At the end of January we headed to ISM in Cologne, the world’s largest trade fair for sweets and snacks, following three months’ prep – inviting clients, checking sales figures and building up to a couple of product launches.
Thanks to a direct flight from Inverness Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol, and some fast trains to Cologne, we had plenty of time to set up for the four exhibition days. We’ve had the same pitch for the past four years, an aisle end on a main thoroughfare – easy for customers to find us, and prospective clients to spot us. With 1,647 competing stands and 38,000 visitors, anything that helps us stand out from the crowd is a bonus!
I’ve always liked the business focus of ISM; we can have meetings and presentations, catch up with current clients and pitch to new ones in our own space. It’s hard work – business runs from 9am to 6pm, and there are always drinks receptions and events going on in the pavilions afterwards – this year, the UK pavilion celebrated Boyd Tunnock’s 85th birthday, so we had to toast that with more than one of his famous teacakes! I spent each of the three nights taking customers out to dinner, so it’s a good atmosphere and a very sociable event.
This year, we premiered our haggis-flavoured oatcakes, which went down a storm, and showed off the new packaging for the Christmas pies - it's got a less traditional, more artisan feel, and was very well received.
At close of business, we came away with six good quality international leads, including a major Brazilian supermarket chain. It’s been a good show, marked by high quality exhibitors and visitors from all the EU countries, North America, China, Korea, South America, Australia and New Zealand. We also managed to do a fair bit of scouting, seeing what ideas are coming through, and thinking of ways to develop new products.
I highly recommend exploring the overseas trade show opportunities for your business sector. We’ve been doing ISM for about ten years now and thanks to HIE’s help we’ve built on our experience year on year. I’m looking forward to next year’s German trip already!