A successful Alimentaria confirms the upsurge in international business and domestic demand

Alimentaria goes even further. At the edition marking its 40th anniversary, the great Spanish food and drink fair, which closes today at the Gran Via Exhibition Centre in Barcelona, managed to attract visitors from 157 countries (16 more than in 2014), underlining its international pulling power and efficient role at galvanising exports for sector companies. The show also left a very positive impact on attendees, as shown by the reactivation of domestic demand in view of the rise in consumption.

The 4,000 exhibitors came from 78 different countries and of the 140,000 registered visitors, 32% were international, reflecting the tremendous potential of this event, which has consolidated its leadership as one of the benchmark European trade shows in the sector with innovation and gastronomy as two of its main cornerstones.

Of the 44,000 international visitors, 2% more than in 2014, half were from Europe, mainly France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Portugal and the Netherlands. The second large geographical source of visitors was the USA, followed by Latin America, headed by trade professionals from Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru. Asia’s representation also grew with visitors from Japan, Hong Kong and China. From the Middle East, it is worth mentioning the growth in the number of visitors from the United Arab Emirates. New countries on the list of visitors included Tunisia, Algeria, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Congo and Mozambique.

In addition, Alimentaria invited some 800 top-level foreign buyers, 62% more than in 2014. These included importers and distributors from Europe, Asia, Latin America and the USA who held 11,200 business meetings with exhibitors, 12% more than at the past edition. These meetings, organised in conjunction with the Federation of Food and Drink Industries (FIAB), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA), ICEX España, and the Catalan government’s Acció department, are very highly rated by the companies taking part, which recognise their usefulness when it comes to opening up new markets.

The president of Fira de Barcelona and Alimentaria, Josep Lluís Bonet, noted: ‘The event has consolidated itself as a major platform for exports from the Spanish food industry as well as an important showcase of the sector’s innovations and the new trends that are emerging in this market’. According to Bonet, ‘we are witnessing Spanish products becoming better known and achieving a more premium position, which will result in growth in the value of our exports’.

The General Manager of Alimentaria Exhibitions, J. Antoni Vallsbelieves that ‘at this edition we have taken a very important step forward in our overseas projection, reaching key markets for the future of the food industry, especially for products such as wine, olive oil and meat’. In addition to internationalisation, the strength of domestic demand has also been evident this year, according to Valls: ‘We have managed to attract every professional profile in the food distribution and retail industry, as well as the HoReCa channel, which will translate into new business and opportunities to increase sales in both the domestic and foreign markets’.

Innovation, the highlight                                                                               The 4,000 companies taking part showcased the constant efforts made by manufacturers to innovate in order to respond to new market trends and the demands of different types of consumer. The Innoval area stood out with 300 new launches, including winning brands such as Bodegas Sanviver, Nestlé, Dulcesol, Aneto and Noel, amongst others. Some of the most outstanding products this year included an organic vermouth, sausages for vegetarians and bakery and snack items containing seaweed, all of which addressed new demands for more natural, organic and healthy foods and the quest for enriched foods that help to combat diseases and enhance well-being.

The main barometer for innovation and trends was The Alimentaria Hub, a huge area that hosted over 200 activities to foster knowledge and debate, such as the Conference on the Mediterranean Diet; the Nestlé Creation of Added Value Forum on Food and Climate Change; the Aliber R&D&I meetings of the FIAB and The Food Factory space for start-ups, reflecting the important role of technology in the sector. It is estimated that some 2,200 people took part in the different conferences and presentations.

Gastronomy, the differentiating factor                                       Alimentaria showcased the variety, quality and wealth of the Spanish food industry through gastronomy. This year repeated the excellent response to The Alimentaria Experience, whose cooking demos and master workshops featured such world-famous names as Joan Roca, as well as shining a spotlight on the up-and-coming stars of the Spanish culinary scene, an increasing number of whom are women. Mario Sandoval, Ángel León, Beatriz Sotelo and Celia Jiménez are just some of the 40 chefs who took part. Amongst other gourmet activities, 5,000 people visited the olive oil-tasting bar, more than 1,000 attended the wine-tasting sessions (Vinorum Think) and more than 2,000 visited Spain, Land of 100 Cheeses.

As far as Josep Lluís Bonet is concerned, ‘gastronomy is the great ally of the food industry, and it should take advantage of this to sell more and better. This is something we have always championed at Alimentaria, with activities that reveal the sheer quality, flavour and innovation of these products to create a genuine culinary experience’.

The charitable side of Alimentaria                                                   Meanwhile, both Alimentaria and Fira de Barcelona displayed their community spirit and solidarity at the event. In this respect, it is estimated that volunteers from the Fundació Banc dels Aliments (Food Bank Foundation) will have collected more than 22 tonnes of food and drink by the end of the afternoon, donated by exhibitors. Nutrition Without Borders has also collected over 150 kilos of surplus uneaten food from the restaurants in the Gran Via venue to donate to social canteens in the city. It is also estimated that more than 25 tonnes of glass containers used during the event will be recycled through Ecovidrio this year.

Alimentaria is the benchmark international trade fair organised by Alimentaria Exhibitions, a Fira de Barcelona company that specialises in events for the food industry. Its portfolio of trade shows includes Alimentaria FoodTech, Alimentaria & Horexpo Lisbon, Expo ANTAD & Alimentaria Mexico and Barcelona Degusta.

The next edition of Alimentaria will take place from 16 to 19 April 2018 at Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via exhibition centre.

Barcelona, 27th April 2016