By Lorrie Baumann
The Alimentaria Hub, part of the next edition of Alimentaria, which takes place on April 25-28, 2016 at Fira de Barcelona, will be one of the most strategic spaces for fostering innovation, business collaboration, competitiveness and the dissemination of knowledge in the food sector. The activities at the show will be based around six core themes: distribution and retail, CSR, internationalization, R&D&I and branding, nutrition, and marketing and communication. There will be new product launches as well as conferences, presentations and consumer trend analyses. The show will also include a center for business meetings and export opportunities and networking sessions to foster entrepreneurship.
Alimentaria expects to attract more than 5,000 North American trade professionals to Barcelona this April. For 2016, Alimentaria will be structured into five shows, encompassing the main food and drinks markets: Intervin (wines and spirits), Intercarn (meat and meat products), Restaurama (foodservice products), Interlact (milk and dairy products) and Multiple Foods (all kinds of confectionery, preserves, oils and premium products).
While most of the show’s exhibitors are Spanish companies, the United States is a strategic market for them. In response, the show – one of the largest European food shows – is going all out to attract more representation from North America, including hosting 800 international buyers, which includes those from the U.S. Part or all of the travel expenses will be paid for those hosted buyers, who must agree in return to have 10 to 12 business meetings with exhibitors, and the show’s management will organize those appointments, said Meritxell Puig, Director of International Expansion for Alimentaria Exhibitions.
The show attracts about 140,000 attendees to see the wares of about 4,800 exhibitors, of which 70 percent are from Spain. The thousand or so exhibitors from outside Spain represent 63 countries. Puig noted that the show’s managers are particularly looking for American importers, distributors and brokers to attend as well as representatives from large chain specialty retailers. Puig expects that the products to be seen at this year’s show will include a great variety of functional foods, products that correspond to gastronomic trends, healthier options and authentic traditional foods.
The show will also feature the Alimentaria Hub, a 4,500 square meter space at the center of the show that’s devoted to innovative products as well as a business meeting space and the conference sessions. Many of the sessions will be conducted in English, according to Puig. “If you want to export, you have to speak English,” she said.
The educational activities will include an entire seminar on reaching the halal market, which is growing rapidly in Europe, with more countries sourcing food from abroad to bring in for Muslim customers. Meanwhile, Spanish producers are racing to get halal certification for their compliant products so they can sell into that market in countries that include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, all of which have significant Muslim populations, Puig said.
The Alimentaria Hub will play a key role in encouraging companies to internationalize their business thanks to the opening of the Export Service Counter, a service for exhibitors who want to venture into foreign markets for the first time. This new program involves experts in all the formalities necessary to take these first steps in reaching foreign markets, from insurance companies and consultancy firms to chambers of commerce and financial institutions.