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The biggest headache for organisers of ProWein is meeting the demand for exhibitor space. When you’re the world’s largest trade fair for wines and spirits life can certainly have its challenges.

For many New Zealand wine exporters the annual ProWein international trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, is well and truly fixed on the calendar. Securing space in one of the many cavernous exhibition halls at Messe Düsseldorf can be difficult, and the advice from the organisers is to book well in advance.

If you think there are a lot of wine brands in the world – you’d be correct. At ProWein 2016 there were 6,257 exhibitors in attendance, of which 5,276 (84 percent) were from outside Germany, representing 59 countries. Those figures prove just how much of an international marketplace ProWein has become.

2016 was also the biggest year to date for New Zealand participation, with 37 companies exhibiting (31 of which were hosted within the group pavilion organised by NZ Winegrowers). 

There were many other New Zealand wine brands represented at the show through stands organised by their European distributors, parent companies, or by some other means.

More importantly, interest in New Zealand wine was high – running at 17 percent, and, understandably, second only to the major European wine-growing countries. That figure is even more remarkable for the fact that New Zealand is such a relatively small wine producer – producing less than one percent of global output.

Of the 55,729 visitors who attended the three-day event, 94 percent were trade visitors looking to do business, and 91 percent were from Europe. The clear message for Kiwi wine exporters is that ProWein is very much the venue for securing sales and partners in the European market, including Great Britain. It’s a well-established, highly-regarded event that’s popular with winemakers all over the world.

Chris Stroud, New Zealand Winegrowers manager for UK and Europe estimates there were around 90 New Zealand wineries in total represented at ProWein 2016. “Many wineries said they had good quality leads to follow up. It was exciting to see trade partnerships formed, wine being sold and markets discovered.

“We also hosted a number of seminars on our stand to showcase the diversity of New Zealand wines. We showed 38 wines in eight seminars over the three days and all were full to capacity with 240 attendees,” he says.

The ProWein family

As ProWein director Marius Berlemann points out, ProWein is not a German-driven show. But as anyone who gone to the show will agree, being German-organised it runs like a well-engineered machine. The organisers, Messe Düsseldorf, have also taken the same brand and calibre of show to other markets, utilising its worldwide network of representatives to create a family of ProWein (ProWine) events. 

The fourth edition of ProWine China is being held in Shanghai in November this year – an annual show that has quickly grown in line with the maturing of tastes by Chinese wine consumers. Held alongside Food & Hotel China (FHC), the fair specifically targets mainland China and stands out as a quality event in that country’s somewhat crowded fair industry.

The first ProWine Asia, again held in conjunction with the established Food & Hotel Asia, was staged in Singapore last April, and attracts visitors from all over Southeast Asia. ProWine Asia will be alternated annually with Hong Kong, where it is run alongside HOFEX. 

Wine producers around the world understand the high standard of shows the Germans consistently turn out under the ProWein (ProWine) banner, so not surprisingly exhibitors and visitors come in large numbers. 

But despite the size and growth of ProWein, in particular China, Berlemann says it’s important that first-time attendees keep their expectations in check. As with the Düsseldorf trade fair, partnerships and relationships can take time to develop – generally 18 to 20 months.

Looking ahead to 2017

With all the success of the 2016 Dusseldorf event still top of mind, Exporter asked Chris Stroud if NZ Winegrowers will be participating again at ProWein 2017.

“We will certainly be exhibiting again as we believe it is the most important trade fair in Europe,” he replied. “We are trying to get more space so we can manage the increasing demand from wineries who wish to exhibit as well as current wineries who need more space.  

“The stand is a real hub and works very well, but we need to increase the meeting space on our stand to allow everyone the opportunity to meet,” says Stroud. “We would also like to make the seminar area a bit more enclosed so it doesn’t impact on other exhibitors.”

Stroud says there is always ‘a real buzz’ around the New Zealand stand, and they’re keen to maximise this effect.

ProWein 2017 takes place from March 19th to 21st and again space will be extremely tight.

Stroud likes the fact that ProWein brings customers from all over the world, not just Europe.

“And it offers wineries the opportunity to meet with all their distributors in one place, as well as find distributors in new markets,” he says. 

“It is a place where business is conducted and deals are done. I would certainly recommend it for any wineries who are currently exporting to Europe and other markets, as well as wineries looking to enter the market. The sheer size and number of visitors and exhibitors it attracts means that it is the place to be. 

“The New Zealand Winegrowers stand is a destination and we have visitors actively coming to seek out New Zealand wines.”  

For more information about visiting or exhibiting at Messe Düsseldorf trade fairs contact the New Zealand representative, Robert Laing, at Messe Reps. & Travel.
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