Gama spoke to Josep Antoni Valls, Director of Alimentaria, ahead of the show’s 20th edition in Barcelona.
What are your day to day activities?
The major part of my day to day work is taken up with the strategic direction of Alimentaria Barcelona: meetings with the different areas of the organisation, dealings with institutional stakeholders and clients, project and planning reviews, etc. Specifically, providing direction for and ensuring delivery of a complex international project that is developed over more than a year and a half. Aside from this, the board of Alimentaria Exhibitions is also involved in broader areas of company management and strategy.
How many people work in the organisation before and during the fair?
The Alimentaria team has excellent expertise and know-how because our activities are centred on the food, drinks, hospitality and gastronomy sectors. The core team is composed of 25 people, in addition to the wider operational team from Fira de Barcelona (the event venue) which is also involved in making the event happen.
What are your expectations for this edition of Alimentaria?
Our expectation is to replicate the 3,800 exhibitors and 140,000 visitors we had in 2012, something which is made possible by Alimentaria’s reputation as one of the foremost food and drink tradeshows in the world. It is already an unmissable event for professionals from all 5 continents, but we have also increased our budget for international promotions and we are confident of once again attracting 40,000 international buyers.
What are your plans to further develop Alimentaria?
Our future plans are focused on making certain changes that will see the show divided into 14 discrete areas. In all likelihood the new model will be focused on more strategic areas such as wine, meat, olive oil, foodservice and others. A model centred on activities such as The Alimentaria Hub, a dedicated space for innovation, trends and globalisation, and The Alimentaria experience, a space for demonstrations from today’s top chefs. We are creating a tradeshow-centred model that will become an example for the sector and will also act as an economic hub.
What key trends do you expect to shape food and drink innovation in 2014?
There are certain trends in food and drink, such as health and functional benefits, which are now translating into key product innovations. In The Alimentaria Hub 50 speakers will analyse some of these trends, adding great value for industry players looking to innovate and develop better products. Topics such as health and nutrition, brand building and new consumer behaviour will be covered, and more than 200 innovative products will be exhibited.
What should manufacturers do to be successful in the current economic climate?
Innovating, providing added value products and services and growing exports are indispensable for companies today. These three objectives are where we are focusing our value offer. Companies know that in Alimentaria they have a partner that can help them open up new markets, innovate and find business opportunities, and for this reason they will again invest in attending.