Earlier this year, Peter Schmitz became the new director of Prowein, moving from head of international contract business at Prowein’s parent company Messe Düsseldorf.

While Schmitz might be new to the drinks industry, he isn’t new to exhibitions, and he has worked at trade fairs across the world for around 20 years.

He’s in London to talk about plans for Prowein 2024.

The first thing Schmitz acknowledges is that consumption of wines and spirits “wherever you go is decreasing”. He talks in a similar vein to Vinexposium CEO Rodolphe Lameyse about younger consumers not showing as much interest, particularly when it comes to wine.

While Schmitz contemplates this trend for future events, he’s keen to stress that wine is still centre stage for 2024’s Prowein, with 11 of the event’s 13 halls dedicated to wines from across the world.

In all, the exhibition will play host to around 5,700 exhibitors from 60 countries, while visitor numbers, he predicts, will exceed 50,000.

“We have to bring back the quantity of visitors to pre-Covid years,” he says. “We had around 60,000 before Covid and last year slightly less than 50,000 because of the strikes. Next year, we have to have more than 50,000 and bring a healthy level between exhibitors and visitors. We’re investing in quality to bring the key players to market.”

Key themes on the wine side include alternative packaging, continued sustainability, organic wines and the Champagne Lounge. Within sustainability, Prowein 2024 will welcome organisations such as International Wineries for Climate Action and Sustainable Wine Roundtable.

Spirits  

Moving on to spirits, Schmitz says that 2024 will see an increased focus. The segment will now occupy the whole of Hall 5 as organisers look to bring spirits companies, tastings and forums into one Pro Spirits zone. The hall is also next to the exhibition’s Same but Different zone, which champions craft products across spirits, beer and cider and highlights current themes “trending in the hip, urban bar community”.

Organisers say the Pro Spirits and Same but Different halls create a “new brand world where everything revolves around spirits”.

The Pro Spirits Forum and Trend Hour Tastings see trend scout Jürgen Deibel flag up current industry trends including: the resurrection of vodkas with character, the world of agave, and RTDs.

Besides growth in spirits, Schmitz also mentions the low and no alcohol category, which will occupy a newly named Prowein Zero zone in Hall 1 next year.

“We have always seen ourselves as a partner of the wine and spirits sector and picked up on the needs of the market – as we did with our ‘no-and-low’ themed special show which debuted at the latest Prowein,” says Schmitz. “In 2024, we will follow on from this debut under the name Prowein Zero.”

The number of low/no exhibitors is also expected to grow.

As our conversation draws to a close, talk returns to the anti-alcohol lobby and falling alcohol consumption.

“We do not yet see the effect because next year we will have more or less the same level, exhibitor-wise,” Schmitz says. “We’re happy to reach this result for 2024. But thinking about 2025/2026, it could be a challenge.”

Schmitz believes education, as well as low and no alcohol alternatives, will be key to bringing new consumers to wine – and so it’s likely we can expect this area of the show to continue growing.

The exhibition takes place from March 10-12 at Messe Düsseldorf.