Shaping the Future of Consumer Goods

Shereen Shabnam

In an exclusive interview, Julia Uherek, Vice President Consumer Goods Fairs at Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH, provides a detailed overview of Ambiente, the world’s largest and most international consumer goods trade fair. She explores the key factors contributing to the fair’s growing popularity, especially in the Middle East, and its focus on various sectors including the hotel, restaurant, workspace, and retail sectors.

She sheds light on how Ambiente is adapting to current global economic and health challenges and maintaining its status as a trailblazer in the industry in an exclusive interview below:

Ambiente is known as the largest event of its kind in the world. What factors do you attribute to its growing popularity, particularly in the Middle East?

Ambiente is the leading and most international consumer goods trade fair in the world: The trade show reflects the decisive international trends in the industry – globally. And the product segments are truly all-encompassing: Whether Dining, Living, Giving or the latest addition: the Working segment – it shows what will be on the table in the future, what will belong in living and working spaces and what will be given as gifts. In short, Ambiente sets the agenda, reflects the latest developments and gives an outlook on new ones. The fair gives orientation to the industry, both to the producers and to retailers, and that on a global scale.

With two other international consumer goods fairs Christmasworld and Creativeworld held simultaneously at the Frankfurt venue, it is the quintessential one-stop- shop for the global consumer goods industry that provides everything that matters for future business success of companies from the UAE.

With a significant increase in UAE visitors expected at the next event, can you share what drives this interest from the region?

The strong response among visitors from the UAE is significant, indeed. It undoubtedly underscores the region’s sustained demand for products, design and fitout for hotels, restaurants, resorts, shops and workspaces. This drives interest in Ambiente, as visitors can be sure to find any product and producer for any project at any scale in one place and at one time.

At Ambiente, visitors will find a plethora of forward-thinking design solutions and products that set new standards. It features exhibitors in any relevant product segment, from tableware, glass and kitchen supplies to living accessories and interior design who meet the highest standards for luxury, comfort and innovation, for example in hospitality interior design.

What are the key highlights and expectations for the January 2024 Ambiente event, in terms of the number of participating nations, exhibitors, and visitors?

I am glad to say: we are back on track. This means, we are growing in terms of quantity and quality. In 2023, we welcomed more than 4,500 exhibitors in total, of which 3,700 were Ambiente exhibitors. For the coming trade fair trio we expect even more. With regards to the hall space, we are expanding by three new hall levels to be able to create more space for our exhibitors’ presentations. Moreover, we are condensing the space in the halls and additionally placing the supporting programme stages in the foyers.

Ambiente places a special focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) through its Ethical Style program. Could you elaborate on the importance of sustainability in today’s market, especially in the HORECA (Hotel, Restaurant, and Cafe) sector?

With sustainability, you touch upon an increasingly relevant topic. We see a strong demand and, consequently, focus on sustainability in terms of production methods, alternative materials and manufacturing. More than 10 years ago, we initiated this sustainability-focused programme that stages environmentally friendly, ethically produced and sustainable goods and their producers to the trade fair public

Exhibitors are listed accordingly in the online exhibitor search, marked with the Ethical Style label at their stand and are part of a customer guidance programme on this theme. The Ethical Style label in the online exhibitor search and at the stands facilitates the sourcing of environmentally friendly, ethically produced and sustainable goods.

Many designers are currently experimenting with alternative materials for the dining area such as compostable bioplastics for disposable and reusable packaging.

Are there any exciting developments or initiatives that you would like to highlight for our readers regarding Ambiente’s future plans or expansions?

As said before, lifestyles are getting increasingly hybrid, the spheres of working and living are merging, and architecture and design have to provide answers to this. This mobile lifestyle entails new customer needs, and functional spaces like hotel lobbies or restaurants need to cater to these demands. Ambiente gives a platform to exhibitors who provide solutions and to experts and creative minds that have a novel approach – not only to what is current, but also to what is coming.

For 2024, both exhibitors and visitors may expect an enhanced trade fair experience with added value: valuable content, enriching immersive experiences and inspiration that converses into business – just priceless.

Julia Uherek’s insights into Ambiente reveal a dynamic and forward-thinking approach to the world of consumer goods. The fair’s expansion into new sectors and emphasis on sustainability through the Ethical Style program demonstrate a commitment to addressing contemporary challenges and trends. Ambiente continues to be a pivotal platform for global businesses, fostering innovation, sustainability, and international collaboration.

As the fair gears up for its 2024 event, it stands as a beacon for the future of consumer goods, reflecting the evolving demands and expectations of the global market, particularly in the HORECA sector. Ambiente’s continued adaptation and expansion signal a bright and impactful future, positioning it as an essential event for businesses and entrepreneurs worldwide.

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