Despite the show having one less day and the general strike on 29th of March, the number of visitors increased by 1.4% in cpmparison to the last edition.
International attendance reached 40,000 visitors – 29% of the total and 11%
more than in 2010.
It is also worth mentioning the significant participation from Asia, headed by Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore and India.
Barcelona, 3rd April 2012. Alimentaria 2012 closed its doors on 29th of March following four days of intensive trade fair activity in Fira's Gran Vía venue in Barcelona (Spain). Provisional figures show that the show has brought together 142,000 professionals and close to 4,000 exhibiting companies – figures that are particularly pertinent given the current crisis, proving the strength of the food industry as a clear driving force behind the recovery of the Spanish economy.
Just two hours from the conclusion of the Show (Thursday 29th at 19.00 hours) 142,000 professionals had visited Alimentaria 2012 since last Monday, exceeding all expectations from the organisers of Alimentaria Exhibitions, the joint venture between Fira de Barcelona and Reed Exhibitions. All records have also been broken, with 40,000 professional visitors attending from 60 countries – 11% more than the last edition of Alimentaria in 2010.
Following an intensive week of trade fair activity at Fira's Gran Vía venue in Barcelona, Alimentaria has once again reaffirmed not only its status as a benchmark Spanish event for the agri-frood industry, but also its position among the three most important food trade fairs in the world.
What's more, Alimentaria has stood out because of the quantity and quality of the professionals attending the event, which emphasises and confirms the strength of the food industry. In the words of its chairman, Josep-LLuís Bonet, “it is dealing with the crisis positively and is highly important, economically, to the present and future of the country”. In fact, one of the constants of the 19th edition of Alimentaria - greater visibility and recognition of the food industry as an economic driving force - has been vindicated. It is an industry only bettered by the tourism industry in terms of contributions to the national GDP (7.6%), with production of over €80.7 billion and an increase of 11% in exports during 2011, according to data from FIAB, the Spanish acronym for the Spanish Food Industry Food and Drink Federation.
Josep Antoni Valls, Director of Alimentaria and Deputy Managing Director of Alimentaria Exhibitions, the trade fair's organising company, has stressed how the food industry is “a cornerstone of the economy and progress and is fully committed to health, sustainability, employment, the economy, social cohesion, culture, innovation, the countryside and Spanish brands”.
Alimentaria 2012 is testimony to the high quality of the food industry, and, as highlighted by Valls, the show has gone to great lengths to, “project an impeccable image with a huge will to progress”.
Internationalisation is one of Alimentaria's core values and represents one of the only platforms for the promotion and foreign exposure of SMEs, which make up 96% of the industry.
To boost international business, Alimentaria has set up more than 8,000 meetings between Spanish companies and importers from around the world and has invited around 500 professionals to join FIAB, ICEX (the Spanish acronym for the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade), AMEC (Spanish acronym for the Multi-sector Business Association), ACC1Ó (a Catalan autonomous community government agency for the promotion of Catalan companies abroad) and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. Noteworthy attendees at these bilateral meetings have included, among others, representatives from Walmart (Argentina), Pao de Açucar, (Brazil), H-E-B and Palacio del Hierro (Mexico), Pomobel (Angola), Azbuka Vskuza (Russia), Meijer, H-E-B Group and Central Market (USA), Spar and Hyper City (India), Park’n Shop, City Super and Cofco (China), Shinshegae (Korea), Ace and Zas (Japan) and Central Foods and Makro (Thailand). Some of the companies that have used these contacts to open up new markets are: Cadademont, Gullón, Maheso, Borges, Miguel Torrres, Ortiz, Aljomar, Joselito and Cinco Jotas, among others.
Out of the 4,000 or so exhibiting companies at Alimentaria, 1,300 (32%) were from abroad, from 75 countries that included Thailand, Dubai, Sweden and Japan, all participating for the first time, China, which has doubled its space allocation, Indonesia, India, Iran, Brazil, Chile, the USA and practically all EU countries. The growth of Asian participation has also been noticeable and confirms the interest in the continent by Spanish gastronomy.
At Alimentaria 2012 Mexico has been the first to gain the distinction of Guest Country with its 40 exhibitors and dynamic activities related to gastronomy from the Aztec country.
Food, Tourism and Gastronomy
Besides being a platform for commerce, contacts and business opportunities, Alimentaria 2012 has also conveyed the vitality of Spanish gastronomy and its close ties to the food and tourism industries. According to data from FIAB, the consumption of Spanish food products in tourists' countries of origin after they have visited Spain has increased by 40%, especially in wine, Serrano ham and olive oil. This clearly shows that the food industry must be a great ally of the tourism industry and take advantage of the opportunity that arises from the annual visit of 57 million tourists. This is also strongly linked to exports, in which the food industry has huge potential and is one of the only industries with a positive balance of trade. FIAB forecasts that exports will register an inter-annual growth of 15.9% during the first six months of 2012, with an estimated value of 10.3 billion euros.
This is what led the Minister of Agriculture, Miguel Arias Cañete, to announce at Alimentaria that the Government is proposing to redesign its international food promotion policy this term and strengthen the trinomial of food, tourism and gastronomy to “unify common policies in the Autonomous Communities” and in the near future activate a “national defence strategy for an industry that patents and innovates the most”.
The Alimentaria activities that have enabled the best Spanish gastronomy and the present and future trends in catering to be produced have been: the BCNVanguardia International Gastronomy Conference, focusing on the programme of integration and innovation in catering businesses, the Taste & Flavours with the Gourmet Olive Oil Bar, the ‘Ibérico en Compañía' Restaurant and the Vinorum tastings, the gran finale of the IV Chef of the Year Competition, Spain, the Land of 100 Cheeses, the new Food Experience space, Markets & Trends, with workshops, talks and demonstrations on making and preserving pre-prepared food and ready-made meals as well as international gastronomy cultures.
More value in the Alimentaria Hub
One of the big innovations at Alimentaria 2012 was The Alimentaria Hub space – a centre joining all those trade fair's activities looking to strengthen the innovative and multi-dimensional nature of their industry and identify business opportunities. With support from Nestlé, BBVA, AZTI-Tecnalia, AECOC, Santiveri, APPLUS+, IRTA, FIAB, The Triptolemos Foundation, The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, ICEX, Grupo GP, and the Generalitat de Catalunya, The Alimentaria Hub was host to diverse activities, conferences and exhibitions on RDI, nutrition, globalisation, marketing and corporate social responsibility, among others. Other events that reaped high participation rewards were the International Congress of the Mediterranean Diet, Innoval, the Best Pack Awards, FIAB's Transfer Conferences on RDI, the I Nestlé Creating Shared Value Forum, the FIAB Business Meetings, AMEC, ACC1Ó, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce as well as the Mundidulce and Olivaria Business Meetings.
During the course of this week Alimentaria has presented the latest industry innovations – from ice-creams, mussels, fried corn snacks and Catalan sausage to rose tequila, rosemary beer, water with caffeine, cured meats with nuts, right through to canned ecological paella, Spanish nougat coated in edible gold, chicken popcorn, powdered vegetable teas and tuna sausages. Although over 1,700 journalists registered to cover the event, not all of the reporting was carried out in person. The social network Twitter has been a huge platform for commenting on the show, with more than 30 million impressions; 3,500 tweeters have posted more than 13,000 tweets about Alimentaria 2012.
The Fundació Bancs dels Aliments predicts that there will be 30 tonnes of waste products collected, 50% more than at the previous edition of the show, with 80% of the Alimentaria exhibitors collaborating with the Foundation. According to the NGO, this quantity can be turned into 120,000 meals and given to diverse charity organisations. Some 120 volunteers will be helping with this collection.
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