16203 Tue, 02/17/2009 - 1:52pm
by Allison Zisko
FRANKFURT, Germany–Tabletop and housewares vendors worked hard to maintain a positive stance at Ambiente, which wraps up here today.
Show organizer Messe Frankfurt said that overall Ambiente 2009 was on par with last year’s show, though it acknowledged that growth has flattened after years of increases.
Vendors across all categories were determined to position themselves for when the economy eventually rebounds.
“You don’t want to be afraid to bring out anything new,” said Maximilian Riedel, chief executive officer of Riedel, which introduced several high-end decanters as well as more value-pack tumblers. “If you don’t reinvent every year, [retailers] will get bored and will not revisit [your booth in the future].”
Riedel sees the current economy as rich with opportunity. “Whoever survives this crisis will benefit in the end,” he said.
Although vendors are making best-guess estimates of when the economy will improve and what consumers will want when that happens, supplying the goods for cooking at home was one significant movement across all categories and targeted channels of distribution. Manufacturers also introduced scaled down versions of cookware, bakeware and kitchen textiles for children to use, believing that more and more families are teaching their children how to prepare food and enjoy being in the kitchen. Individual mini-baking pans in whimsical designs were also prevalent.
Environmentally sound products continue to be popular. In tabletop, more vendors introduced recycled and recyclable glass tumblers and plates; many of them had more visual clarity (i.e. no bubbles) than in the past. In housewares, non-stick finishes for cookware and bakeware that are not harmful to the environment or to human health were offered. And in both segments, glass is being promoted as a healthy, safer alternative to plastic. Glass and porcelain storage items with airtight lids are a growing segment of tabletop.
Wood finishes or constructions are enjoying resurgence, evident in wood-handled cutlery from several leading vendors, wood-grain looks in tabletop and wooden-handled cleaning supplies.