Real innovation was sadly lacking at this year’s Anuga trade show in Germany.

There were only a smattering of products offering that ‘wow’ factor. Many of the ‘new’ lines on display were simply me-too versions of existing innovations - probiotic dairy drinks being one example - while other developments were mainly brand extensions or products reformulations (with changes usually made to boost the health credentials of the product).

The show, which finishes in Köln today, featured 6,294 exhibitors from 108 countries and was expected to have attracted more than 161,000 visitors.

There were some discernable trends: products are increasingly being packed in more convenient formats, there were loads of better-for-you ranges, all manner of functional foods were on display and there was a high level of interest in products offering true provenance.

On a slightly more bizarre note, the sheer number of ‘alcohol busting’ products on display suggests these products could be the next big thing, while whey-based drinks were also a surprise hit at Anuga.

But some key ideas have apparently slipped off the food industry radar. Omega 3, which was a huge feature at the Sial exhibition in Paris just last autumn, was virtually non-existent at Anuga, while food products based on aloe vera, which was the big theme at Anuga two years ago, were also thin on the ground.

And those expecting to see how the world’s food industry is dealing with the craze for antioxidants, which is massive in North America, were disappointed; we only found one dried fruit producer talking about this issue.

The show’s fun element came courtesy of next year’s World Cup, which has driven many German manufacturers into a frenzy of excitement as they look for ways of cashing in. Football mania was everywhere - with everything from soccer-themed burgers, soft drinks, confectionery and cheese on display.

Anuga also gave visitors with a chance to taste what emerging countries have to offer. Exhibitors from eastern Europe and Russia were very noticeable, for instance, while China had a huge pavilion of more than 300 companies at the show. It was fascinating to see how all these countries are gearing up to supply products into Europe.

In addition, South America’s meat suppliers took massive stands at the show - a sign of how important they are becoming to the European market.

And for the first time at Anuga, the concept of fair trade and the Fairtrade mark was noticeable, albeit in a very low key way.