Blog: Dean BestLatest India food expo sets out stall

Dean Best | 1 December 2009

After yesterday's (30 November) gloomy missive, some good news: the latest economic figures out of India show that, in September, the country's economy grew at its fastest rate for 18 months.

Inevitably, as with some of the world's other major economies, growth was boosted by a fiscal stimulus programme but there were some healthy underlying signs for the Indian economy, with auto sales on the rise, a recent fall in exports slowing and continued growth in industrial output.

Some economists, however, have pointed to a slowing in the growth in manunfacturing activity as a cause for concern. Food inflation is also an issue, with prices up almost 16% in the year to the middle of November as adverse weather conditions hit supply.

With the economy a talking point in India, and the food sector a hot topic within that, this week's International Food & Drink Expo India (IFDE) show in New Delhi seems perfectly timed.

2009 is the first year of the event, which is running from 2-4 December. The show has attracted exhibitors from the US, Europe and Australia, as well as from across India, all seeking to showcase their products to buyers in the country's burgeoning retail and hospitality sectors.

IFDE project director Andrew Furness says the interest in the event has been international. "We've been getting pre-registrations from the [local] retailing sector and we are getting a few curious pre-registrations from international retailers, perhaps looking to combine a trip in India to the event and to see the state of play down there," he reveals.

To launch an event in the teeth of a global recession (no matter how resilient the Indian economy has been compared to others around the world) is an ambitious move. To introduce another exhibition into India, scene of a growing number of events, even more so.

However, Furness believes IFDE has the credentials to attract the right people and also carve a space in India's food industry landscape.

"The headline figures in India, in these sectors, would suggest that there is plenty of scope for events - particularly as the market is quite regionalised," Furness says. "We are seeing established events in New Delhi, Mumbai, which have been existing for a number of years."

Furness acknowledges, however, that the pace of any global economic recovery will be the deciding factor in the success of his and other events in India.

"The global economic circumstances have put pressure on the international supplying community, and although they are very aware that India is a market of huge potential, their budgets are limited. Quite often, they will be retrenching into their core markets to protect those, rather than being a little bit more speculative over new markets in places such as India, the rest of Asia and Latin America."

Furness adds: "We would like this to be an annual event until the market tells us otherwise. We have a great opportunity to allow this event to be shaped by the feedback we get from the marketplace. We feel we've got a great opportunity with this event to put a firm marker down and become one of the must-do events in India."


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