Tea & coffee: ingredients for success at Host Milan 2021

This week concluded the 42nd edition of Host Milan, and I was fortunate enough to attend for the first couple of days.

Having never been to a trade show before, to me, the Fiera Milano exhibition centre felt gigantic despite the event being significantly smaller than previous years. Several exhibitors I spoke to on the first day (Friday 22 October) stated tentatively that it had been noticeably quiet compared to what they were used to, however this seemed to dissipate the next day as visitor numbers increased and everyone got into the swing of things. The event had an attendance of 150,000 in the end, which the organisers were immensely pleased with, according to Luca Palermo, CEO and general manager of Fiera Milano, “The gamble of going back to meeting in person proved to be a winner.”

Exhibitors with primary customer bases in Italy and Europe obviously felt more hopeful than those serving US and Asian markets, where Covid restrictions are still impacting international travel. To travel from and back to the UK, I had needed a lateral flow test 48 hours prior to flying to Italy, and 48 hours after returning home which was relatively hassle-free. Entry to Host meant either showing your Green Pass (valid certificate of double vaccination) or evidence of a negative Covid PCR result within the last 48 hours, and there was even onsite testing, which I am sure was a massive help to both attendees and exhibitors.

Host Milan also ran alongside the TuttoFood and Meat-Tech events, so the actual tea and coffee sections took up four pavilion areas, which didn’t seem like a lot until I saw the plethora of stands and everything on offer. The usual suspects in terms of trends were recyclable packaging, compostable coffee pods, eco-friendly coffee machines with newer multi-cup functions now that meetings are slowly returning in-person, and of course, energy-saving and ever-speedier coffee-processing systems.

While there was an overwhelming coffee presence at Host, there were some tea brands in attendance which is encouraging for the sector. One exhibitor also excitedly told me of the emergence of ‘tea bars’ in Italy, so watch this space!

I did try lots of coffee, and also sat down for a cup with some of our loyal advertisers, which was a valuable experience. I even had another opportunity to rest my weary feet and watch some of the opening performances for the SCA’s World Barista Cup. From what I saw, fermenting with yeast seemed to be a popular choice by competitors and could well be an emerging trend in the specialty coffee sector. More information about the World Coffee Championships and the full list of category winners can be found here.

To conclude, my first official work trip was a success! I felt incredibly looked after by the Host organisers, and thoroughly enjoyed the press evening, which included a trip to Milan’s famed opera house, La Scala, and its museum, and a cocktail and canapé evening after!

Look for my full event breakdown in our December 2021 issue.

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