Donna Berry 2019COLOGNE, GERMANY – Speculoos-flavored rice cakes, plant-based schnitzel and Bavarian jerky balls were some of the innovations that debuted at Anuga 2021, the biennial global food exposition held Oct. 11-13 in Cologne. The food and beverage fair welcomed more than 70,000 visitors from 169 countries and more than 4,600 exhibiting companies from 98 countries.

“We are delighted with this result," said Gerald Böse, president and chief executive officer of the Koelnmesse exhibition space. “It underlines the global significance of Anuga and the trust that is placed in us as a trade fair organization. It also shows that Germany as a trade fair location continues to hold a leading and attractive position in terms of the global competition."

The dominant theme throughout the 11 halls was plant-based, with products such as vegan pesto sauce made with tofu, and microwavable spicy legume cups showcased among the numerous meat and dairy alternatives, with fresh, ready-to-cook items the most common.

The microwavable spicy legume cups — We Cup — were developed by Lofrese in Italy. They are being marketed as “a world of colors and flavors.” This marketing strategy was a trend among exhibitors, where they start with a classic, original or plain version of a traditional formulation, and then add layers of natural colors and flavors to give it an international flair. Examples include olives infused with curry and avocado blended with kiwi.

We Cup is available in five varieties. The original is black beluga lentils with tomato and basil. The other four are American (yellow and green peas with bacon-flavored sauce), hot and spicy (chickpeas with curry sauce and flaxseed), Indian (black beluga lentils with ginger and turmeric) and Mediterranean (mung beans with capers and olives). The company emphasizes the convenience product is made with 100% vegetable protein. 

The exposition included the Anuga Taste Innovation Show, which is a trend barometer and source of inspiration for product developers. A total of 418 companies with more than 1,332 ideas applied for inclusion in the special show. The judges selected 67 products and concepts based on concept, innovation, sustainability and creative implementation. Ten products received exceptional accolades. They included dried salmon jerky chips, frozen beet root tots, a low-calorie agave-sweetened lager, flavor-infused olives, scallop appetizers, frozen pesto drops, saffron sauce, compostable coffee capsules, jackfruit vegetable balls, and 100% fruit and vegetable bars.

In addition to exhibits, the New Food Conference was part of the educational portion of Anuga. Plant-based and cellular technologies were the focus.

“We are on the cusp of one of the fastest and most consequential transformations of the food system since humans first started domesticating plants and animals,” said Denise Loga, the event host who is a European-based sustainability expert that consults with food and beverage manufacturers. “Sales of plant-based products are skyrocketing, while cellular agriculture and precision fermentation hold the potential to change the way we grow our food forever.”

Robert Jones, head of public affairs, Mosa Meat, a Dutch food technology company creating production methods for cultured meat, said, “We see cellular as a supplement not an alternative.”

He is involved with starting the Cellular Agriculture Europe association. The Belgium-based coalition of companies is committed to playing a part in building a more resilient and sustainable future by using a small sample of animal cells to grow meat and fish without growing the whole animal.

Israel-based MeaTech 3D, and its Belgium-based business unit Peace of Meat, presented its new product: cultivated chicken fat. Made from chicken fat cells, the biomass is used as an ingredient in plant-based meatballs to give it desirable meatiness in terms of flavor and texture.

MeaTech believes hybrid products containing cultured animal fats combined with plant-based ingredients can offer consumers a “meatier” experience than wholly plant-based meat products, representing a significant improvement in what currently exists in the alternative meat market. MeaTech sees such hybrid products as fueling its initial revenue stream while the company develops and scales an industrial process for achieving its vision of offering pure cultivated meat products, namely, premium, center-of-plate meat products, such as structured marbled steaks.

View a slideshow of innovation at Anuga 2021.