Blog: Dean BestWill SIAL's first-day optimism run out of fuel?

Dean Best | 17 October 2010

The benefit of exhibiting at trade fairs, particularly in times of economic strife, is open to debate but, as this year's SIAL event kicked off in Paris today (17 October), there was a consensus that this is a show that still has a vital place on the food-industry calendar.

This year, the biennial exhibition is being held in the middle of severe industrial tension in France but, despite the impact that the strikes have had on transport links, visitor numbers seemed healthy - and exhibitors were certain about the value of the event.

Alpro, the Belgium-based soy-foods group that is now part of US dairy Dean Foods, sees events like SIAL as key to opening new markets - and cementing business relationships already in place.

"It's really about looking for new partnerships in countries where we're not represented yet and meeting with partners who we don't have the opportunity to get to see," Alpro's Catherine Arnou said.

Of course, events like SIAL act as a shop window for new products and Alpro today showed just-food two products it plans to launch internationally next year.

Elsewhere, the chief executive of frozen-food group PinguinLutosa, fresh from securing the company's proposed acquisition of the frozen-vegetable business of French food co-operative CECAB, said he did not share the misgivings that other in the food industry have about trade shows.

"You can see the participation of frozen food here," PinguinLutosa CEO Herwig Dejonghe said. "The degree of companies in our kind of business who are present is big. They are as good as all here." (You can read more of just-food's interview with Dejonghe, where he discusses the CECAB deal and the broader frozen-food sector later this week).

From frozen food to frozen queues and, as expected, the ongoing industrial action and its impact on transport in France right now did have an effect on the show today - in the form of a monster queue for taxis once the show closed - alongside the usual crush for the local RER station.

just-food decided to not to queue immediately and went for a bite to eat but, once safely inside a cab later in the evening, was told by the driver: "There are no taxis. There is no fuel. C'est une catastrophe!"

Perhaps the first day's optimism about the days ahead at SIAL could wane as we move through the week.


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