Establishing key business prospects and contacts, closing successful deals and good networking opportunities were the buzzwords that defined the second edition of ProWine Asia Singapore 2018. Jointly organised by Messe Düsseldorf Asia and UBM, and part of the ProWein World Series of leading trade fairs for wines and spirits, ProWine Asia welcomed over 7,218 quality trade visitors with 40 percent coming from outside of Singapore, mostly from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, across its four-day staging from 24 to 27 April. ProWine Asia was held alongside the 40th anniversary edition of Food & Hotel Asia (FHA), the region’s leading food and hospitality trade event which welcomed 81,896 attendees.

With Singapore gaining momentum as the region’s wine hub and gateway to key Southeast Asian markets, set against the backdrop of Asia’s growing wine culture and rising middle class, much market interest and enthusiasm has been brewing from international wine and spirits companies.

“The Southeast Asian consumer is becoming increasingly relevant to the global market and coupled with their openness to new wine and spirits products, the strong representation from the international wine and spirits community here at ProWine Asia is testament to the region’s significance,” said Marius Berlemann, Director ProWein and Global Head Wines & Spirits at Messe Düsseldorf. For companies wanting to gain a foothold in Southeast Asia and looking to expand their export market, “from the overall feedback received on high quality and range of visitors and the promising leads gained here, all point to the success of the trade fair as an integral face-to-face trade platform for the wines and spirits community,” he added.

Commenting on the synergy of the two trade fairs, Rodolphe Lameyse, Project Director, Food & Hospitality, UBM, was positive. “To see strong collaborations and business contacts forged between the food and hospitality, wines and spirits industry for yet another edition reaffirms the cross-over value of having ProWine Asia co-staged with FHA. The extended line of wines and spirits on display will serve to enhance the sourcing objectives of FHA attendees through a varied and wide selection of labels from around the world.”

ProWine Asia 2018 included a line-up of 300 companies from 33 countries including 14 national and country groups with the largest coming from Spain, Italy, and France, as well as first-time participation from Croatia, and a showing from up and coming wine countries such as India, and Thailand. Also high on the list of products at the trade fair was an expanded exhibit profile of biodynamic wines, craft beers and the debut of Southeast Asian wines.

The growing appeal of the Southeast Asia region

For first time exhibitor, Padre Azul, the first Austrian company to produce tequila, ProWine Asia proved to be the ideal setting for their tequila “to explore the fast-growing Southeast Asian region” as they signed three contracts on-site to distribute the Mexican tequila in Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore. Reinforcing the appeal of the Southeast Asian market was returning Portuguese exhibitor Real Cave do Cedro, who said coming back to the trade fair was an easy decision to meet their expansion plans for this region. “Southeast Asia is an exciting and fast-growing new market for our winery. We have placed our orientation in this market as we believe it will be a very important region for wine businesses in the near future. On our end, we are pleased to have met with new customers from Southeast Asia and beyond,” said CEO, Ricardo Aleixo.

Echoing the same sentiments was Ilpo Sulkala, CEO of Finnish brand Laplandia Vodka, who shared that his second-time participation at ProWine Asia brought him very good leads from Australia and the Philippines, and that “ProWine Asia brings the right target audience together.” Also exploring the new markets of Southeast Asia was Spanish company Vins Padro, with their wine-in-tube concept. Jaume Duran, area manager from their commercial division, was very happy with the connections made in the region and promising leads from relevant distributors and importers.

Showcase of Asian wines, niche labels, alongside top global trends and brands

On show for the first time at ProWine Asia were award-winning wines from Siam Winery (Thailand) and Grover Zampa (India). This ‘Asian element’ to the trade fair was well-received by visitors, particularly for Kerta Widyawati, President of the Indonesia Sommelier Association Bali Chapter. “This is a great start to have some of these wines being featured at an exhibition, which is really a gem for ProWine Asia. There have been many new developments in Asian wine regions which are only going to keep on growing. I look forward to seeing more at the next edition.”

For Singaporean exhibitor Brewlander & Co who specialises in craft beers, ProWine Asia is not just a wines and spirits trade fair. “The trade fair opened up the market for the craft beers industry. We can now come to one single location and have hundreds of companies coming to learn and appreciate our crafted beers”, said John Wei, its founder.

Promoting skills and knowledge transfer

As part of the masterclass and seminar programme, a series of seminars focused on Southeast Asian wines was conducted by wine critic Eddie McDougall, Chairman, Asian Wine Review, and TV personality behind The Flying Winemaker. “ProWine Asia is the platform to educate the market about Southeast Asian wines and spirits. This is one of the most innovative shows in the market, as evident from the fact that they support Southeast Asian wines. The encouraging response for the seminars is a clear indication that people are curious about wines from this part of the world.”

Overall, more than 1,000 attendees signed up for the oversubscribed 18 sessions of masterclasses and seminars that complemented the trade fair and provided an avenue to build technical expertise and network. Topics covered also included how to taste blind, understanding whisky, wines from Bordeaux, as well as an introduction to sake. Held alongside the trade fair was also the well-attended Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET®) Level-1-Award-course in Wines. ProWine Asia was also grounds to the 30th National Cocktail Competition, in collaboration with the Association of Bartenders and Sommeliers Singapore (ABSS). The finals saw the crowning of winners of the Mocktail & Student categories, Cocktail & Tea Cocktail categories, as well as in cocktail flairing and speed bottle opening.

An added sparkle on the show floor

On the return of the ever-popular Champagne Lounge, this year saw a total of 18 Champagne houses offering unique experiences for visitors to seek advice and consult with oenologists to better understand the bubbly. For group coordinator of the Champagne Lounge, Patricia Muller, the response has been fantastic and the fact that they are back “bigger and better with a constant stream of visitors is indicative of the growing interest and appreciation for champagne,” she said.

A toast to what’s next

Summing up the success of the trade fair, Gernot Ringling, Managing Director Messe Düsseldorf Asia said: “Overall, it has been an exciting 4 days and I am delighted with the results – with the synergy that comes from the food and hospitality sectors at FHA, together with the new elements introduced this year and the enhanced line-up of masterclasses which were extremely well received – we know we are moving in the right direction and look forward expanding this further in 2020.”

The third edition of ProWine Asia (Singapore) will take place in 2020, from 31 March to 3 April at the Singapore Expo, alongside FHA Food&Beverage. The sixth edition of ProWine China in Shanghai, will be held later this year, from 13 to 15 November 2018. The next ProWein in Düsseldorf will take place from 17 to 19 March 2019. ProWine Asia (Hong Kong) is from 7 to 10 May 2019.