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What were the top trends at SIAL Paris?

The gigantic biennial food and beverage exhibition, SIAL, held in Paris this year from Oct. 16 to 20 was declared by the organizers an “unqualified success” with more than 7,000 exhibitors from more than 104 countries on the exhibition grounds which are as large as 100 large supermarkets.

The exhibition bills itself as the world’s largest food innovation exhibition. It was visited this year by nearly 160,000 professionals, and was 10% larger than the SIAL of two years ago.

On the exhibit floor, the predominant themes were health and wellness, organic and “free-from” products aimed at alleviating the symptoms of certain health issues such celiac disease. “Free from” means products free from lactose, free from gluten, free from salt and sugar, etc.

In addition to the thousands of products on display, there were 130 seminars and about 100 special events aimed at informing attendees about trends and techniques in the food industry including cooking demonstrations and a bartender competition.

Among the seminars were: The Flexitarian Effect (about people who avoid meat at least once a week), Together Against Food Waste, Microalgaes—Innovative Ingredients, Organics A Huge Trend, The Future of Packaging, and Natural—A Trendy but Dangerous Claim.

Quinoa appeared to be the big star among the many products, with dozens of countries offering quinoa and quinoa-based products. For example: Lifebars from the Czech Republic with blueberry, quinoa, acai and banana; Quinoa with Fruit in jars from Peru; cooked Quinoa in cans from Spain; Quinoa in a hermetic pouch from Luxembourg; Quinoa based soups and cooked Quinoa in microwavable cups both from Spain, and easy cooking Quinoa in a bag from France.

The second most common product ingredient was coconut including Roasted Coconut Bar from Thailand; Coconut Wraps, liquid Coconut Oil and Coconut Vegan Mayo all from the Philippines, and Coconut Infused Instant Coffee from the U.K. Canada’s Real Coconut Whipped Cream from Gay Lea Foods was represented on a large panel at the World Tour by SIAL Awards section.

The World Tour by SIAL is a competition among 28 countries, including Canada, for an award for a product representing a major trend in each country. There were two winners announced during SIAL: Ugly Cereals by Carrefour at Les Gueules Cassees (remnants of manufacturer’s discarded broken cereal packaged in a plain box and sold at a massive discount) from France, and DiaBalance by Calidad Pascal, a nutraceutical drink for diabetics from Spain.

Some of the more curious products from the exhibition floor were: Chesa, a cake mix in a cup that requires one egg and water and microwaves in five minutes from Indonesia; Genuine Coconut, organic coconut water in a coconut shell with an easy-opening cap from Spain; Veal Chips in crunchy breadcrumbs from The Netherlands; Camembert Doughnuts from the Czech Republic; Winebeer, made with sparkling wine and beer, from Chile, Magic Tartes, a chocolate tart with a drawing on top which will move to music when scanned with a smartphone, and Omelette a la Truffle, a ready to cook omelette with mushroom in an easy pour pouch from France. And there were chicken buckwheat burgers from the Ukraine, duck burgers and pork burgers from France, and veal burgers from Belgium.

There were dozens of vegan and organic foods and drinks, and an equal number of gluten-free products.

There was something for everyone at this year’s SIAL. The 160,000 visitors could shop the world in five days in the eight buildings that comprise the SIAL exhibition.

SIAL Paris returns in two years, but there is a smaller SIAL exhibition in Toronto May 2 to 4, 2017. See what the world has to offer.

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