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An event so big it can only take place every two years, for many foodservice professionals around the world HostMilano remains an unmissable show

HostMilano is, according to Simona Greco, Fiera Milano exhibitions director, “the world’s largest B2B-only exhibition in the hospitality industry. And is unanimously recognised as the most authoritative one,” she adds. The show, she says, is “a world leader in many segments of foodservice equipment, furniture, tableware and so on, but it has rapidly also become a reference for international manufacturers who choose HostMilano to present their newest, most innovative products.”

According to Greco, HostMilano is a global focal point, not only for technology and innovation, but also for “concepts, formats and layouts”. It has become, she says, “a trendsetter for lifestyle and consumer trends as well, thanks to a growing focus on retail along with the ‘away-from home’ sector.

The show has been “growing steadily over the last two decades, edition after edition,” says Greco. And that’s in terms of both exhibitors and professional visitors. “We have nearly 2,300 companies registered to date [for the 2019 show], approximately 40% of which are international, coming from some 56 countries.” And this is more than a month before the show opens on 18 October 2019 across the majority of the 20 huge pavilions of Fiera Milano. “The layout will take up virtually the whole Fiera Milano exhibition centre, which is one of the largest in Europe,” she says.

In closer detail, the ‘foodservice and bakery’, ‘pizza and pasta’-dedicated “macro-areas” of the show will take over seven halls (Halls 1-7), while also sharing Hall 6 with ‘pastry’, which will, in turn, also occupy Hall 10. “This is in line with our philosophy of creating new business opportunities by leveraging the affinities  between contiguous sectors,” says Greco.

“The macro-areas devoted to ‘bar, coffee machines and vending’, together with ‘coffee and tea’ will take over four halls: Halls 14 and 18 and 22 and 24. ‘Furniture, tableware and technology’ will take Halls 9 and 11,” she says.

And walking those show floors, teeming with a resplendent display of gleaming new products from exhibitors, will be an extraordinary amount of visitors. “We expect to consolidate the brilliant [attendee] results of 2017, when we welcomed 187,602 professional visitors – a 24.3% increase compared to 2015 – of which 38.8% will be arriving from 177 different countries – that’s 72,699 of overseas visitors in total, a 20.4% increase compared to 2015,” says Greco.

What’s new?

So, why do global visitors continue to come to the show in such high numbers? For both the winning format and the lure of new trends and products being unveiled. “HostMilano was a pioneer in developing the macro-area concept, combining a complete overview on the hospitality industry with vertical insights into the individual sectors,” says Greco.

“This concept proved so successful over the years that it hasn’t needed to be revolutionised ever since. However, we keep developing and perfecting it at every edition, especially in terms of events. In fact, this allows us to strengthen HostMilano’s position as a trendsetter and a preview of future solutions, besides its consolidated position as the  marketplace where companies present their new products in advance.”

This year, HostMilano will again present its globally-renowned ‘Smart Label’ Host Innovation Award, complemented in this instance by a programme of seven ‘Design talks’ – seminars focussing on areas including ‘innovative solutions’, ‘big data analysis’, ‘new urban scenarios’, ‘the luxury world’ and ‘the consumer experience’. “We’ll also have a preview on public bars in the future with the ‘FUTURbar’ area and, last but not least, ‘Food And hospitality in the future’, the programme of events with industry specialists organised by FCSI, says Greco.

FCSI at the forefront

For Greco, FCSI members are a vital influence on the themes and trends explored at the show, but they will also stand to gain significantly from attending in person too. “As foodservice consultants are increasingly required to adopt an ever-broader vision, in order to support their clients in devising both the overall project and implementing its many aspects, HostMilano is a unique opportunity for them.

“It allows them, in one place, to delve into previews on cutting-edge innovation, new technologies and digitalisation, combined with the latest trends in design, innovative materials, and concepts addressing the increasingly changing needs of business clients and end-customers,” she says.

“We’re living in very interesting but challenging times, where the growing need for sustainability demands that we think outside of the box. This is what makes HostMilano really different – because nowhere like here can a professional in the hospitality industry ‘think out of the box’ with the future in mind.”

For Remko van der Graaff FCSI, chair of FCSI Europe, Africa, Middle East (EAME) Division, the importance of the show can’t be understated. “HostMilano is the most important exhibition, not only for the EAME region but also for the FCSI The Americas and Asia Pacific Divisions.  Almost all brands are represented – this is the heaven for people in our market.”

According to Elonique Dalhuisenexecutive director of FCSI EAME, HostMilano is “always a very exciting event with a lot of different people, cultures and innovation. The FCSI booth is the meeting place for all our members across the world. I’m really looking forward to meet people in person. FCSI is the linchpin between many different groups, so during Host we will connect people and share knowledge. We have the most fantastic speakers programme ever, with very good speakers. The programme will take place at our booth with a totally new design. After commencing our FCSI EAME Student Awards at our 2018 Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands, we are happy to announce that we have a Student Challenge in Milan too.”

For van der Graaff the real value of HostMilano is connecting “with the newest innovations, new product lines and to talk business on a global level,” he says. “We will have consultants from all over the world joining us, interesting speakers in the seminar area, breakfast, lunch, fresh ice cream, a daily happy hour, and a meeting and lounge-area. And last but not least, we will have congenial guests from the FCSI family with a lot of knowledge in hospitality.

“This year even more members from all over the world will join us during HostMilano,” he says. “It is great that FCSI France and FCSI Nordics have both planned their Annual General Meetings during the trade show. FCSI France is also organising drinks on the afternoon of Saturday 20 October at the FCSI EAME booth for all members to celebrate their 20th anniversary. On Sunday evening we have our Sponsor Recognition Party for all our sponsors and consultant members. As in 2017 this also will be a really fun evening, with good people, great food and a fantastic DJ.” FCSI’s activities are only made possible through the support of various sponsors, says Dalhuisen. “We are very happy we are supported by our sponsors again, but we also really appreciate the support of FCSI Italy members who compiled the speaker programme and, especially, Roberto Assi FCSI who is responsible for building our booth and arranging the equipment.”

Live and direct

Between 11am-12pm on Sunday 20 October the FCSI booth will host the live judging of the final three products shortlisted in FCSI’s 2019 Start Me Up Innovation Awards, sponsored by Electrolux Professional. In a Shark Tank/Dragon’s Den-style format the three start-ups will give a final ‘pitch’ to judges. The winner will be unveiled at FCSI’s Sponsor Recognition Party at ‘& Restaurant’ in Fiera Milano at 6pm that evening.

Foodservice Consultant will also chair a series of insightful panel sessions at the FCSI booth, covering topics as diverse as ‘Staying safe in the kitchen’ (sponsored by Ansul), ‘The connected kitchen (sponsored by Irinox) and ‘Ventless cooking: dispelling the myth’ (sponsored by Middleby Ventless Cooking Solutions). Away from the booth, the team will be chairing a ‘Titans of Industry’ roundtable, sponsored by Kason, featuring c-level executives from some of the world’s largest foodservice equipment manufacturers (including Ali Group, ITW, Middleby, Halton, Irinox, Meiko and RATIONAL). A write-up of the event will appear in the Q1 2020 edition.

When in Milan

Aside from the enduring, global appeal of the show and a packed schedule at the FCSI booth, Milan itself remains a show-stopping

location to visit. “Milan has become one of the world’s coolest cities in recent years, especially when it comes to the ‘away-from-home’ scene,” says Greco. “Not only does it sport dozens of Michelin-starred restaurants, but it’s also home to some of the most interesting new concepts and designs.

“Our professional visitors often tell us that visiting the city is an integral part of their exhibition experience. There are

impressive urban renovation projects in progress and new locations pop up day-in and day-out, with an increasing focus on sustainability. A new, forward looking attitude, one which combines the traditional Italian taste for conviviality with a look to the future, is growing. It’s a very exciting place to be now,” she says.

Michael Jones