The sector is set to meet at IFFA in Frankfurt am Main from 14 to 19 May. Around 900 companies from more than 40 countries will be showing their latest products and solutions for processing, packaging and selling meat and alternative sources of protein.
The exhibitors are looking forward to personal encounters with their customers and to present the complete spectrum of their innovations from the last three years.
The expectations of the global meat and protein industry on their leading international trade fair – IFFA, Technology for Meat and Alternative Proteins – are high. From 14 to 19 May, the who’s who of the sector will meet in Frankfurt am Main to present the latest innovations, gather information and network. Around 900 exhibitors from over 40 countries have registered to show their developments from the last three years, including technology for processing and packaging meat and alternative protein products, ingredients and additives for modern foodstuffs, as well as new sales products. Everything and everyone of note will be at the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre an area spread over some 116,000 square metres of exhibition space (gross) in Halls 8, 9, 11 and 12. The traditionally high level of internationality of IFFA is also guaranteed this year, with over 60% of registered companies coming from outside Germany, especially Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Poland.
Preliminary data indicates that the production of food and packaging machinery in Germany increased in 2021 and sector sales almost reached the pre-crisis level of 2019. This positive background will also impact on the coming IFFA with the exhibitors looking forward to personal encounters with their national and international customers.
For the first time in its history of over 70 years, IFFA has expanded its product nomenclature and now includes technologies and solutions for vegetable-based meat substitutes and alternative proteins. At least 200 IFFA exhibitors offer products for the production of meat alternatives. They are spread across the whole fair and can be found via the IFFA Contactor, the fair’s exhibitor and product search engine. Additionally, the complementary programme of events will provide further information about this future-oriented subject. New IFFA partners, such as the German Association for Alternative Sources of Protein (BALPro), the Good Food Institute Europe and the ProVeg nutritional organisation, will also be contributing their expertise and their networks.
The IFFA programme of events will give participants the opportunity to see and experience innovations, to take part in lectures and discussions and to gain inspiration for new products and solutions. Throughout the fair, the IFFA Forum will be the setting for expert talks and product presentations. Every day, the spotlight will be on a different top theme, i.e., automation, digitalisation, food safety, sustainability, food trends and individualisation in artisanal businesses. New and also live daily, vegan and meat-based bratwurst will be produced on the genuine production line of the IFFA Factory while experts explain the production methods and provide information about recipes, ingredients and processes. Also new are the guided tours to selected exhibitors. Each of these Discovery Tours will focus on a specific theme. The choice ranges from packaging trends and process innovations to meat substitutes, ingredients and ‘Trends in the Butchers’ Trade.
The VDMA is joining forces with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging to present future-oriented themes and solutions on its exhibition stand. Visitors will be able to see a virtual cleaning assistant for safe and efficient manual cleaning with the aid of augmented reality technology. The second main theme revolves around alternative proteins and focuses on processes for the fully automatic production of insect protein and plant-based protein. The complete IFFA event programme can be found online.
For the first time, IFFA will be held with a digital extension and thus open up new dimensions for visitors to make their trade-fair experience even more individual or to participate when it is impossible to travel to Frankfurt. The new digital platform includes a variety of exciting options before, during and after the fair. For example, visitors can make contact with potential business partners and arrange mutually convenient appointments in advance via the matchmaking system. Detailed product information and corporate profiles of the exhibitors in word, photos and video offer a good impression of the product ranges while chat functions and video calls mean making direct contact is easy.
The processing of meat and meat substitutes places high demands on automation. This is primarily due to the product itself: It is natural, sensitive and varies in size and shape. But Especially against the background of the lack of personnel in the industry and the higher demands on hygiene and quality, the use of automated processes and state-of-the-art robotic solutions promises advantages. Processes can thus be optimised, yields increased and harmful influences considerably reduced. The butcher’s trade also sees an increased need for automation technology in the future due to the acute shortage of skilled workers.
Digital solutions play a central role in quality management and food traceability today. By collecting and intelligently linking all data, production can be monitored in real time and possible malfunctions can be detected immediately. The next step into the future is the Data-Driven Factory: the flow of data in both directions between production and the point of sale enables completely new forms of marketing. At the end of this development are additional sales opportunities based, for example, on exact designation of origin, seasonally tailored batches, or even completely individualised products.
Food safety is a top priority. The coronavirus pandemic has brought the topic even more into the public awareness. Machine and plant manufacturers are continuously working on new solutions to improve the hygienic design of their plants. Digital monitoring procedures help to ensure safety throughout the entire production process. In the area of packaging, the challenge is to guarantee uncompromising hygiene even with lower material usage and increased recyclability.
The European Green Deal, with the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050, places high demands on the meat industry in terms of sustainability. How can energy and resource efficiency be increased? On the one hand, machine manufacturers are presenting ever more efficient technologies here, for example for energy-intensive cooling. On the other hand, the reduction of packaging waste and the use of recyclable or biodegradable materials play an important role. Against the backdrop of climate change, ideas are needed to reduce food waste by throwing it away. And eating habits as a whole are also changing: the demand for alternative proteins obtained from plants, insects or cultured meat is increasing worldwide.
In many important markets, the trend is towards lower and more conscious consumption of meat and fish. Nevertheless, flexitarians do not want to give up familiar dietary patterns. This has an impact on the product spectrum, which is becoming more and more diverse. Industry and butcher’s trade have adapted to this and are developing ever more perfect plant-based alternatives. The Corona pandemic also had an influence on consumer behaviour: here, the butcher's trade in particular was able to score with high-quality, regional products in shop sales.
The butcher's trade, which traditionally stands for high quality, distinguishes itself from mass-produced goods with individual and unique products. The focus is on regional origin, the use of special animal breeds and individual recipes. Convenience products are still in demand. Here, too, the demand for extremely good, healthy and high-quality food is growing. Innovative butchers are also going new ways in distribution to reach their customers, for example with a food truck or via alternative distribution channels such as vending machines or online shops.