Once again, Düsseldorf, Germany, will be opening its doors to the international wine and spirits trade show ProWein 2023, which will take place March 19–21. This year, around 50,000 trade-show goers are expected to attend along with 6,000 exhibitors from over 60 countries.
We caught up with Michael Degen, executive director of Messe Düsseldorf, one of the world’s largest organizers of international trade shows including ProWein, and discussed what makes this event so unique, his thoughts on emerging industry trends and more.
Wine Enthusiast: In 2022, ProWein returned from a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. You still saw around 5,700 exhibitors from 62 countries return. What can people expect this year at ProWein 2023 in terms of exhibitors?
Michael Degen: Last year the response was already very positive despite the pandemic. At ProWein 2023, we will increase our numbers again and definitely reach the mark of 6,000 international exhibitors. The range of products will again be very international. The exhibitors will come from over 60 countries. We are very proud to be able to present such an international and comprehensive range to the entire industry. That is what we stand for and what sets us apart. That is the unique selling point of ProWein.
WE: ProWein has been going on for more than two decades. What makes this event so appealing to the industry?
MD: There is simply no other event that is so international and comprehensive. The entire Who’s Who of the industry is represented here—whether on the exhibitor or visitor side. I recently had a conversation with an importer from New York. He told me that he appreciates ProWein so much because he can work very efficiently here and can meet all the important people. Instead of traveling in his own country, he comes to ProWein in Germany to meet all his suppliers from California, Washington and Oregon.
WE: In terms of events like guided tastings and lectures, what can guests expect this year?
MD: We will offer a very diverse range of events. This includes, for example, the trend show “same but different” with craft drinks, the Champagne Lounge, an area for organic wines and a no- and low-alcohol section. But an important cornerstone of ProWein is also the professional ancillary program, which is primarily provided by our exhibitors. There are around 500 events directly at the exhibitors’ stands. We will complement this offer with our ProWein Forum and provide an additional area for special tastings and master classes. By the way, the complete program can be found on our homepage.
WE: ProWein has become a place for newer wine regions to establish themselves in the international market. Could you cite a specific example of this?
MD: In recent years, many new regions have been able to assert themselves alongside the large established wine-growing regions. England is one such example. A lot has happened here, especially in the segment of sparkling wines. Great Britain wine producers will also be represented with a large stand at ProWein. China is also developing some potential. [China’s] Ningxia region on the Helan Mountains, for example, plays a major role here. These wines have now reached a very good level and can definitely stand up to international comparison.
WE: ProWein is also a place to introduce the industry to new and emerging trends. Can you give us a look into trends consumers can expect to see in the coming year?
MD: A top trend that is just on the horizon is the topic of alcohol-free wines. Increased health awareness and changed consumer behavior among Generation Z are the main reasons for the trend. With the “World of Zero,” we are giving it a stage. Whereas the alcohol-free products were previously located throughout the exhibition halls at the stands of the respective producers or importers and exporters, they will now be concentrated in one area in Hall 1. And 2023 will [also] be about packaging alternatives to glass, #kabilove (Riesling) and organic wines.
WE: Peter Schmitz recently became the new director of ProWein. Can you talk about what his role will look like?
MD: Currently, Peter Schmitz is still thoroughly familiarizing himself with all the issues. Right after ProWein, he will officially take the helm. As the director, he will then not only be responsible for ProWein in Düsseldorf but also for our satellite events around the world. These include ProWine Shanghai, ProWine Singapore, ProWine Mumbai and ProWine São Paulo. In 2024, ProWine Tokyo will celebrate its premiere.