The first SIAL Paris took place in 1964 and among the 15 countries, the USA had the biggest pavilion. SIAL Paris attracts around 200 different countries and is the global trade platform for the food and beverage industry.
The USA is a very important partner for SIAL because in terms of US visitors and exhibitors, both areas are growing. In the last five years, US visitors to SIAL Paris have increased by 17% and US exhibitors have increased 8%.
At SIAL Paris, the US has a big booth within the National Pavilion section, but it also has a presence in other areas, including meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables and dairy, so visitors can see US producers all around the show.
How would you best describe the relationship between SIAL and the US food and drink sector?
Vancauwelaert says: “The global trade in the food and beverage industry is dominated by the US, the EU and China. The size of the food and beverage market in the US is worth €1.4 trillion, so it’s huge. The US is also the number one exporter and importer of food and beverage products. It’s also very important that the US has SIAL as a big platform for exporting its products.
“Although SIAL takes place in France, it’s an international show, with 60% of our participants coming from Europe.”
What space will be offered to the American contingent at SIAL Paris?
Vancauwelaert says: “SIAL Paris is taking place in October 2022 – we hope that normality will have returned by then after the Covid pandemic. We will welcome 120 American companies, which is comparable to what we had in the last session of SIAL Paris back in 2018. The US will have around 3,000 square metres.
“We will have two big players in the sector from the US, namely, the US Meat Export Federation and the US Poultry and Egg Export Council. These are two big co-operators, who have been very loyal to SIAL over the years.
“We also have the US Dry Bean Council on the fruit and vegetable side and Food Export USA Northwest – it’s interesting to see that we have regions, co-operators and private companies.”
Journo adds: “We expect to have the same number of exhibitors as we had in 2018, although we are targeting 120-150 exhibitors for SIAL Paris.”
Can you tell us more about the plans for America at SIAL Paris?
Journo says: “We are targeting organic products and we are working with the Organic Trade Association. It is very active in selling organic products abroad and we want to show that US companies are involved in the organic sector – the organic market in the US is the largest in the world, and people tend to forget about that.”
What has attracted you to working with and promoting SIAL Paris?
Journo says: “SIAL Paris is the largest retail show in the world in 2022. It’s not only a retail trade show, but it’s also a marketplace where exhibitors and buyers meet together. It’s very important as a marketplace to continue business – it’s not a one-shot trade show that happens once every two years, it’s a very important place where retail buyers and customers meet together to further develop business.
“SIAL Paris is one of the largest exhibitions attended by the US Department of Agriculture. With a reduced number of trade shows around the world, it places SIAL Paris at the top of the list.”
Vancauwelaert adds: “The first SIAL America, in Las Vegas, will take place in March 2022. We are so excited to go to the US market and to have a new show. We have been working very hard to launch it despite the pandemic.
“Between SIAL America in March 2022 and SIAL Paris in October 2022, SIAL is organising SIAL China, SIAL India, SIAL Indonesia and SIAL Canada.”
How did the global food and beverage industry perform during the pandemic?
Vancauwelaert says: “The markets did pretty well in terms of food and beverage product sales, but food service was down. However, if you combine the two figures, it’s still a growing market. With the number of people on the planet increasing, we will have to feed them.
“The pandemic affected everybody, but we have the chance to be in a growing market. I think it’s very important also to mention that people did business even through COVID.”
Journo adds: “In the US, it was very comparable to what happened in France and in Europe. The retail sector did well, but not the food service sector, but the situation also depended on the state, as it was different across the country.
“Food service was hit, but retail was good. The pandemic brought e-commerce to the fore. Click and Collect did very well and consumers were more focused on healthy foods, and tending to cook more at home. This was something that existed before Covid, but the trend has been accelerated during the pandemic.”
How else are you working with American businesses?
Journo says: “We have decided to use new technologies to promote SIAL Paris, even though the show had to be postponed to October 2022, we still wanted to give our US exhibitors a chance to be present.
“We created a platform for these exhibitors. It will be live until SIAL Paris in October 2022. It’s not only an online directory where we have listed all the US exhibitors, but any buyer can go to this platform and interact directly with the US exhibitors, and by doing so generate trade leads.”
He adds: “The goal for the future is to have this list of US exhibitors updated. In October 2022 we’ll have a list of new exhibitors and we will also recruit US exhibitors because they’ll have a presence online.
“By visiting this website, buyers can select the companies and products they are looking for. When going to SIAL Paris, they can meet face-to-face with people – a virtual platform is good, but is not a substitute for real life and real contact.”