With an estimated 400,000 products on display at SIAL Paris this week, there truly was something to appeal to all tastes and diets.
The biennial global gathering had more than 7,000 exhibiting companies from 109 countries, and attracted some 160,000 food industry professionals over its five-day run (Oct. 21-25). Nicolas Trentesaux, SIAL network general director, likened the show to 100 supermarkets pushed together while also being the world's largest restaurant.
Innovation was everywhere (SIAL touts itself as the "world's largest food innovation exhibition") on the sprawling show floor, which filled eight large halls. A highlight of the event, the SIAL Innovation Awards recognized some of the best new products from around the globe, which included a kefir water from Greece, frozen vegetables packed in a paper, biodegradable bag from Italy and a kimchi jam from Korea.
Among the bigger trends that emerged at the show were products aimed at the health-minded consumer. Scores of products featured trendy ingredients with a health-halo including activated charcoal, which appeared in everything from nutritional beverage "shots" to Dilano Black Lemon cheese from the Netherlands. Spirulina, a blue-green microalgea touted for its health benefits, was another hot ingredient appearing in cookies, drinks and puffed snacks. There were also more than a few apple cider vinegar drinks on offer.
With the soaring popularity of plant-based foods, it was no surprise to see so many being served up at SIAL. The Beyond Meat booth was busy with attendees seeking to get a taste of The Beyond Burger; the plant-based burger that has proven so popular that the company is ramping up production (restaurant chain A&W temporarily ran out of it this past summer).
"A return to taste" was also identified by organizers as a trend of the show with companies such as French company Bonne Maman showing its Intense Fruit Spreads, described as a "fruit forward" product. There was no shortage of indulgent items either. One hall was dedicated to gourmet products and there was plenty of confectionery and pastry items being showcased as well as frozen treats from alcohol-based cocktail sorbets in a freezie-like format to gelatos. Mochi—the increasingly popular frozen dessert wrapped in a sweet rice dough—made more than a few appearances including Bubbies Mochi (winner of a 2018 Sofi award) from the United States.
Other innovations that stood out were new Coffee Bags, which work just like a tea bag, from the U.K.'s Taylors of Harrogate and a compact kit from Belgium called Archi-duc that lets consumers grow their own mushrooms at home.
Again at this year's show a number of national pavilions were present. About 40 companies made up Canada's pavilion including Canada Beef, Voortmans cookies (showcasing its new sugar-free lines), maple products from Jakeman's and Citadelle, and Daiya Foods was presenting its vegan lines, including a new Coffee Espresso frozen treat.
In addition to all the products on display, other highlights of the show included a new Future Lab—designed to look at tomorrow's food trends. The "lab" included an immersive video experience on what food might look like in 2030, a virtual reality component, as well as a space for about 40 startup companies to pitch their products to buyers. Also new to this edition of the show was an Alter'Native Food Forum that addressed things such as clean-label and superfoods as well as sustainable production and animal welfare.
SIAL Paris returns in two years, but Canadians won’t have to wait that long. SIAL Canada is set to take place in Toronto in 2019, running April 30 to May 2.