International -

High-tech for the future

Digitization, automation and process optimization, responding to market and consumer trends, sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging solutions – the IFFA 2019 focused primarily on these issues and provided many answers or forward-looking approaches.

Throughout the six-day event, the leading international meat industry trade fair showed how the sector is preparing for the future. From the Smart Meat Factory, packaging trends and food safety to clean labeling and the increasing demand for meat quality, exhibitors provided answers to the demands of the meat processing industry and the butcher’s trade. In addition, the fair also demonstrated that the branch is doing well and that investments continue to be made, not only because worldwide production of meat is predicted to grow by five percent annually until 2027.

Around 67,000 visitors from 149 countries (= +7 percent compared to 2016) gathered information from 1,039 exhibitors from 49 countries (2016: 1,036 from 51 countries) about new products and trends. The degree of internationality of 70 percent speaks for the worldwide significance of IFFA as the undisputed leader for the meat industry.

“IFFA has once again shown that it is not only one of our most traditional trade fairs, but is above all the global meeting place of the industry par excellence. Seven out of ten visitors came from abroad. The atmosphere in the halls, at the stands and in the corridors was fantastic,” sums up Wolfgang Marzin, Chairman of the Board of Management of Messe Frankfurt. “At the same time, IFFA is a family reunion for the meat industry; many companies have been in family hands for generations. Every three years they meet here to shape the future: the meat industry, machine builders, packers, spice suppliers, the trade and butchers.”

This view was also confirmed by the results of the independent visitor survey conducted by Messe Frankfurt: 96 percent of trade visitors rated IFFA positively. Exhibitors also received an excellent response with a total of 92 percent overall satisfaction.

Industry is innovative

The driving topic of the Smart Meat Factory is digitization, which of course places it at the center of attention. Automation and software solutions make production and processes in meat plants more intelligent.

Food safety also continues to be a focus. The aim is to replace manual activities with automated processes. Manufacturers demonstrated fully automatic portioning and insertion of steaks and cold cuts into packages aided by inserts or industrial robots, for example. In addition, the packaging sector dealt with smart solutions to protect the valuable foodstuff meat.

In this context, very important issues include resource conservation and sustainability – from energy efficiency in machines and process chains to climate-neutral packaging. Overall, the prospects for the suppliers of the meat industry are positive. Global meat production is expected to grow by five percent annually until 2027. 85 percent of the professional visitors assess the economic situation as promising and rate the current ­situation in the industry as good to satisfactory.

Quality and origin score

The importance of meat in society remains very high. The traditional butcher’s trade scores with consumers for quality and regionality. New professions such as meat sommelier training are accompanying the trend. Innovative sales concepts such as online shops, smart catering ideas or customer communication via social media are making the branch fit for the future.

The quality competitions of the German Butchers’ Association showed craftsmanship at its highest level. Young butchers were able to prove themselves at the international performance competition, in which the best young butchers from six countries competed.

One challenge unites both machine manufacturers and the butcher’s trade: a shortage of skilled workers and problems recruiting young talents. Companies need to invest more in digitization, automation and robotics. This reduces the workload on employees and simplifies all meat processing stages. Solutions for all company sizes and types were on display at IFFA. This was confirmed by 95 percent of the visitors, who were very satisfied with the range of products and services exhibited.

The first IFFA was held 70 years ago as an accompanying exhibition to the Association Day of the US Butchers’ Association in Frankfurt. From a small specialist butcher’s exhibition, it has grown into the world’s leading trade fair for the international meat industry. In 2019, the top ten visitor nations after Germany were the Russian Federation, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland, China, Ukraine, the USA, Austria and Australia. Particularly strong growth was recorded in Latin America (31 percent) and Eastern Europe (15 percent).

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