International Green Week: East German Products at the Global Trade Fair

Now in its 83rd edition with almost 1,600 exhibitors from 66 countries, the annual International Green Week in Berlin is the world’s leading trade fair for the exhibition for the food and agriculture industries. Read on to find out more about the history of the event and about the East German products and brands on offer at the Messe Berlin between January 19 and 28.

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

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Forbidden Food

Just imagine: a country without pizza. No margherita, no calzone, no quattro formaggi. As the first pizzerias were starting to make their appearance in West Germany, the East-German government couldn’t allow this Italian – and therefore non-socialist – delicacy. They put it on the blacklist, together with American snacks like hamburgers and hotdogs. You wanted fast food? There was currywurst. Little did the government know about the power of pizza – because it didn’t take too long before it found its way to the people.

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Finding the GDR in the Supermarket

Back in the GDR, shopping for groceries must have been some sort of adventure trip for anyone coming from the West. Coca-Cola, Nutella, Mars, Nivea? None of those big Western brands were for sale in the former East Germany. Instead, the country created its own brands or continued already existing companies that were based on GDR territory. There were around 700 of them, some pretty much one-to-one copies of famous Western brands, others authentically GDR. A 2012 study found that about 100 brands managed to stay alive in the new Germany – and a lucky few even have a spot in the supermarket.

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