I’m writing from Berlin, Germany, at Fruit Logistica, an international produce industry show held every February. I first heard of this gigantic show from my longtime produce friend, Marc DeNaeyer, who convinced me that I needed to go.
My first Fruit Logistica was in 2006 – and it was a very cold and snowy Berlin that year. I spent two days walking the most enormous food show I had ever encountered. Fruit Logistica was held in six, two-story buildings! (I was familiar with U.S. shows held in one exhibit hall!) As I walked the show, I saw beautiful produce from Holland, where the greenhouse-grown vegetables are displayed like artwork and sculptures. I saw Korean Asian Pears the size of large grapefruits. At the Israeli pavilion, I saw peppers, tomatoes, mangoes and citrus varieties that we never see on the West Coast (some Israeli products are shipped and sold on the East Coast when the freight costs are affordable).
I got to see so many packaging innovations that are commonplace in Europe, where produce is trucked from country to country, because of the close proximity. Peeled and pre-cooked potatoes with multi-month shelf-life. Multi-ingredient luncheon salads in clever plastic tubs wrapped in breathable plastic.
At the end of the show, I remember having gathered at least 30 pounds worth of brochures, leaflets and magazines. There was so much colorful information that I had to carry back to share with our buying and marketing departments.
My second trip to Fruit Logistica was in in 2008 – where the weather was completely different. No coats needed as the temperature was in the 50s. The show had increased in size and as I walked the show floor, I chuckled as I saw a few of my American produce friends. A few more American produce companies were displaying. I recognized many of my USA retailer clients now walking the show to see those same innovations that took my breath away two years earlier.
And, of course, I got to explore the City of Berlin while I was there, including the most amazing department store I’ve ever seen: KaDeWe (KDW). The first five floors are filled with clothing and merchandise and the top two floors feature a multitude of food courts which rival Harrod’s in London. Of course, the best part of this shopping experience was sitting down at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar to taste the latest vintage!
Two years ago, several of my produce friends (actually 4 guys from Los Angeles and Chicago) and I explored an amazing food palace called Rogacki. If you are ever in Berlin, check it out! This food place is the size of a large market with an area dedicated to all types of fresh seafood and an area with all types of salads and Bratwurst and an amazing stand-up restaurant in the middle of it all.
As you are standing there feasting on freshly prepared fish of all kinds, you are sipping amazing vintages of wine, fresh bread, bratwurst, fresh salads. The camaraderie is amazing as you are always sandwiched between a combination of locals and tourists speaking a plethora of languages.
For my third Fruit Logistica, I am doing things a little differently. I am going on a supermarket tour and have meetings with suppliers and customers each night (and of course have to compare notes with my friend Marc). And this year I brought some very comfortable walking shoes! I am looking forward to some new culinary experiences and to make some new business connections. And hopefully, if my technology cooperates, I will be able to share some photos.