Foodservice Equipment Reports

Heard In The Aisles At Internorga: European Market Is Recovering, Too, Though Not Everywhere

The European foodservice market is also beginning to recover, including capital spending for equipment and supplies, according to manufacturers and others we spoke with at Internorga last week. The big foodservice trade show held annually in Hamburg, Germany, was staged March 18-23 this year.

The aisles indeed were crowded. The Hamburg Messe (convention center and trade fair authority) reported attendance of more than 100,000 late last week. And the show hosted a record 1,144 exhibitors from 27 countries. Internorga includes food and beverage exhibitors as well as companies displaying equipment, supplies, tabletop, furnishings and foodservice and hotel electronic products and services.

Executives from several leading European companies told us their 2010 sales in the region were positive. Luciano Berti, head of Ali Group, the largest foodservice equipment conglomerate in the world, told us the group’s worldwide sales rose 9% last year and were positive in Europe. The company owns scores of brands throughout Europe including the U.K. But Berti also pointed out there are different trends in different countries, with Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece all still feeling the negative effects of high levels of unemployment and public debt. “The European countries in the south are still in recession,” he said.

We also spoke with Alberto Zanata, who formerly ran Electrolux Professional in North America, but since last year has headed the giant company’s foodservice equipment operations worldwide, headquartered in Pordenone, Italy. He echoed Berti’s breakdowns on stronger and weaker markets in Europe. “Germany and the Scandinavian markets have rebounded strongly,” he said, adding that these markets also held up best during the recent recession. “Eastern Europe and Russia are also growing, but Italy, Greece, Spain, they are still very soft.” Both executives said the U.K. market is flat, at best.

Gretel Weiss, editor-in chief at Frankfurt, Germany-based food service and Foodservice Europe and the Middle East, said most of the central European foodservice markets are doing quite well, though added there is still some caution among consumers, what with rising fuel prices and events in Japan and North Africa. “All the terrible news has an effect. All of us could use some calm, ja?” she said.

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