If you like to keep track of how many steps you do a day, then can I introduce you to ProWein, the world’s biggest international wine and spirits show that this week celebrated its 25th anniversary. It has come a long way in that time. In fact if you came to ProWein in 1994 you would not have got many steps up at all as it was all held in one hall. Twenty five years later and you could beat all your personal bests trying to keep up with events across some 16 halls and 6,500 exhibitors. Not that we counted them all…
ProWein over the last five years has cemented itself as the must go to wine exhibition in the global wine calendar.
So what were you doing 25 years ago? If you were in the wine industry back then, Dusseldorf would have had no special meaning to you than any other regional German city.
A quarter of a century later and now Dusseldorf is arguably the most important city in the world to do business in. Not New York, Hong Kong, London, Tokyo or Shanghai. But little old Dusseldorf.
All thanks to what has been the slow, steady and now phenomenal growth of ProWein, by far the most important trade fair in the wine calendar.
Time and again at this week’s show exhibitor producers repeated the same mantra: If I am only gong to do one show a year, it has to be here.
But it hasn’t always been that way. Far from it. In fact even 10 years ago ProWein was only a trade show for those in the know. But somewhere around 2013 the pendulum switched and ProWein suddenly became the show you had to go to. For producers and buyers alike.
That was when I might have been responsible for dubbing the show ‘Planet ProWein’ in the UK wine title, Harpers. Particularly when you consider only 14% of visitors as recently as 2002 were from outside Germany, compared to the 54% now.
ProWein actually started out as ProVins, with the first show taking place in February rather than the familiar mid-March date it is now known for. The figures from 1994 are hard to believe considering the scale of the show now. There were just 321 exhibitors, all of whom could fit into one hall – rather than the 16 halls that ProWein 2019 stretches to.
It was also primarily a Germany show with only 250 visitors coming from outside, and even they mostly came from France. It was also very much an Old World affair with exhibitors representing Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Spain and Hungary. The only non-European country was strangely enough Columbia.
In year two the exhibition numbers swelled to 532, spread across two exhibition floors.
It was in 1997 that the name was changed to ProWein and the logo that is still used today was introduced. That was also the year when it topped 1,000 exhibitors for the first time and the number of countries represented reach 25.
World of wine
Fast forward to 2019 and the show has become a mini wine city transported to the exhibition halls of Messe Dusselforf. Pass one from hall to the next is like being on a magic carpet speeding you from country to country, continent to continent.
And for those who like to count their steps, you can break your own personal record every day rushing hall to hall to your next meeting.
There are now nearly 6,500 exhibitors from 67 countries, covering 73,348 square metres, a staggering rise from just the 250 in 1994, over 2,914 metres. Visitor numbers for the 2019 show were 61,500 up from 60,500 in 2018, who travelled from 142 countries, up from 133 in 2018 to be there. Eighty per cent of which were buyers. The top five visiting countries include Germany, the Benelux, France, Italy and the UK.
In terms of who is there then the biggest share of exhibitors goes to Italy (1,654) followed closely by France (1,576), Germany (978), the New World (600), Austria (335), Spain (661) and Portugal (387). The show also attracted 400 spirits producers this year.
If it’s not too soon to be thinking of next year, then ProWein 2020 will be back from March 15–17 March in Düsseldorf and in 2021 it will be March 21–23. But that’s a story for another day.