Europe’s food trade on the rebound


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
October 24, 2010

Editor’s note: SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Lindsey Partos attended last week’s SIAL international food and beverage exhibition in Paris.

The globalization of food exchanges and the dynamism of innovation have helped Europe’s food companies beat the economic downturn.

According to Valerie Lobry, managing director of SIAL, both elements were clearly visible at last week’s five-day international food and beverage exhibition in Paris, which concluded on Thursday.

“There have been very good signs of recovery in the global food business over the past few months,” she said on Thursday.

While a dip in innovation marked the emergence of an economic crisis at the last SIAL in 2008, 2010 has witnessed a resurgence in innovation, Lobry explained to SeafoodSource during the event.

She said most of the innovations at this year’s show actually kicked off in 2010, with companies “waiting to launch their new products [until] the right time to market their innovations.” But the leitmotiv for new product development is added-value.

“In 2009 consumers didn’t want to pay a lot; [it was a] time of discounts and low prices,” said Lobry. “Now they’re ready to pay a little more, but they want value for money.”

In addition, food manufacturers and foodservice providers need to ensure any locked-in added-benefits are totally clear to the consumer.

“The information part must be clear and transparent,” with the potential shopper clearly “aware of the benefit,” underlined Lobry.

Of the 120,000 visitors and 5,000 exhibitors participating in SIAL, there were 78 exhibitors from the seafood sector, according to Lobry. “But I’m sure you can triple this figure if you include preserved, frozen and also the grocery sector,” she added.

SIAL, launched 50 years ago as a showcase for French food companies, had a Franco-centric feel in terms of seafood at this year’s event. Nearly one-third of the seafood exhibitors hailed from France. In 2009, the French food industry recorded EUR 139 billion in annual turnover, with fresh fish contributing EUR 1.6 billion, followed by shellfish and other seafood products at EUR 740 million and seafood delicatessen products at EUR 1.9 million.

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