An experience on the level of the best vintages, consolidating HostMilano‘s leadership as the global reference hub for innovation in professional hospitality, out-of-home and food retail. This was the most recurring comment among exhibitors and industry professionals at the close of the 43rd edition, held at fieramilano in Rho, which ended last Tuesday, October 17.
More than 180 thousand professional visitors, among whom the incidence of international operators from 166 countries stands out, which exceeded 42% of the total. In addition to European nations such as Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, particularly large delegations were registered from North and South America (1 in 10), the Gulf countries and Asia (about 1 in 5).
Beyond the numbers, what was most striking was the quality of the business meetings, thanks to the high profiling not only among the more than 700 hosted buyers, who arrived in Milan also thanks to the cooperation of ITA-ICE Agency, but also among the spontaneous visitors, often represented by corporate decision-makers with high spending power.
Buyers find innovative technologies and ideas for new business
And if some people have traveled many thousands of miles to get to Milan, even from as far as the Fiji Islands, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) or Tanzania, there is a reason for it: HostMilano is the event where top players from all over the world – over 2,100 exhibitors this year, of which 40% international, from 50 countries – preview their new technologies to the point that, as foreign buyers themselves say, you can find innovations not yet available in target markets even for companies already present.
This is what M. Afraz from Saudi Arabia notes, for example: “Here at Host 2023 we found state-of-the-art machinery that the same companies do not have in their catalogs or even present at local trade shows. Coming to Milan is indispensable!” Can you tell us something specific about the Saudi market? “We have found easily transportable hi-tech machines that meet a specific need of our clients: luxury excursions in the desert, in traditional nomadic style – for example, for falconry – but with all the modern comforts.”
Colonna and L. Di Santo, top managers of a major distribution player in Argentina with a strong domestic food production component, also agree: “In Latin America, distribution is now making transitions that happened years ago in Europe, such as from large areas to small- to medium-sized outlets in the city: here we have found many compact multipurpose machines that are ideal for this transition. Moreover, in a high-inflation economy such as ours, automation and being multipurpose are essential for optimizing costs. Here we find new generation products that are not available in South America: a company that is already our supplier, which only offers 4 models, here instead exhibits 20 of them.” And just as important as technologies are ideas: “We also aim at seizing new inspirations: many innovative food products that here are now mass-market, are still premium in our country. By looking at the European market, we can target the purchase of processing lines that we will be needing in the future.”
Finding ideas and inspiration, particularly looking at Europe, is also the watchword for Z. Rakhimov from Kazakhstan: “Our pastry company manages hundreds of locations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, with widespread delivery and a centralized workshop with 150 master pastry chefs, who produce everything in an artisanal way,” Rakhimov explains. “The younger generation is looking to the West, and we have developed a business model that combines opportunities to consume food from different European food cultures: French breakfast, Italian snack-time, English tea. Here at Host 2023 I was very impressed with the part dedicated to gelato and coffee. Our next step will be to bring to our markets Italian gelato and espresso coffee, well-liked by young people, but still little known in Central Asia, where the culture of tea is very strong: here at the trade fair we have already optioned machines.”
Exhibitors took advantage of Host’s all-encompassing opportunities
Exhibitors at the event were ready to take up these demands, offering broad-based innovation, and ready to seize international business opportunities, including ‘world on world’ opportunities.
“It is important for us to be at HostMilano because we have customers all over the world, Asia, India, the Middle East, Europe, America, and of different types, from distributors and manufacturers to large chains. And here we can meet them all,” stated the CEO of Middleby, Timothy John Fitzgerald. “The innovations we are focusing on in this edition are sustainable technologies to save electricity – such as an innovative induction with 95 percent efficiency – and ‘ventless’ appliances, i.e., without a fan or chimney, in which we are leaders. The latter components have a huge impact on the environment and are expensive for a restaurant, and we are able to create a kitchen completely without the need for a chimney.”
“Just like HostMilano, our company deals in the world of coffee in all its facets, so it is natural for us to be here,” adds Pascale Capelle, Group Marketing Manager of Bianchi Industry. “In particular, we presented a hybrid OCS range for the office and retail but also for hotels, small establishments or larger ones, and we chose Host 2023 to preview a new machine that will be offered on the market in 2024. We met with roasters and distributors, restaurateurs and large chains, many from Asia and Eastern Europe, as well as many Italians.”
“We’ve been coming to HostMilano for many years, because it is an event of the highest professionalism, one that exalts the attractiveness and goodness of Italian savoir-faire,” concludes Franco Costa, chairman of Costa Group, a leader in out-of-home design. “We have met many Italians and a great deal of foreigners, in fact, we work a lot in the United States, the Gulf countries, Switzerland, France and Spain. The level of business meetings has also exceeded our expectations, because we have noticed that operators increasingly understand the value of a complete design, not just beautiful shop windows and a nice counter, but also experiential elements such as the right kind of light, atmosphere and musicality.”
Innovations set in contexts, often of design, that ‘tell the story’ of how products are responding to the desires of users: in fact, according to research presented at the event by TradeLab, 51% of Italians are ready to return to spending in the out-of-home sector (the second largest item after travel), and as many as two-thirds (66%) place more importance on an experience that stimulates anticipation, expectation and curiosity – but at the same time is reassuring – than on food and drink alone.
Regarding motivations for choosing an out-of-home experience, quality (56%) is far more important than price (26%), but relationship with the staff, indicated by about one-third of respondents (34%), and service (24%) also count. Italians, on the other hand, seem willing to travel for a quality out-of-home experience: only 13% consider the location of an establishment important, and just 6% go there out of habit.
A propensity for storytelling that has been reflected in the dynamism of the social media. On Instagram alone, #HostMilano exceeded 1.4 million impressions, and the countries that followed the event the most on social media were Italy, Brazil, the United States, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. The response in the mainstream media was also remarkable, with 1,342 journalists present (279 international ones) and more than 5,000 quotes and articles.
Design also at the center for Smart Label – Host Innovation Award, the prestigious award for sustainable innovation promoted by Fiera Milano and HostMilano, in collaboration with POLI.design and under the patronage of ADI – Association for Industrial Design.
After the proclamation ceremony, held on Friday, October 13, the 26 award-winning products (out of 157 entries received from around the world) remained on display throughout the event in a dedicated Smart Label Area.
New trends also pass through great champions
And as always at HostMilano, innovation not only means novelties in the exhibition route, but also training and professional development in a vast array of events – this year there were more than 800 appointments – that often pass through encounters with the great masters of the diverse specialties.
The anticipation was great, particularly for those making their debut.
A ChocolateCulture@Host23 maître chocolatier Davide Comaschi and his team of experts delved into the different aspects of chocolate – from science to culture to business – with the masters of ALMA and the Chocolate Academy in Milan, as well as guests including the Latte Art Champion Matteo Beluffi, Bocconi University lecturer Magda Antonioli and Corriere della Sera columnist Nicola Saldutti.
Also making its debut precisely at Host 2023 was the team competition in theWorld Panettone Championship, organized by the Academia dei Maestri del Lievito Madre e del Panettone Italiano.
And it was the home team, Italy, that won the first edition. The national team took the gold medal in all categories: Classic (Aniello di Caprio), with Chocolate (Giuseppe Mascolo), innovative savory (Claudio Gatti). Taking second place was Japan, and third place was won by Argentina.
Evaluating the creations was a renowned jury composed of leading international names such as Enrico Derflingher, Jean-Paul Hévin, Agostino Iacobucci, Christian Jürgens, Max Mascia, Davide Oldani, Fabio Pisani, Christian Schaberreiter and Gianni Tarabini.
Spotlight, as with every edition, also on the gelato-pastry world with the long-awaited return of Luxury Pastry in the World curated by Iginio Massari, who again this year conducted a dialog, not only on trends but also on entrepreneurial experiences, with great Italian and international masters of the caliber of Fabrizio Galla, François Stahl, Kabir Godi, Loretta Fanella, and Filippo Valsecchi.
Always arousing great enthusiasm among participants and the public are the pastry and gelato making championships organized by FIPGC – International Federation of Pastry, Gelato and Chocolate.
France was the winner of the World Trophy of Pastry Gelato and Chocolate (team composed of Luc Bodin, Nabil Barina, Amaury Lafonta with Chrikioui Charaf Eddine as coach); second was China (team composed of Liu Zhaokai, Liu Fuhuan, Liang Ling); third was Japan (team composed of Kawano Keiichi, Matsuda Midori, Mita Masaki). Competing in the finals were Italy, Tunisia, Japan, China, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Malaysia, France and Mali.
Winning the Cake Designers World Championship, among 24 professionals from 12 countries, was instead Poland (team composed of Angelina Chwyć and Renata Martyna), second was Italy (team composed of Maria Concas and Giuseppe Pruiti) and third was Belgium (team composed of Antonio Sant’Angelo and Anka Moldoveanu).
The World Trophy of Professional Tiramisù went to China, which defeated fierce competition from Italy, Malaysia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico and Japan. Second place went to Italy, while third place went to France. Special award for traditional tiramisù again went to Italy, special award for innovative tiramisù went to Japan.
Among the events organized by FIC – Federazione Italiana Cuochi, in the unprecedented National Cheesecake Championship winning the gold medal and the absolute Junior Gold was Samuele Riva, while the gold medal and the absolute Senior Gold went to Yuri Alù from Albavilla (Como) with an interpretation that added grapes and strawberry to the classic fresh cheese base.
In the Italian selection of the prestigious FIC Mille Youth Trophy, founded in 2010 in France by Michelin two-star Chef Philippe Mille and intended for young talents, among 12 pairs from all over Italy the laurel crown went to Gaia Costigliolo and Pietro Specchio of IPSEOA “Marco Polo” in Genoa, coached and accompanied by teacher Umberto La Pietra, who will represent Italy in the international final.
In turn, the podium of the European Pizza Championship, organized by the newspaper Pizza e Pasta Italiana, saw Italian Luca Di Benedetto of the Passione Pizza restaurant in Borgosesia (Vercelli) take the highest step. Place of honor for Frenchman Yoan Garcin of Le Petit Naples in Billom (Auvergne), and third place to another Italian, Cristian Tolu of Pizzeria Brown in Quartu Sant’Elena (Cagliari).
In the Coffee Village curated by ALTOGA – Italian Association of Coffee Roasters and Importers and Food Wholesalers saw triumph among 15 professionals in theEighth Grand Prix of Italian Coffee Making: Gianluca Tofani (Riccione) followed by Luciana Matera (Pordenone) and Matteo Ginelli (Lesmo).
In the fifth edition of the exciting Moka Challenge, the podium saw Denis Ferrari on the highest step and Diletta Sisti on the middle step, while in third position was Alfonso Pepe (both events in collaboration with AICAF – Italian Academy of Coffee Masters).
Four instead, one for each level in the competition, were the winners of the National and World Latte Art Grading Championship 2023: Giuseppe D’Arco (green), Salvatore Riunno (red), Carmela Maresca (black) and Michele Zhonghua Hu (gold).
Levels ‘in color’ also for The Wlags Battle 2023, which went respectively to Matias Felipe Faundez Faundez (Chile) for green, while in red is Italy with Salvatore Riunno, in black is Jorge Figueroa (Puerto Rico), and finally, on the gold level, the champion is Italy’s Michele Zhonghua Hu, who confirmed his national victory by also taking home the world trophy (both events in collaboration with Latte Art Grading System).
The fourth edition of the Milano Latte Art Challenge, an international competition conceived and organized by Trismoka, culminated instead with the victory of Manuela Fensore for Italy (already World Latte Art Champion 2019), in the final against Neora Schwarts, for France.
The appointment with the 44th edition of HostMilano will be held at fieramilano from October 17 to 21, 2025.