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This weekend! Future food at Clärchens Ballhaus

Ahead of a packed Food Fest finale, we learn about the latest trends in culinary innovation, from kombucha to cold brews and alcohol-free booze.

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The tipBerlin Food Festival culminates in a weekend of talks, workshops and the EDEKA FOODMARKET at Clärchens Ballhaus. Photo: Clärchens

On October 9 and 10, Clärchens Ballhaus opens its glittering halls for the final weekend of tipBerlin’s Food Festival. Culinary talks and workshops from the city’s gastro stars take place on Saturday, while the EDEKA Foodmarket serves up regional produce in the Spiegelsaal and leafy courtyard on both days. Moabit’s Food Tech Campus will also be showcasing some of its latest hits. We talked to EDEKA DIGITAL’s tech scout Jan Lingenbrinck to find out more. 

What is EDEKA’s Food Tech Campus?

The Food Tech Campus, opened in 2018, is roughly 1300sqm of coworking space, which we share with half a dozen start-up companies that have their offices here. Over 200 members use the remaining space with flex desks, meeting rooms and event areas. Founders of food and tech companies can approach us with a food idea and we help them finish their product, make it marketable and then sell it within EDEKA.

Can anyone approach you and become a member or do you have a vetting process? Our target group is food and tech founders who want to develop products or services that offer direct value for our retail operations. Anyone with an idea for a product or service can apply. Most founders who approach us are already experts when it comes to their creative product, their brand or their desired target group. We guide them through the less joyful parts, like certifications for food safety, declaration requirements, pricing mechanics and legal stuff.

Could you give examples of hot new start-ups you’ve helped out?

I can give two examples. The first one was really from scratch. It’s a company called 005 and they make an organic hard seltzer. The two founders joined the Campus with different start-ups and found each other through the community. They leveraged our network of experts, prototyped their product and just recently launched with a few local retailers here in Berlin. We also have the meat-alternative company Planted, which was already a larger, well-funded start-up when it joined. They’re from Switzerland and produce great meat alternatives, such as vegan chicken strips or vegan pulled pork barbecue. It’s all pea-based and clean label (meaning very few ingredients). They used the Campus as their first base of operation to staff their German team and coordinate their product rollout in Germany.

So what to expect at Clärchens?

We picked nine founders with exciting products, some of which were developed at the Campus. 005 Seltzer will be there, plus vegans brands SpiceNerds and eatPLANTS, as well as the Berlin Distillery and firm Limo favourite Wostok.

What can you say about current trends in food innovation?

The topics that crop up at the Campus mirror global food trends. For example, I can only think of a few products developed there that aren’t organic. Sustainability and transparently sourced, organic ingredients are pretty much a baseline for most of the founders. Beverages also make up a large part of new brands, like canned kombucha, cold brews and alcohol-free spirits.

A lot of people want to drink these days but with no or very low alcohol content. That trend is really taking off, right?

Yes, that is also a technology thing. It’s not that easy to produce tasty non-alcoholic spirits at scale. But now you see founders coming from technical universities and applying their engineering expertise to create products that have no alcohol but taste great.

Would you say these mega-trends are all well suited to the German market?

Many of the current trends originated in the US, the UK and Nordic countries. Just because it works abroad does not necessarily mean the products will sell well in Germany. Trends like hard seltzer are only starting to pick up, while dairy and meat alternatives are already well-established categories.

What about the Berlin bubble – stuff that may work here but not elsewhere in Germany?

Most customers do not live in urban areas like Berlin. And many products that work well in large cities also perform surprisingly well in rural areas. You should never underestimate the curiosity of the average customer!

EDEKA Food Market Oct 9-10, 14-21 Clärchens Ballhaus, Auguststraße 24/25, Mitte. Entry is free.