see, touch and taste the latest in products that are in demand worldwide.
The biannual event serves as a exhibition for the Ho.Re.Ca (hotels, restaurants catering) industry, touching all aspects of food service, retail, ingredients, coffee, large-scale retailing and hotels. And according to event organizers, in 2017, as the show celebrates its 40th anniversary, Canada is among its focus countries.
Beyond fashion and design, artisans of all kinds are attracted to Milan as a home of innovation. And for anyone seeking a complete overview of ingredients, machines, accessories and equipment for making bread, pizza and pasta, as well as coffee, tea, gelato and pastries, Host Milano is the event to attend.
Taking place at the Fiera Milano fairgrounds in Milan from October 20 to 24, 2017, the show company states that more than 800 exhibitors have already confirmed their participation and the available space is filling up. The exhibition will occupy 16 exhibit halls, two more halls than in 2015, covering the entire ground area of the exhibition centre.
Based on previous editions, Host Milano attracts a very international crowd, with 40 per cent of exhibitors coming from outside of Italy, representing 38 countries around the world. Exhibiting nations include Germany, with 15 per cent of companies, followed by Spain with 14 per cent, France and the United States with seven per cent and the Netherlands and Switzerland with six per cent. With Canada as a focus country for next edition, it is anticipated that overall Canadian participation will continue to grow. At the last show professional visitors from Canada grew by 40 per cent over previous editions.
Hospitality and more
Host Milano offers a broad perspective on the baking industry with specific appeal to bakery food service operations. The show divides itself into three primary areas: foodservice equipment; coffee/tea; and furniture. Within the foodservice area there is space dedicated specifically to bread, pizza and pasta offering displays of innovation in food equipment, food products (ingredients, semi-prepared items) and food preparation.
The coffee/tea area includes machines and ingredients along with space focused on accessories and equipment specifically targetting gelato and pastry.
The furniture area includes the latest in design ideas for all aspects of retail hospitality, interior design, including furnishing accessories for indoor and outdoor spaces, lighting and much more.
Boasting a balanced mix of leading players and smaller independent producers, Host Milano offers a complete overview of industry trends. The show goes beyond representing a display area of products and services by presenting itself as a prime observatory on the market. For exhibitors, the event provides a platform where supply and demand meet. The show itself hosts a collection of 1,500 select buyers from all over the world, and the overall attendance in 2015 was close to 151,000 trade professionals from 172 countries.
Home of grain products
Like many other food products, pizza and pasta have reached well beyond Italy’s borders to conquer the world. For these products Italy remains a world leader in the supply of specialized ingredients and mixes as well as machines (kneading machines, ovens and refrigerators) and accessories.
According to the show organizers, pizza is more popular and beloved than ever in its two different versions: the classic version that is the result of the craftsmanship perfected by the Naples “pizzaiuoli”, which Italy has proposed to be recognized by UNESCO as a product of Intangible Cultural Heritage; and the more creative version, the gourmet pizza, which relies on high-level restaurant techniques and ingredients and can be lighter and healthier.
Pizza is also evolving with gluten-free versions and others based on legume or alternate vegetable flours. This new wave in pizza is having an impact on the 25,000 pizzerias in Italy, with annual turnover of 5.3 billion euros, and which serve more than 900 million pizzas per year.
And then there’s pasta. According to AIDEPI, the industry association of Italian pasta and bakery producers, in 2014 the country produced 3,458,000 tonnes of pasta, for a total value of 4.634 billion euros. Exports account for 57 per cent of the pasta produced, equal to 45 per cent of the overall sales. In fact, one out of every four bowls of pasta eaten around the world comes from Italian pasta makers. In Italy, per capita consumption is 25 kilos per year, the highest level in the world.
Pasta is also changing and diversifying. Whole wheat and other alternatives to the classic durum wheat version are on the rise. The trends highlighted by Host Milan point to stuffed and fresh pastas, made of exotic grains (quinoa, teff and amaranth) or ancient grains revived from local traditions.
Finally, bread is diversifying too and is being offered in many different formats. Among the latest trends are the open-view bakeries in supermarkets that allow customers to watch products being made. In restaurants, consumers are re-discovering bread as a side to food.
Market analyst Nielsen points out that there’s been a slight decline in artisanal bread, but confirms that the market share is still high at 87.9 per cent in Italy, among the highest in the world. Bread is playing a growing role in restaurants and boutique bakeries, while gourmet pizzas and pastas are increasingly prepared and eaten in shopping centres and supermarkets.
In Italy, like in the rest of the world, there’s a growing focus on quality and types of bread. No more bread as ‘filler’ and more bread where we don’t expect it. Bread that is higher in nutrition, with algae or covered in healthy seeds, which becomes the perfect base for many street foods or for a classic sandwich that has been updated with new, quality ingredients as part of a gourmet evolution, similar to what pizza has gone through.
Above all, the trend spreading from bakeries to restaurants is a return to the old way of doing things, such as long leavening times with starters, which is now mandatory for those who think of bread as being part of their lifestyle and food philosophy.
Companies have picked up on this trend, and they are studying ways to come up with systems for creating a natural, genuine product that is also compatible with modern technology.
Trends in view
Whether your interest lies in baked goods or coffee service, restaurants or bars, furnishings or equipment, Host Milano offers the a viewpoint to discover new trends in food, hospitality, decor and retail.
While the event occurs every two years, the evolving trends in bread making specifically are attracting a lot of attention right now, and in 2017 the fairgrounds in Milan will serve as a prime observatory to view where the industry will turn next from a European perspective.
For more information on the details of the Host Milano exhibition visit www.host.fieramilano.it
Thank you to Fiera Milano for background information and content contributions.