Bigger and better: HostMilano returns

With thousands of exhibitors from 50 countries, this year’s HostMilano is back better than ever as it takes over the entire Fiera Milano venue. Simona Greco, global exhibitions director at Fiera Milano gives us a glimpse of what to expect

After a slightly subdued 2021 edition, HostMilano returns to deliver its verdict on the current state of the hospitality and foodservice industries. Over 1,800 exhibitors from 50 countries, including Germany, Spain, France, the US, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, Turkey and China, have registered to showcase their latest products and services.

In a shift from two years ago, HostMilano will occupy the entire Fiera Milano venue, which it shared with Food & Beverage in 2021. Organizers anticipate a return to pre-pandemic levels of attendance, a testimony, they say, to the importance exhibitors continue to place on meeting with their trade contacts and stakeholders in person.

More than simply a networking event, however, HostMilano is designed to present a holistic view of the world of foodservice and hospitality. Across its thousands of stands, attendees will have the opportunity to explore every conceivable material and technological solution needed to build a successful hospitality business, from raw materials to machinery to equipment to tableware. Meanwhile, presentations and seminars delivered by leading industry players will outline trends and challenges affecting hospitality business owners today, and advise operators how to combat them.

“This year, we will see a lot of breakthrough technologies, from AI-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,” says Simona Greco, global exhibitions director at Fiera Milano.

Sustainability, design and digital innovation

After 42 events, HostMilano organizers have figured out what works. The fair will be divided into three ‘macro areas’ where there is supply chain crossover: foodservice equipment, bakery, pizza and pasta; coffee, tea & gelato; and furniture, technology and tableware.

“The exhibition concept has been consolidated, combining a comprehensive overview of professional hospitality as a whole with vertical insights into individual sectors,” Greco explains. “Traditionally, foodservice equipment is the strongest sector, making up almost 50% of all companies registered, but, in recent years, we’ve witnessed a strong growth in design- and technology-related sectors too.”

As well as product stands, HostMilano offers a program of over 800 events, from seminars to techno-cooking performances to competitions between some of the world’s greatest chefs, coffee professionals and masters of ice cream, coffee and pastry.

This year, sustainability, design and digital innovation will be the most prominent themes across the event program. Many exhibitors will be excited to see the outcome of the SMART Label Awards, which recognize products, services and projects that stand out in terms of functionality, technology, environmental sustainability, or ethical or social implications. Meanwhile architects and hospitality experts might want to head to one of the many Design Talks scheduled across the fiveday event, covering topics ranging from wellness and wellbeing, technology and the user experience to sensoriality and hospitality design.

The FIPE ‘laboratory’ will explore the digital transition, looking at the potential of connected equipment, and digital payments systems, apps and menus to increase businesses’ efficiency and competitiveness, while a five-day program developed by the Professional Italian Chefs Association will focus on chefs’ role in shaping mindful eating habits.

Optimizing the attendee experience

It’s the networking opportunities that many exhibitors and attendees make the journey to Milan for. And, post-Covid, the HostMilano organizers have learned a thing or two about how to help them build lasting – and lucrative – connections.

“In addition to thousands of professional operators from all over the world, Italian and international exhibitors will meet buyers selected and profiled by Fiera Milano from 63 countries,” says Greco. “Our selection effort was made even more effective this year thanks to our ongoing collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), which supports the business development of Italian companies abroad and promotes foreign investment into Italy.”

International buyers, who will come mainly from Canada, the US, Central and South America, the Gulf countries and Asia, will be able to get their networking timetable locked in thanks to HostMilan’s proprietary business matching app. “We have certainly learned from the 2021 edition about the increasing importance of digital tools,” Greco notes. “This will be the most valuable tool to navigate the exhibition, have a satisfactory visit experience and make meaningful contacts.” The app is supported by Expo Plaza, an advanced media platform for HostMilano organizers, exhibitors and buyers, which allows them to keep in touch all year round.

For Greco, this 43rd edition of HostMilano is the culmination of decades of work, building the exhibition’s reputation and working on optimizing the attendee experience: she believes it’s a sustainable event, in the broadest sense of the word. “Environmental and social sustainability are important to us but our event is also intrinsically sustainable,” she says. “We have designed a project that stands on its own two feet and generates added value for all its stakeholders: from Fiera Milano shareholders to companies and operators in the reference sectors, and even the city itself.”

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