Contributing editor (and former webmaster) Harald Zoschke and his wife Renate recently visited a huge outdoor fun trade show in Cologne, Germany, SPOGA (sports and garden). Here is his report on the barbecue and grilling aspects of that show.
It was a HUGE show. The enormous growth of the grilling and barbecuing
biz in Germany was evident by the fact that this sector now occupied its own two-story hall.
One trend we noticed was that the new generation of gas grills are
becoming bigger, more comfortable and simply "looking sharp,", stuff
to wow consumers’ neighbors. Even those manufacturers traditionally offering cheap charcoal grills had complete lines of stainless steel "Rolls Royce" style gas grills.
Real barbecue smokers are taking off here as well, and there were even innovations in charcoal grills: One unit had motor drives for about a dozen individual kabob skewers to rotate, easy to insert and remove. The bed of coals was easily height adjustable; i.e., when the coals burn down, you could just raise them by turning a knob while fire is on. Various companies showed fuel alternatives to traditional charcoal, briquettes, and fire-starters. Another trend is electrical grills with more of a "real" kettle grill feel to it, rather than a simple heating plate.
There was a booth with all of Steven Raichlen’s books (in various languages), and his ever-increasing line of SR-branded accessories. We met Steven and got his latest book signed. A really nice guy with knowledge of various languages, and definitely a great sense of business.
Cobb Grill is coming back strongly, with a whole line of grills, add-ons and even a handy little Cobb gas grill! Their booth combined the HQ, Scandinavian and German subsidiaries.
With countless of more or less useful grilling accessories on display at about a hundred or so booths, we sniffed out the newest trends over here and picked up a whole bunch of BBQ related products for our shop.
To discourage the Far-East trend-sniffing copy-cats, the organizers had
a "No copy" campaign running, and many booths had "no photo" signs to protect their innovations (hence I didn’t take many shots).
Also, we bought ourselves a kick-ass Australian Beefeater gas grill, retiring our ten-year-old Weber. -Harald Zoschke