Visiting INTERNORGA, the big annual German show held each March in Hamburg, one doesn’t sense there is a recession in the foodservice market in Germany. The show attracted more than 100,000 visitors and a record number of exhibitors from all over the world.

We started the show by attending the International Foodservice Forum, a day-long conference attended by more than 1,600. In an opening overview, Gretel Weiss, editor at food service and FoodService Europe & Middle East covered the dynamics of the German foodservice and lodging markets. While Germany’s foodservice saw sales fall 3.1% in current Euros and nearly 5% in real terms in 2009, according to data from Statistische Bundesamt, the market held up better than most in Europe and North America. Traffic was off only 0.4% through the third quarter of ’09, according to The NPD Group, the least of any major country in Europe.

And multiunit operator growth continued to outperform the general market, Weiss said at the March meeting. Sales of the Top 100 multiunit organizations, as charted by food service magazine, rose 1.1% last year. Still, this growth rate was a dramatic slowdown from growth during the preceding five years—sales for the Top 100 soared 7.6% in ’06 and were still up 4.2% in ’08.

After the meeting, we used the occasion to search out new and unusual equipment and supplies products on the show floor, some of which are featured below.

INTERNORGA will be held again next year at the Hamburg Messe from March 11-16, 2011.


Hans-Werner Schmidt, who runs Manitowoc Foodservice Group’s operations in Germany, showed us the completely redesigned Merrychef fast-oven line, just introduced this spring. The Eikon e3, e4 and e5 products (each is a bit larger than the preceding one) all employ the company’s new easyToUCH touch-screen control system, which brings true smart-kitchen capabilities to the ovens. Merrychef shares the control with Manitowoc’s Convotherm/Cleveland Range combi-ovens, which means menu programs can be integrated between the two appliances. Other new features include an easily removed front panel that allows simple access to the air filter, the ability to incorporate a wireless router for Internet menu downloads and a USB port for downloading program changes using Manitowoc’s MenuConnect software.
Merrychef/Manitowoc Foodservice Group


Electrolux introduced its new Touchline Air-O-Steam combi-oven at INTERNORGA. The new touch-screen controls are designed to let an operator input a recipe or control parameters with just three touches of the screen. The control has capacity for 1,000 recipe programs, which can be loaded using USB sticks, and is capable of being programmed in 32 languages, including Arabic and Japanese. Another new feature of the appliance is a two-minute safety cleaning rinse, which can be halted at any time during the cycle.
Electrolux Professional


Meiko unveiled its next generation flight-type warewasher, the M-iQ, last October. This is the first we’d seen it. (It won’t be available in the United States until next year). The new unit incorporates a number of innovations. A self-contained airflow system uses cold intake water to cool the hot, moist air, allowing exhaust air to be vented directly into the kitchen. New state-of-the-art controls include Bluetooth and optional GSM/GPRS interfaces. The modular units are available in three heights and four widths, can be outfitted for racks as well as belts and have an advanced self-cleaning system.

Franke Coffee Systems introduced a new small super-automated espresso machine in Hamburg. Called the Pura, it employs a simple touch-screen control that can be programmed with up to 32 different drinks and can produce up to 120 cups per hour. The unit employs modular coffee and powdered milk or chocolate dispensers that simplify loading, and has a Clean+Clever automated cleaning system. The coffee grinder uses ceramic blades which makes for much quieter operation and goes 100,000 cups without sharpening. It can also be specified with an attachable fresh-milk cooler/dispenser.
Franke Coffee Systems


The Germans like their smoked meats and sausages. We saw a number of different smoker appliances, from countertop to roll-in, at the show. Philipp Eisch, whose family helps run LEFA in OT Hässlich near Dresden in the former East Germany, showed us the company’s new combi-oven smoker. The unit uses all the usual technologies of combis, but in addition employs a patented liquid-smoke injection system that provides the opportunity for added flavor profiles. The company also makes a complete line of industrial-sized roll-in-rack smoker-ovens.
LEFA Fleischereiausstattungen GmbH

Always on the lookout for the unusual, we spotted this very atypical gas patio heater at the booth of distributor Kübler-Consult. The Falò Profi patio heater, from an Italian manufacturer, shoots a vertical gas flame, lit by a 12kW infrared electronic igniter, that projects a much broader heat pattern than typical top-burner heaters. It is designed for use with 12kg natural gas or LPG canisters, and is available in two heights. (We couldn’t find a website for Falò in Italy. The Web sites below are those for their German and Australian distributors.)

Big news at the Schönwald press conference was the new Grace permanent-ware line.. The plates and serving pieces have wavy edges, though they nest together beautifully. Some cups and serving pieces were inspired by flower blossoms. Though the base line is white, items can also be delicately decorated. The line is available through Oneida in the United States.

Hobart has been introducing new products through its entire warewashing line in Europe. The newest items on the stand at INTERNORGA were glasswashers in the premium Premax GCP and Profi GC lines. Both new units use only 1.9 liters of water per rinse cycle; employ the Accurinse system saves up to 35% in water, detergent and energy; and have patented washer arms and the Genius-X2 fine-filter system. The Premax unit also has a patented Vapostop door system that prevents steam from spilling out when the door is opened.

The folks at Beer Grill confirm what seems to be a trend in European display equipment. They confirm that the curved-glass Euro-Shop look is beginning to wane, and operators are starting to prefer a squared-off, “clean” look. We saw this trend in a number of products including a fish display case at one booth and a beautiful, polished-stainless wine display unit in another. Both, by the way, used LED lights. But there’s no denying the elegant display units at Beer.
Beer Grill


We stopped in to see what was new at WMF and couldn’t help photographing these amazing buffet units, called Buffetkegels. Kegel is cone in German. The cones, available in three sizes, can incorporate a variety of spoons, inserts and rings for glasses, as well as skewered items. WMF was also showing a new line of glass-topped square and round chafing dishes, called Vitalis Pro. (You can just see them in the background.)

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