12,500 business meetings expected to take place at Alimentaria 2018

Alimentaria, the greatest exhibition platform for the Spanish food and beverage industry and a show of reference in Southern Europe, is celebrating more than four decades since its foundation. This year the show will be even bigger as Alimentaria joined forces with Hostelco, the International Trade Fair for Equipment for Catering, Hospitality and Communities. J.Antonio Valls, director of Alimentaria and managing director of Alimentaria Exhibitions, gave an exclusive interview to EuroMeatNews in which he talks about what makes the Spanish trade fair a succes and about the expectations for this year's grand event.

Posted on Apr 16 ,07:06

12,500 business meetings expected to take place at Alimentaria 2018

 What do you expect different from this year's edition of Alimentaria?

It will be the largest fair we have organized so far, because Alimentaria (the Food, Beverage and Food Service Show) will be held with Hostelco (the International Exhibition of Equipment and Machinery for Catering, Hotel and Catering). These two exhibit halls will offer a great platform for internationalization, business, and innovation, with gastronomy like differential value, for the food industry, drinks, Food Service, and hospitality equipment.

What further information can you tell us about the partnership between Alimentaria and Hostelco? Do you think it will boost the event's success?

Alimentaria and Hostelco will occupy an area covering 100,000 square meters of the Gran Via in Fira de Barcelona. This event will be a unique opportunity for professionals and important companies and organizations in the sector, hundreds of activities, and the presentation of the latest news in food and drinks for the restaurant and gastronomy industries.

Furthermore, it is expected that around 150,000 professional visitors will attend, of which close to 30% will be foreigners and 1,400 key buyers are also invited. More than 300 innovations will be displayed, some 120 conferences and congress activities and 35 chefs with 45 Michelin stars are going to do different showcookings.

How many companies will be exhibiting within Alimentaria this year and what is the key factor that kept the interest of the companies for your event over the years?

Alimentaria celebrates more than four decades and in this next edition we have the support of 4,500 exhibiting companies (27% of which will be international from 70 countries) which shows that we have been able to contribute to the most significant changes that have occurred in the food industry and in the way of feeding.

Furthermore, the key factor that attracts so many companies is that Alimentaria is the show of reference in southern Europe and one of the most important in the world and the main exhibitor of the products and novelties of Spanish food and gastronomy, which are a world reference.

What are the main attractions of this year’s edition?

There will be a lot of novelties. Among others, I would highlight in Barcelona Cocktail Art (in Intervin), an area in which the most innovative proposals and products in the field of cocktails will be announced, in line with the booming trends of nightlife and, on the other hand, Vinum Nature, a new space for grouped for organic wines. We will premiere the Craft Beer Corner (in Restaurama), an area dedicated exclusively to craft beer. And, within the meat sector, I would highlight the celebration for the first time in Alimentaria of the World Congress of Wholesale Markets – promoted by Mercabarna with the World Union of Wholesale Markets –, which guarantees the presence at the fair of the large wholesale distribution, managers, and Market managers from more than 40 countries, potential buyers of meat products.

What is your international strategy in attracting such diverse players from the food and beverage industry?

Internationalization is a long-term process that has been brewing for years, although exports from the Spanish agri-food industry took a decisive boost from 2008 (because of the slowdown in Spanish demand). Therefore, from Alimentaria we work to promote 12,500 business meetings among international buyers (in this edition we have invited 800 Hosted Buyers) and exhibiting companies, within our Food & Drink Business Meetings and Intervin Business Meetings programs.

What can you say about the exhibition's evolution from its start until now? How did Alimentaria make its name in the industry?

The keys to the success in Alimentaria over these four decades have been – among others – the reiterated commitment for the professionalization of the sector; internationalization, since the show is an important meeting point and business between exhibitors and international buyers; the verticality so we put in value the most representative monographic salons in the sector in our country, such as Intercarn (the show dedicated to meat products and their derivatives); gastronomy as a differential feature of positioning, as well as the constant innovation and observatory of trends that the fair represents.

How does Alimentaria support the Spanish food and beverage industry?

Alimentaria supports the Spanish food and beverage industry and, above all, its internationalization. For this, the show has the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA), the ICEX. It has also signed collaboration agreements with the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB), the Spanish Hospitality Federation (FEHR), and the Association of Large Consumer Companies (AECOC), among others, with the aim of facilitating the contact between exhibitors and international buyers.

Have you noticed an increase in foreign participators? Are there exhibitors from outside Spain attending for the first time at Alimentaria?

International companies value the excellent opportunities offered by the show as a gateway to the Spanish and European markets, so we have more and more international demand. Around 27% of the exhibiting companies of Alimentaria will come from outside Spain. The countries of the European Union that contribute with most exhibitors are Italy, France, Portugal and Germany, although it is the presence of Eastern Europe (Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Russia, Republic Czech and Latvia, among others), Asian countries (led by China and South Korea), Mediterranean countries (such as Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) and Latin American countries (such as Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica) that is becoming increasingly important. And, of course, there are exhibiting companies that come to Alimentaria for the first time.

What benefits do you see arising from uniting the two fairs for Spain's food and beverage industry?

Among others, the main benefit is the common goal of getting the assistance of those more than 150,000 professionals who will find in the same venue the most complete and transversal offer of the global market, as well as its main trends. In this way, both visitors and exhibitors will benefit from the synergies generated between the products offered and the activities of both events, especially when the demand of the catering sector presents a high degree of atomization.

Did the announcement regarding the partnership between Alimentaria and Hostelco influence the number of exhibitors from the food & beverage industry that are programmed to attend this year's edition?

Yes, because gastronomic quality will be promoted, which will be one of the main hallmarks of Alimentaria and Hostelco and unique in the world. Therefore, more than 150 activities will be organized to promote connections between the food, gastronomy and tourism industries.

Considering how popular is the Spanish cuisine at an international level, how does Alimentaria and Hostelco plan to promote it further?

The complementarity between the two fairs will be especially evident between Hostelco and Restaurama, the Alimentaria salon dedicated to Food Service and food outside the home, and in the spaces that each of them devotes to gastronomic demonstrations. Thus, the Hostelco Experience and the Alimentaria Experience will gather 35 of the most awarded chefs of the moment, adding 45 Michelin stars among them. Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz restaurant, Gipuzkoa), Fina Puigdevall (Les Cols, Girona), Nandu Jubany (Can Jubany, Barcelona), Paco Roncero (La Terraza del Casino, Madrid) and Mario Sandoval (Coque, Madrid) will participate in both events with different approaches.

Which are the most popular products showcased during the exhibition?

Undoubtedly, the star space of Alimentaria to expose the products that will become the most popular of the salon is Innoval – the exhibition with about 300 novel products of food and drinks –, within the Alimentaria Hub, where the Innoval Awards will also be delivered to 16 of the proposals on show.

What can you tell us about the exhibition for the meat products from Alimentaria?

The most important companies and associations of the Spanish meat industry have validated their confidence in Intercarn. The show, which will exhibit raw meat products, processed, cured, precooked, dry, Iberian and range elaborations, will occupy about 15,000 square meters (11% more than in the last edition), hosting half a thousand exhibiting companies, of which 20% of them will participate to Intercarn for the first time.

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