FAIR PREVIEW – ALIMENTARIA 2016 Exclusive Interview
Spain’s Largest Trade Show Introduces New Concepts
This edition of Alimentaria, taking place in Barcelona on April 25-28, celebrates its 40th anniversary as one of major global food and drink fairs. I had an interview with Mr. J. Antonio Valls, director of Alimentaria, about the new concepts which will be available this year, as well as about the frozen food market in Spain.
By Dan Orehov
What are the novelties that Alimentaria will introduce this year?
The most notable change is the reconceptualization through the new Multiple Foods area, the most cross-cutting show that brings together the main industries in the halls of the autonomous communities, re-christened Lands of Spain, and other burgeoning categories such as Healthy Foods, Fine Foods and Mediterrean Foods, which features oil. The aim of this multi-food show is to bring products together with similar positioning in the market to create synergies between companies, improve exhibitor exposure and multiply options to generate business between what we consider to be complementary companies.
How is the frozen food market represented at Alimentaria in 2016?
The frozen food market is both growing in volume and witnessing an increase in quality, even gaining presence in the hotel, restaurant and catering sector. Most frozen food firms will therefore be in Restaurama, along with other firms providing catering services. We believe this new location will improve business opportunities for exhibitors, who will be in contact with other HoReCa channel operators, thus multiplying their chances of reaching business agreement and making deals with other companies. Heavyweight exhibitors to look out for include Gedesco-Maheso, Clavo Congelados, Eurofred and QuickFrost.
What are the main challenges for frozen food on the Spanish market?
The main challenge for the industry is to improve people’s perception of these products. Initiatives such as ‘Frozen Food Month’, led by AECOC and present at Alimentaria through a presentation of a study of the sector’s evolution, really help in this regard. Most consumers think frozen products are of inferior quality to fresh ones. Improving perception is linked to another of the challenges facing the sector, upping launches, and that can only be achieved through more investment in innovation. Although the statistics show a highly innovative industry, the average success of the latest developments in the market are somewhat less than in other product categories.
What are the trends and product innovation that Alimentaria will present to visitors?
Innoval is the place to find the ideas that will set the pace in the next few years. At the next edition we’ll be presenting up to 300 new products designed for a more exacting consumer who is concerned about information, quality and sustainability. This is a new buyer, who values convenience products, ready to use anytime and anywhere. The industry is becoming segmented to cater for all consumer profiles and cover areas like healthy foods, top-of-the-range and Premium products that will continue to spearhead innovation in the sector.
Please provide detailed information about the conference program and business meetings that will be organized.
The Alimentaria HUB brings together the most seminars and presentations on the sector, focused on six main areas: R&D&Brands: Internationalization and Globalization; Nutrition, Health and Wellness; Distribution and Retail; Marketing and Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility. Essential activities are Alimentaria classics, such as the XI International Congress on the Mediterranean Diet or the third NESTLÉ Forum: ‘The Creation of Shared Value’ on the challenges of the food industry in economic, social and environmental sustainability and new events like the Food Bloggers Conference, which will put food professionals in touch with specialists in social networks and communication 2.0. The Alimentaria HUB will also designate areas for business meetings between exhibitors and international buyers, where we hope over 10,000 professional encounters will take place. Outside The Hub, The Alimentaria Experience will feature culinary experiences, with workshops and cooking demos by leading international names, and we’re introducing Vinorum Think, a space for reflection on wine, which brings together industry experts to analyses market trends.
What would a profile of the exhibitors be, in terms of their specialization and geography?
We want to make Alimentaria 2016 the most international edition of the show’s 40-year history. There will around a thousand foreign exhibiting companies (about 25% of the total) and we hope to exceed 40,000 foreign visitors (over 30% of the expected total). Alimentaria is one of the largest food industry events in the world, due partly to the opportunities it offers businesses for internationalization. We are obviously a benchmark for all exhibitors wishing to open up markets in Spain, but we’re also the most effective entry point for many professionals to markets such as Latin America, Southeast Asia and the European Union. We have a large number of exhibitors from key countries such as Italy, France, China, Thailand, Turkey, Mexico and Ecuador, amongst others.