ProWein 2022 in Dusseldorf, the biggest wine trade fair in Europe, was successfully hosted on 15-17 May, the first comeback after a two-year hiatus but its 38% drop in visitor number raised doubts among the wine industry towards its future editions.
After COVID-19 induced disruptions in the past two years, ProWein 2022 finally made a comeback in Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre in May after its last edition was hosted in 2019.
The three-day fair attracted over 5,700 exhibitors from 62 countries, and over 38,000 trade visitors from 145 countries.
The figure however saw a drop of 38% compared to 61,500 visitors for its last edition in 2019.
“Due to the Covid peak in the 1st quarter of the year we had to postpone all our spring trade fairs to May and June and/or call them off completely,” explains Erhard Wienkamp, Managing Director at Messe Düsseldorf.
“At this juncture we would like to explicitly thank our exhibitors and visitors for endorsing the postponement to May and for backing ProWein! Obviously, their commitment has paid off – because there are numerous concluded business deals reported by exhibitors.” he added.
This year, the fair spans across 13 exhibition halls with the Lounge “urban gastronomy@ProWein” featuring five daily workshops of tastings and interviews, and the Special Show “Caravanning & Wine” about mobile vacation and vehicle recommendations for wine estates.
Top 3 categories of visitors hailed from the specialist retail sector (28%), restaurants, cafés and bars (17 %), as well as importers and exporters (10%). According to Michael Degen, Executive Director at Messe Düsseldorf, two thirds of the 38,000 professionals came from abroad.
Top 5 countries of visitors by continents were Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Due to China and Hong Kong’s strict travel restrictions, few managed to visit the trade fair.
Notably, the fair included 36 wineries from the premium wine region Ningxia in northwestern China. Delegates of the wineries had participated in the ProWein 2022 via video link at a branch venue in Yinchuan, Ningxia.
The eastern foothills of Helan Mountain were awarded the “Emerging Sustainable Wine Region prize” at the opening ceremony, with 10 wines named as Best Wine and Sustainable Wine. The wines from Ningxia were also showcased in the main venue in Dusseldorf for tastings.
Disappointments from French exporters
While the long-awaited wine fair provided a platform with international trade exchanges, some exporters expressed disappointment towards the declining influx of visitors, French wine media Vitisphere reports.
According to the report, a few French exporters were upset by the unbalanced investment on the fair caused by the shrinking visitors numbers. They have attributed the decline to “the inappropriate May date” lagging behind major wine fairs such as the Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris and Vinitaly trade shows in the sales season.
Some reflected the loose layout of booths and additional three halls in this year’s venue had exacerbated the impression of fewer crowds.
French exhibitors even plan to “cut back, or even no longer come to Düsseldorf, from ProWein 2023”, the report wrote.
While the recent comeback of ProWein had faced challenges of postponement and relatively lukewarm response, some exhibitors showed appreciation towards the fair’s wide-reaching trade connections and programmes after suffering from the pandemic.
“We are so delighted that things are finally getting going again after three years and ProWein is being held in Düsseldorf. We succeeded in reaching out to our customers – especially the buyers from Europe, the USA and Africa – and concluding good business deals,” says Anne-Laure Rayne-Helfrich, Marketing Executive Assistant at Les Grands Chais de France.
Sandro Sartor, Managing Director EMEA at Constellation Brands, owner of more than 200 wine and spirits brands worldwide said, “For our business this year’s ProWein has been very important. We managed to conclude concrete deals with customers from Europe, the USA and even Korea.”
Miguel A. Torres, President and 4th generation of Familia Torres, also shared positive feedback on the exhibition format, “To us this year’s ProWein has presented a very high-quality level. The new hall concept has contributed to a more relaxed and yet very professional atmosphere overall. We also clearly noticed this during talks with our customers.”
The next ProWein will return to its traditional March dates from 19 to 21 March 2023. In Asia, ProWine Shanghai will be held from 8 to 10 November this year. ProWine Hong Kong will be held from 10 to 12 May 2023.