Brussels is around the corner
The world's largest seafood trade show opens in just over two weeks. Seafood buyers and sellers from around the globe will descend upon Brussels, Belgium, on 28 April for the 17th annual European Seafood Exposition, co-located with Seafood Processing Europe.
The show runs through 30 April; show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday.
The European Seafood Exposition takes place in halls 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 of the Brussels Exhibition Grounds (Parc des Expositions de Bruxelles), while Seafood Processing Europe is held concurrently in halls 4 and 8. Hall 8 also features a beer garden this year.
This year's event commands more than 33,500 square meters of exhibit space, said Mary Larkin, VP of seafood expositions for show organizer Diversified Business Communications of Portland, Maine, which also publishes SeafoodSource.com.
At the end of March, more than 1,700 companies and organizations were signed on to exhibit at this year's show - about 1,500 exhibitors at the European Seafood Exposition and 214 exhibitors at Seafood Processing Europe, which is up 5 percent from last year, said Larkin.
Exhibiting at this year's event are nearly 80 countries, as well as 67 country and regional pavilions. Russia, Oman, Mauritius and Sri Lanka are among the pavilions new to the 2009 show.
Given the challenging economic climate worldwide, it's an essential year for both exhibitors and visitors to attend the event, said Larkin.
"Face-to-face meetings are as important as ever," she said. "People want to compare notes. They want to know how to operate more efficiently and how to do things differently."
In addition to the economy, sustainability is a hot topic, added Larkin. This year's show features two discussions about the importance of sourcing seafood from well-managed and sustainable fisheries and environmentally and socially responsible fish farms.
"Sustainability of the European Seafood Industry" will focus on the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy, which will be launched in late April. The discussion will be held in Hall 7, Auditorium 500 from 9 to 11 a.m. on 29 April.
"Are Certification Costs too High for Seafood Producers?" will focus on minimizing the added cost of ensuring that seafood meets global sustainability and food-safety standards. The discussion will be held in Hall 7, Auditorium 500 from 9 to 11 a.m. on 30 April.
Perhaps the highlight of the show is the ninth annual Seafood Prix d'Elite new products competition. The winners will be selected among 36 finalists and announced during a reception and awards ceremony in Auditorium 2000 from 6:15 to 8 p.m. on 28 April. In addition to the two grand prizes for the best new retail and foodservice products, five special awards will be presented for seafood product line, convenience, packaging, originality, and health and nutrition.
Last year, Stuehrk Delikatessen Import GmbH & Co. of Marne, Germany, captured the best new retail product for its Bear Biter, a line of Alaska sockeye salmon strips dry slated by hand, traditionally cold smoked and marinated in a variety of flavors. Royal Greenland of Aalborg, Denmark, took the best new foodservice product for its Salmon Tournedos, Atlantic salmon portions wrapped in Danish bacon.
This year, the finalists represent 22 companies from 11 countries and four continents.