Brussels recap: A successful three days


Steven Hedlund

Published on
April 29, 2012

The 20th edition of the European Seafood Exposition is now a memory. All indications are that this year’s event was a successful one, despite Europe’s not-so-favorable economy.

“Given the soft economy, we didn’t know what to expect,” admitted Mary Larkin, VP of seafood expositions for event organizer Diversified Business Communications, as the three-day event drew to a close on Thursday. But, as it turned out, “the show itself was so strong and people did a lot of business, and it’s been very positive,” she said.

For the SeafoodSource editorial team, it was also a very positive experience. Thanks to everyone who contributed to SeafoodSource’s wall-to-wall coverage of the three-day event, and thanks to our readers for following us as we scoured the show floor for news. So here’s one final look at the highlights:  

• The European Seafood Exposition celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. “When the show started in 1993, it was in half of Hall 5, it had 300 exhibitors and about 5,000 visitors,” said Larkin. Now we have over 1,600 exhibitors, pavilions from over 80 countries and 25,000 attendees. So there’s a loyal following there. The show has really grown — it’s 10 times the size it was in 1993.” 

• Easily one of the biggest draws year in and year out is the Seafood Prix d’Elite new products competition. This year’s grand-prize winners — Kaviari’s en-K de caviar® and Prins & Dingemanse’s Zeeuwse Creuse Caresse — were recognized by the judges for their originality and quality, respectively. Winning the competition “supports our development work for making oysters more acceptable for our customer base,” Jan-Kees Marcus, director of Prins & Dingemanse in the Netherlands, told SeafoodSource soon after accepting the award. “This oyster is a very well balanced oyster. It’s allowed people to eat oysters whereas sometimes they just don’t like oysters because they’re too salty.”

• Before the Seafood Prix d’Elite winners were unveiled on Tuesday, SeafoodSource Assistant Editor April Forristall gave an exclusive, behind-the-scenes account of the judging process, which she compared to “speed dating for seafood.” If you’re thinking about entering a new product in next year’s competition, this is a must read.

• One of the major themes at this year’s European Seafood Exposition was the number of exhibitors with new packaging on display, and it appears that the seafood trade is finally beginning to embrace packaging innovation. I highlighted five exhibitors — The Saucy Fish Co., King Oscar, Mer Alliance, Kaviari and DGM Shipping — in a video blog titled “Time has come for packaging innovation.”

• Norway usually has a strong presence at the European Seafood Exposition, and this year was no exception. On Tuesday, the Norwegian Seafood Federation unveiled a new seafood identification system placing all Norwegian seafood under one traceability label, while Petter Ustad, sector manager-seafood at Innovation Norway, talked about how market orientation is at the heart of his organization’s strategy to boost the country’s seafood exports in an interview with SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Lindsey Partos.

• Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the fifth and current president of Iceland, was among the guests of honor at this year’s European Seafood Exposition. Actually, he’s the first even president to attend the event. At a luncheon on Tuesday, President Grímsson talked about Iceland’s commitment to sustainable fisheries and about the bond Iceland shares with Alaska. “Without the creation of sustainable fisheries or the extension of Iceland’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Republic would not have survived,” he said. “And it’s one of the main reasons why Iceland came out of the banking crisis of 2008.”

• Once again, Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform was a hot topic at the European Seafood Exposition. In an exclusive on-camera interview with SeafoodSource, EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki talks about her hope that her CFP reform proposals will stay mainly intact when the policy is finalized next year.

• SeafoodSource also caught up with Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s secretary of rural affairs and the environment, who in an on-camera interview talked about Scottish salmon exports’ growth potential and the ongoing mackerel standoff that’s hurting the region’s mackerel fishermen.

• Searching for a roundup of each of the three days of the show? Then check out our blogs. Click here for my Day 1 blog, here for April’s Day 2 blog and here for her Day 3 blog.

Next year’s European Seafood Exposition takes place in Brussels from 23 to 25 April.

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