【DE】History of the International Green Week Berlin

From a local commodity exchange to the world’s leading trade fair. Over 100,500 exhibitors and 34 million visitors since 1926.

The International Green Week Berlin is the most traditional and most visited Berlin trade fair and is one of the best-known events in Germany. No other international exhibition with direct involvement of hundreds of thousands of consumers every year took place more frequently in Germany than Green Week. The world’s largest consumer show for agriculture, food and horticulture has developed from a simple local commodity exchange. Since 1926, more than 100,500 exhibitors from 130 countries have presented themselves to 34.0 million trade and private visitors with a comprehensive range of products from all continents.

 

First Green Week ended “wild trade”

It all started with loden coats. When the German Agricultural Society (DLG) at the end of the 19th century held their winter conferences in Berlin, green clothes strikingly determined the image of the city for a week. In parallel, crafts and industry offered job-specific articles and consumer goods in the conference district on the open street. When this wild “trade and change” took on ever stronger forms, the farmer Hans-Jürgen von Hake, at the time an employee of the Berlin Tourist Office, had the idea of linking the conference to an agricultural exhibition on Kaiserdamm for the first time in 1926. The “Green Week” – the term probably came from journalists – was born. This step was unanimous at the time. Before that, riding and driving tournaments, small animal exhibitions, a seed market and hunting shows were scattered all over Berlin. These were now presented compactly for the first time on 7,000 square meters in a radio and a car hall and already counted more than 50,000 visitors in the opening year. At that time, the German imperial capital itself still used one fifth of its territory for agriculture and horticulture. In their urban area lived 45,000 horses, 25,000 pigs, 21,000 dairy cows and more than half a million pieces of poultry. 200,000 Berliners owned an allotment garden. The biggest exhibit of the first show was an iron-tired universal tractor with 100 hp. The four-meter-high monster with oversized wheels was considered a sign of the beginning of mechanization in agriculture.

 

Achievements from science and technology

Green Week developed rapidly in the following years. Achievements from science and technology celebrated their premieres at the Green Week from now on. For example, in 1928, a footprint machine should prove that a dog only traces the human footprint and not the smell. At the 5th “Green Week” 1930 caused a huge egg freshness harvesting machine, in which 5,000 eggs rotated in circles and were to be kept fresh “naturally” for over a year. News such as a jug milking plant, a crawler tractor or more powerful cereals from well-known breeders were increasingly popular in the 1920s and thirties. In 1935, the trademark designed by Wilhelm Hölter – the stylized yellow ears of corn on a green background – became the symbol of the Green Week. After the failure in 1938 as a result of the foot-and-mouth disease rampant in Germany, the “Green Week” temporarily opened its doors for the last time a year later and pointed out a topic that is still current today: A special and widely visible attraction was the “nutrition clock”, which was programmed for calorie savings and automatically gave tips for healthy meals.

 

Green Week in the years of Nazi propaganda

After the “capture of power” of the National Socialists on the 30th. January 1933 (at the same time the Green Week 1933 ran, this time under the name “Green Sports and Animal Breeding Week” from 28.1.-5.2.) it took only a few weeks for the Nazi regime to bring all trade fair and exhibition activities in the German Reich under its complete control. With the appointment of Josef Goebbels as “Reich Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda” on the 13th. March 1933 began a new era for the Berlin trade fair company. On the 18th In April 1933, the “Institute for Cultural and Economic Propaganda” was founded, which controlled every exhibition activity in the Nazi sense. She was followed by the transfer of responsibility for trade fairs and exhibitions from the Reich Ministry of Economics to the Ministry of Propaganda on the 30th. June 1933 and the founding of the “Advertising Council of the German Economy” on the 12th. September 1933. All these steps completely robbed the trade fair company of any responsibility for the contents of the trade fairs and exhibitions at Kaiserdamm and Funkturm. By law, the fair had been placed under state control.

How this would affect was already during the 39th. Travelling exhibition of the German Agricultural Society, which can be seen under Nazi aegis on the entire exhibition center and the open spaces to the south from the 20th to the 28th. May 1933 was organized. Even this last DLG exhibition (society subsequently merged into the “Reich diet”) was completely marked by Nazi agricultural policy, which pursued racial ideological and ultimately expansionist goals under the slogan “Blood and Soil”. In the “first Green Week in the new state”, the Green Week 1934, the goal of the self-sufficient self-sufficiency of the Reich and the end of food and feed imports was announced, a measure that previously redirected foreign exchange and resources related to imports into armament.

“Blood and soil” ideologues such as the Nazi Minister of Agriculture Walter Darré henceforth determined the contents of the Green Weeks. In total, the National Socialists completely left their mark on five “Green Weeks” (1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1939). In 1938, the “Green Week” was cancelled due to the rampant foot-and-mouth disease. During the last Green Week 1939, it was proudly announced that the degree of self-sufficiency in food is now higher than in 1914, a clear indication of the next war, which then led to the end of the exhibition system at the exhibition center.

 

New beginning with sausages and cardboard ham

After years of war, hunger and destruction, the Central Association of Allotment Gardeners, settlers and landowners revived the “Green Week” to life in late summer 1948 with incredible civil courage. 59 exhibitors presented their exhibits to the Berlin audience – and under adverse circumstances. The three western sectors of Berlin received electricity only from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and suffered from the Soviet blockade of all land and waterways. For example, on the opening day of the “Green Week”, 250 British and 357 American aircraft brought supplies of all kinds to the western part of the city within 24 hours. On the exhibition grounds, fruit and vegetables such as a 3.3 kilogram box cucumber or a pumpkin that weighed 40 kilograms were much marveled attractions that were unattainable treasures for many Berliners in times of hunger and lack. The Kreuzberg breeding sow “Dora” with its piglets made visitors dream of ham and bacon pages, but what actually hung on ham and sausages on some stands was unfortunately only made of cardboard.

 

Adenauer marveled at Dutch vegetable pyramid

The new beginning was made. From 1949, the “country-owned Berlin exhibitions” were responsible for the fair. In 1950, the Green Week was cancelled due to major construction work. The internationality of Green Week began when in 1951 an obviously far-looking exhibitor from Holland offered appetizing vegetable pyramids to the amazed audience. They also triggered admiration among Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Subsequently, the participation of foreign exhibitors increased continuously in the coming years. Green Week has always been a trendsetter: The biogas plant “Darmstadt” was already presented to the experts in 1953. The manufacturer advertised with a daily biogas production of ten cubic meters, “which is sufficient to supply the combustion points in the house for cooking, hot water treatment and potato steaming.”

Until 1961, Green Week was particularly attractive for farmers in the former GDR. Between 30 and 50 percent of visitors repeatedly found their way to the Berlin Radio Tower – despite considerable obstacles at the sector borders. In 1954, more than half a million visitors crowded through the now nine halls with a total area of 30,000 square meters for the first time.

 

Internationality in times of the Berlin Wall

The first exhibition after the construction of the Wall (13. August 1961) was an incentive for the organizers to prove the viability of the event even more so after the lockdown to the surrounding area. It was first called “International Green Week Berlin ’62” and was under the patronage of Federal President Heinrich Lübke. Of the 669 exhibitors, almost half came from abroad. A total of around 50 countries, most of them from Western Europe, as well as the USA, Canada, Israel, Morocco and Lebanon had already secured a permanent place at that time. Over 438,000 visitors drank 100,000 pieces of wine, ate 300,000 “Grosschenäpfel” and strengthened themselves on 65,000 portions of yogurt from the Germany stand and made the “Green Week” of 1962 a complete success. At the France stand, even the supply became scarce: In the end, more than 54,000 oysters had been cracked and slurped.

 

Growth through professional focuses

The “International Green Week Berlin” became increasingly important professionally in the following years. It was increasingly based on the three pillars of the food industry, agriculture and horticulture. Special shows on current topics, country community stands as well as performance shows of individual regions were very popular. The professional accompanying program with up to 150 specialist events experienced growing interest. The international agricultural film competition was part of the program during this time.

In 1971, the concept was expanded through teaching and special shows such as computer science and fishing, forest and landscape. While the sufficient supply of food to the population was still in the foreground in the two decades after the World War, the aesthetic side of food and drink received more and more attention. “It tastes best from home,” the German Wine and Sparkling Wine Route, “Appetite ahoy” of the fishing industry and more and more flowers testified to it.

At the same time, the German agricultural and food industry intensified its efforts to promote the sale of agricultural products. In close contact with consumers, the International Green Week Berlin offered information about the production and refinement of agricultural products through specialist information and contributions. This is evidenced by changing special show topics such as “From grain to bread”, “From the benefit of the forest”, “Barley, hops and malt”, “Cheese from Germany” to “Extensive animal husbandry”.

With the commissioning of the International Congress Center Berlin (ICC Berlin), which is directly connected to the Berlin exhibition center by a bridge structure, the number of conferences accompanying the fair increased at over 250 events at each Green Week. The International Green Week Berlin received further enrichment in 1981 with the first International Forum for Agricultural Policy, 1982 with the first “Fresh Forums” for sensitive agricultural products, in 1984 with the first MultiServa for communal catering and in 1986 with the first “Bundesschau Fleischrinder”, later followed by “Schhafen” and “Cold blood horses”.

 

New flowering period after the turnaround

In 1990, a new heyday began for the International Green Week Berlin. After the unification of Germany, it was again open to all visitors from the natural surroundings as well as from the neighboring states of Central and Eastern Europe. While some things were initially improvised due to time constraints, from 1991, the five new ones together with the old federal states demonstrated the performance of the food industry in the first all-German community show of the Central Marketing Society of the German Agricultural Industry (CMA) and the federal states.

Since then, the product markets for beer, milk, meat/sausage, tea/herbs/spices and seafood have been added to the program with great success.

The Green Week participants had an extensive supporting program with around 300 lectures, seminars and symposia, including the International Forum for Agricultural Policy of the German Farmers’ Association and the East-West Agricultural Forum of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

With the first FRUIT LOGISTICA 1993 (since 2004, the world’s leading trade fair for the international fruit trade has taken place separately from the Green Week), the agricultural machinery show and the MultiServa as specialist events as well as the Heim-Tier & Pflanze (integrated into the Green Week since 1996) and the BioMarkt 1998, the traditional trade fair under the radio tower received new attractive program items.

 

New millennium with future topics

With the completed extension of the Berlin exhibition center to 160,000 square meters in 1999, the agricultural area of Green Week could be expanded to include the segments “animal breeding” and “renewable raw materials”. With the new millennium, Green Week was conceptually supplemented by future-oriented topics such as “Green Money” and “Renewable Energies”. The Adventure Farm started its success story and has been showing how modern agriculture works since 2000.

Future-oriented topics such as “Multitalented Wood” and “nature.tec” – expert show for bioenergy and renewable raw materials – enriched Green Week 2008. The Federal Association of the German Food Industry (BVE) and the Federation for Food Law and Food Science (BLL) presented themselves for the first time in 2008 under the motto “Power for Life – Eating and Moving”.

Visitors were able to experience their pleasure tour through German lands for the first time on a “Germany tour” at the IGW 2012. The previous Länderhalle Deutschland (Hall 20) was upgraded by seven consecutive exhibition halls. Since then, the regional specialties from the coast to the Alps have been presented even more authentically than before. A total of 14 federal states presented food and beverages from the respective regions of Germany.

 

Green Week under the sign of the enlarged EU

With the International Green Week 2005 – the first event after the eastward enlargement of the EU (1. May 2004) the largest internal market in the Western world – more than ever, Berlin became a meeting place for politicians and experts in the fields of consumer protection, food and agriculture. By 2007, the EU grew to 27 member states. The impact of the opening of the inner German and European borders on Green Week since 1989 is shown by the fact that, in addition to traditional participations from Western Europe, around a third of the issuing nations now come from Central and Eastern Europe.

 

Partner country is in particular attention

In 2005, there was an official partner country at Green Week for the first time. The Czech Republic kicked off, followed by Russia in 2006 with an impressive variety of specialties from almost all regions of the country from St. Petersburg to distant Siberia. The Green Week 2007, which was opened by Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, was all about the German EU Presidency. As a partner country in 2008, Switzerland presented under the motto “Grüezi Berlin! Switzerland. Of course.” Specialities from all 26 cantons of the country. The Netherlands offered “quality next door” as a partner country in 2009. Russia once again represented the largest foreign participation at the Berlin exhibition center this year with 6,000 square meters. This strong appearance was underlined by the first visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Green Week.

Hungary continued its tradition as a partner country at IGW 2010. In 2011, Poland convinced visitors with its biggest appearance at a Green Week so far with culinary specialties from all regions and the slogan: “Polska tastes good!” The partner country of Green Week 2012, Romania, urged visitors: “Explore the Carpathian Garden!” The Netherlands celebrated its 60th anniversary of Green Week in 2013 with the message “Quality is growing in Holland.” With the slogan “Natural Estonia”, the partner country drew attention to the importance of its clean nature for agriculture and tourism in 2014. Latvia – take the time, Latvian President Andris Berzins recommended at the IGW opening in 2015. The partner country 2015 also held the EU Presidency in the first half of the year. Morocco was the first non-European partner country to welcome its guests in the atmosphere of a North African medina in 2016. The partner country 2017 presented itself under the motto “Traditional, Diverse, Natural: Hungary”. The partner country Bulgaria brought the “Aroma of the Sun” to Berlin in 2018. “From the wild” greeted the partner country Finland in 2019. In 2020, the partner country Croatia presented its culinary diversity.

 

On the way to the World Agricultural Summit

In order to do justice to the global discussion of agricultural issues dealt with in Berlin and at the same time to acknowledge the high-ranking occupation with top representatives from the entire agricultural policy and economy, the International Conference of Agriculture Ministers replaced the previous East/West Agricultural Forum at Green Week 2008. The further expansion to the World Agricultural Summit continued at Green Week 2009 with the top representatives of the entire Around 50 agriculture ministers and thus twice as many as in the previous year had accepted the invitation of Federal Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner to launch an international climate protection initiative at the Berlin Summit of Agriculture Ministers 2010. In 2011, the topic was “Trade and safeguarding world food: Global – Regional – Local”. In 2012, the GFFA took up the central role of the agricultural

On the 4th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Summit was attended by ministers from around 70 countries. At the GFFA 2013 on the topic “Responsible investments in the agricultural and food industry – key factor for food security and rural development”, strategies for meaningful investments were discussed. In 2014, the topic of the 6th GFFA “Strengthening agriculture – mastering crises – securing food”. In 2015, the 7th GFFA the question “Growing demand for food, raw materials and energy: opportunities for agriculture, challenges for food security?” on the agenda. The 8th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) brought together key international players from politics, business, science and civil society in 2016 under the guiding theme “How do we feed cities? – Agriculture and rural areas in times of urbanization.”

In July 2017, Germany hosted the G20 summit of heads of state and government of the 20 leading industrialized and emerging countries on financial and economic issues. Therefore, immediately after the 9th. GFFA 2017 with the guiding theme “Agriculture and Water – Key to World Nutrition” the Agricultural Ministers’ Meeting of the G20 States (22.1.2017). The 10th GFFA discussed the topic “Shaping the future of animal production – sustainable, responsible, efficient” in a global context. The 11th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, at which Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke to around 70 agriculture ministers at CityCube Berlin, devoted herself to the guiding theme “Agriculture digital – Intelligent solutions for the agriculture of the future”. In 2020, the GFFA was under the motto “Food for all! Trade for a safe, diverse and sustainable diet.” Due to the pandemic, the GFFA 2021 and 2022 will take place digitally. In 2021, the forum discussed the topic “Pandemic and climate change: How do we feed the world?” In 2022, the agriculture ministers will meet under the motto “Sustainable land use: food security begins with the soil”.

One of the special highlights of the Green Week 2019 was also the appearance of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the 12th. Future Forum Rural Development. In 2020, she looked back on a 94-year eventful history. Also the 85th IGW was once again a mirror of the time. For example, the topic of sustainability was the focus of many appearances. Among other things, the “Friday For Future” movement was represented with its own stand in the Berlin Hall.

Green Week 2021 was in the shadow of the global corona pandemic. In its 95-year history, the International Green Week starts purely digitally for the first time. Thus, the leading global trade fair for agriculture, food and horticulture set standards and brought the current topics of the industry online: Whether animal welfare and climate protection, regional value chains “from farm to fork” or cooking with algae and insect meal – from the 20th to the 21st century. In January 2021, the professional and private audience was able to follow more than 100 contributions free of charge on four channels.

In 2022, the International Green Week did not take place due to the corona pandemic.

The Green Week is organized by Messe Berlin GmbH. Ideal sponsors are the German Farmers’ Association (DBV) and the Federal Association of the German Food Industry (BVE).

 

Note on the ticket shop and accreditation:

This year, Green Week is relying entirely on online tickets for the first time. Tickets can already be purchased at www.gruenewoche.de/tickets.

Registration is only possible online. There will be no on-site accreditation, but only online at https://www.gruenewoche.de/de/presse/akkreditierung/.

 

 

1951, memorial card from the Green Week Berlin. On display are some attractions of the exhibition, which can report a post-war record with 284,000 visitors, such as the tree hall, whose seedlings were later planted in the summer garden

 

 

About the International Green Week

The International Green Week Berlin is one of the most traditional trade fairs in Germany and one of the best-known events in Germany. Founded in 1926 in Berlin in the Golden Twenties, it is unique as the leading international trade fair for food, agriculture and horticulture. Exhibitors from all over the world present an extensive range of products on ten days of events. In addition, the IGW provides a stage for current social issues such as climate protection, circular economy, resource conservation and sustainable land use. From 20th to 29th January 2023, the 87th Edition of the Green Week. The IGW is the starting point for the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA for short). The GFFA is the leading international conference on central future issues of the global agriculture and food industry. The highlight is the meeting of over 70 agricultural ministers.

 

About Messe Berlin

Berlin has been a trade fair location for 200 years, one of the most important in the world for many decades. As a state-owned trade fair company, Messe Berlin designs, markets and organizes hundreds of live events every year. The aim is to be an outstanding host to visitors at all events, to give the best possible business impulses and to ensure fair conditions for everyone. This self-image is reflected in the company motto: Messe Berlin – Hosting the World.

 

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