Dispatches from IFT

Germany spies investment opportunities at IFT

By Jess Halliday in Chicago

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Europe European union

The German food industry is targeting new trade and investment from food firms in the US at the IFT trade show in Chicago this year, as Germany can provide access to continental Europe and top R&D capabilities.

Government-funded Germany Trade and Invest offers free consultancy to companies on questions such as contacts, locations for setting up offices, and R&D services. It also has local partners from the federal states across the country.

Its aim in attending IFT of which it is also a sponsor is to meet hi-tech food firms which are already active internationally and present to them the possibilities for working in Germany, Europe's largest food and beverage retail market.

Spring-board to Europe

The food and beverage retail trade brought in revenue equal to US$225bn in 2009, and out-of-home sales reached $88.2bn. The Germany food manufacturing sector which serves food retailers, in turn, attractive for global food ingredients companies whose wares can be incorporated into finished products.

Like other European markets there is presently strong interest in health and wellness and functional foods, and many products which previously occupied a niche are now propelled into the mainstream.

But the opportunities for foreign firms in Germany stem not only from the 82 million German consumers; the county's location in the centre of Europe means it is a convenient point of entry into other Western European countries and the high potential Central and Eastern European markets, such as Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

Germany industry has seen a steady increase in exports to other EU member states; in 2008 exports were up over 30 per cent and it has a strong logistics framework in place; the country was recently ranked number 1 for infrastructure in a study by the World Economic Forum.

Public and private investment in food and beverage research capabilities has also meant that Germany is an attractive location for foreign firms to conduct their research and development. Some 54 per cent of private R&D spending in Germany is by companies from overseas, including those who are adapting products to the local market.

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