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Navigating Knife Brands and more at Messe Frankfurt Ambiente

Messe Frankfurt Ambiente event is one of the world’s largest trade fair for consumer goods, that is held annually in Frankfurt, Germany. It serves as a platform for manufacturers, suppliers, designers, and retailers to showcase their products and innovations. Messe Frankfurt Ambiente is a key event for professionals and businesses involved in the consumer goods sector to connect, collaborate, and stay updated with industry trends.

Countless of booths with various products during the Ambiente event, some have a massive booth that looks like a store in itself.
The above picture is the booth from Atlantic Chef a knife made in Taiwan.

Chefpanko at the Messe Frankfurt Ambiente Tradeshow

Since this is my first time at the Ambiente tradeshow, I had no expectations but the Ambiente fair got me by surprise. It had 12 halls and to go from hall 1 to 12 you need a shuttle bus that was provided for free included in the ticket and some halls have multiple floor levels.

The main reason for attending was because I wanted to see what some of the knife brands were showcasing there.

Included in your entry ticket: Christmasworld, Ambiente, Creativeworld

Popular Knife Brands and Sharpening Abrasives Manufacturers

While the Ambiente event in itself was enormous, my time was limited, so I focused on visiting specific halls. Among the many exhibits, I was particularly drawn to the booths of popular knife brands and sharpening abrasives manufacturers. However, some familiar names like Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Miyabi, and Wusthof were absent this year (2024) but were present in 2023.

Highlighting Select Brands

Despite encountering over 50 kitchen knife-related brands and Manufacturers at the Messe Frankfurt Ambiente tradeshow, several stood out to me for various reasons.

Hado Knives were fascinating to look at.
The above picture is Hado’s B1D Series.

Here are the select few that left a lasting impression:

  1. Hado: Hado Knives were truly fascinating to look at, the attention to detail was amazing it looked like traditional knives in a new improved jacket in terms of added details. The representatives Motonari Fukui and Mai Kashiwagi were amazing and lovely to talk to. Despite the impressive bigger booths from bigger brands, Hado Knives had to share one booth with 4 other Japanese brands with just a single table to showcase their products. [Click here for the full article]
  2. Xinzuo: Xinzuo showcased their newer series, which at the event were prototypes and not the final production, which was interesting to see what they are working on. [Click here for the full article]
  3. Horl 1993: The product that surprised me the most is Horl. Horl is a sharpening product that is innovative, when I first saw their ads, I was skeptical, but after seeing and testing the demo models and talking to the Co-Founder, Timo Horl, my skepticism went away pretty much after the first roll. They do notice many copycats that infringe on the patents they own and can extend. [Click here for the full article]
  4. Hasegawa: After speaking with Toshi Hasegawa, I could sense his passion for the products he sells. Not only was he an amazing person to talk to, but the products were also well thought out and made from high-quality materials. [Click here for the full article]
  5. Naniwa Abrasive: Naniwa Abrasive is one of my favorite brands when it comes to whetstones. After speaking to Naniwa Abrasive, I noticed they were more focused on white-label manufacturing than selling their products, collaborating with other brands as a white-label abrasive manufacturer. The most interesting about the talk was the possibility of exclusive contracts In terms of the exclusivity of newly developed abrasives in collaboration with certain brands.

Other brands I encountered during my visit

European brands:
Victorinox, Burgvogel (Messermeister), F.Dick etc.

The European knife booths were a bit disappointing, with a new handle and a different shape, but everything is still the same. No real improvements other than refreshing something they already had in a new jacket or knife style.

Like most European brands it is just a new designed handle or blade style/shape.

Japanese brands:
Yaxell, Kai Corporation, Suncraft, Tojiro, Sakai Knives, Mac, Global, Kataoka, Kasumi Hado.

In terms of quality, you can see that the Japanese-branded knives had better attention to detail and pretty much nailed the kitchen knife-making process compared to the European brands. However, the bigger brands had no real innovations besides that. Booths like Global, Tojiro, and Kai had the same knives I had already seen years back (some already introduced in Asia so good to see them marketing it in Europe now).

Most Kai knives I have already seen in Asia

Only a select few like Hado knives made a real long-lasting impression on me. However, the booth of Kai Corporations had a lot more new products to showcase beyond their knives like their Auger nail clippers which were already promoted in Asia, interesting to see the new product line being pushed in Europe.

The Kai Auger brand focuses on male grooming and manicure products.
Some of the products have patented elements and designs.
(KAI is one of the brands with an impressive booth and representatives that speak various languages)

Chinese brands:
Cangshan

I had high hopes for Cangshan, but my visit to their booth left me disappointed. While the knives were adequate, I expected more from a brand with such a strong marketing presence especially considering they have Thomas Keller as their brand ambassador. Unfortunately, the representatives seemed disinterested in assisting me, and instead, they were preoccupied with their conversations. Despite this, I must acknowledge that the knife designs are generally comfortable, with appropriately sized handles and adequate blades. However, there is room for improvement with some minor adjustments. Despite my desire to offer feedback, it appears that their focus is elsewhere, particularly on expanding their retail network.

*There were over 50 kitchen knife-related brands the above list was the more popular brands that I encountered

Closing Thoughts:

So, my time at the Messe Frankfurt Ambiente tradeshow was quite a ride! I saw so many kitchen knife brands, but only a few grabbed my attention. But, not everything was perfect. Some brands didn’t impress me much. They either didn’t make great knives or just seemed like they were mass-produced without much care. Anyway, being at the tradeshow taught me a lot. It showed me how important it is to choose carefully when buying knives or other kitchen-related products. A lot of brands and manufacturers were there just to get a new client or retailer. Only a select few cared about making their products better.

Closing Tip:

  • Consider waiting until the final day of the event to make purchases.
  • Exhibitors often offer discounted prices on showcased items during the last hours.
  • Smaller booths may provide particularly good deals, while larger booths with nearby warehouses might offer some items for sale at a discounted price directly during the entire event.
▶ If you want to know what knife you should buy you can read 
the following article ''Choosing your knife''. 

▶ On my youtube channel, I have reviewed a lot of different knives.
You can watch the playlist by clicking here.  

▶ Click here, if you want to search for other
kitchen knives on:  Amazon.

▶ Click here, if you want to search for other 
Chinese knives on AliExpress.

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▶ Check out my recommendation on Amazon:
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▶ If you have any questions about Japanese knives made in China 
or about some of the brands feel free to ask it in the comment section below.   

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ChefPanko

Hi, I'm ChefPanko, I have worked for multiple restaurants and have decided to share my experience with you guys. I will share recipes and techniques that I have learned, taken, and improved from the French, Japanese restaurants that I have worked for. I will also explore other cuisines with you guys.

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