Gama spoke to Nicolas Trentesaux, Group Director, SIAL, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the show this October.
What are your day to day activities?
Well, it is certainly a busy life with teams to manage not only in Paris but also across the world, now that we have 10 different shows from America (north and south) to the Middle East, from China to the Phillipines and Indonesia. This requires lots of travelling but also lots of strategic planning in order to offer a comprehensive portfolio of shows to enable our exhibitors to develop their export business. We also take the opportunity of all this travelling to understand the trends in the different markets and to track the latest innovations.
How many people work in the organisation before and after the fair?
The core team working for SIAL is made up of around 100 employees, half within the central team based in Paris, and the other half spread across the world. The team gets much bigger on site when we add in hostesses, security and so on. This represents around 500 people altogether at SIAL Paris because of the size of the show (as big as 50 hypermarkets or 240,000 sq m). The core functions are sales, communication / events and logistics.
What are your expectations for this edition of SIAL?
This is going to be the biggest show ever and many new records will be set:
- 10% growth vs 2012 and more than 6,300 exhibitors attending from 105 countries
- 1,700 innovations presented within the SIAL Innovation contest
- Over 150,000 professional visitors expected
Furthermore, we have created an edition that is more ambitious and more complete, as it integrates a new section called “Equipment, Technologies and Services”. Professionals in the sector appreciate the specialised business we can bring them, and we have met their expectations.
We are also going to give more visibility to fresh products, through enhanced focus on the fruit and vegetable sector. Meanwhile visitors and exhibitors will discover plenty of entertainment to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SIAL. Also new is the World Tour by SIAL. We have asked 28 journalists from all over the world to come and highlight the main consumption trends in their countries. SIAL Paris is going to be bigger this year as a direct consequence of all these new topics.
Also, every industry professional will be there to celebrate 50 years of SIAL Paris! Included in the main on-site activities is the “50 years” day, when, late in the afternoon on Monday 20th October, a huge birthday party will be held on the esplanade! For this occasion, SIAL invites all of our exhibitors to join in the celebration by offering visitors cocktails and events on their stands after 5:30pm. The evening will continue at 7pm with a captivating show at the very heart of the fair, on the central esplanade.
What are your plans to further develop SIAL?
Over the years, SIAL has become a brand: a unique relational experience in the agribusiness world.
Thanks to its universality, the concept has been exported to many regions of the world: North America, Latin America, the Middle East, China, South East Asia and for the first time in November 2015, SIAL InterFOOD in Jakarta, our new food fair joining the SIAL Group network.
The next 10 years will certainly offer opportunities for new shows in countries where we have identified the most dynamic food markets, in order to create new business opportunities for our clients – Asia and Africa will most probably be our main targets. Trend spotting and Innovation will always be part of our DNA.
What should manufacturers do to be successful in the current economic climate?
Innovation is the most reliable and valuable of all economic predictors. More than ever, innovation will be the catalyst for growth for successful companies taking on this challenge. Faced with a dramatic acceleration in consumer needs, innovation stands out as the pivotal strategic focus for maintaining and developing the competitiveness of our food companies.
Successful innovation strategies do not appear out of thin air. It takes a genuine spirit of openness, active listening and smart thinking to understand and anticipate consumer expectations across the world. Only then can companies forge their own vision and create added value in a highly competitive environment.
What key trends do you expect to shape food and drink innovation in 2014?
As shown by a recent study, two dynamics seem to be simultaneously at play across on all of the continents. On the one hand, global innovation is not always topical – indeed, the overriding rule is to adapt to continental, national and sometimes even local expectations. On the other hand, the notion of pleasure remains paramount, wherever you are in the world.
While all of the continents share these two trends, there are some differences, however:
North America and Latin America: Appealing to the senses is clearly all the rage; innovation lies in enabling consumers to discover new tastes and flavours. It should be noted that Latin America is the region with the most ‘slimming’ innovations… you could perhaps say that it is a ‘heavy’ trend!
Asia: In Asia ‘appealing to the senses’ also tops the bill with almost half of all innovations based on this trend. It is the region that places the greatest emphasis on this concept.
Middle East: In this part of the world products are Western-inspired. The tendency is for innovations focusing on pleasure, health and convenience. In other words, three trends in one!
Europe: On the ‘old continent’, pleasure takes the form of ‘ready-to eat’. Many innovations are those that require no or little preparation, in order to adapt to the nomadic behaviour of consumers. However ‘ready-to-eat’ is not a synonym for ‘lower quality’. Quite the contrary: these innovations are inspired by the varied and sophisticated nature of food models in most European countries.