February in Frankfurt isn’t exactly Spring time in Europe, but the clouds and snow didn’t stop the world of housewares from converging at the sprawling Messe trade fair grounds for what is arguably the largest show for house and home in the world: just over 4,500 exhibitors and 133,000 claimed attendees. It takes the better part of a day just to walk the show, even if you don’t stop even once.
The whole atmosphere in Frankfurt is different. The show runs from Friday through Tuesday–five days–compared to just three days (really two and half) for the IHA show in Chicago each March. There’s more strolling around. The vendors uncork their wine and beer sometime after noon. Some booths have elaborate kitchens–one so striking some visitors thought it was a restaurant–to serve their guests. There’s a air of relaxation and friendliness absent from many other trade shows.
The general prospects for 2010 seem good for the cookware and bakeware industry. There’s still wounds from 2009, but the perception is that things are improving. High end producers feel like consumers are beginning to let loose of some of their money. Budget minded Europe doesn’t spend like America does, but they will pay extra for style and their styles anticipate the U.S. market by a year or more sometimes.