SIAL Paris

By Linda Winick

More consumers around the world are going to the grocery store looking for good-tasting authentic food without excessive packaging. Those desires were reflected in “Taste, True and Meaning,” which was the theme of the 2018 edition of SIAL Paris, the global event dedicated to product innovation, that took place in October.  

“It is truly the global think-tank for the food industry – the international laboratory for food innovation in all its facets,” Nicolas Trentesaux, Director of the SIAL Network, enthused on the opening day of the exhibition. 

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A record attendance of more than 310,000 executives browsed among 7,200 exhibit stands from 119 countries. Over five days, the trade show promoted more than 400,000 products.

“All around the world, artisans and industrial manufacturers are alike are seeking to outdo each other with innovations for underpinning basic and raw pleasure, and for rediscovering taste that is natural and true,” said Xavier Terlet, founder and CEO of XTC World Innovation and the creator of the SIAL awards program for innovative products. “It’s about the original taste with nothing else added. This return to the ‘taste’ value of products is indicated by new claims such as ‘real taste” or “intense taste” that can be found increasingly in the on-package promotion.” 

One example is the new Bonne Maman line of “intense” fruit spreads from Andros Foods, headquartered in France with US operations in Virginia. 

Terlet said “true” food refers to products that are more authentic, more natural, healthier and safer. In many ways, that describes organic food, a standout in the exhibit halls. 

The organic channel continues to gain ground worldwide, according to statistics released at SIAL Paris:

  • Just under 50 per cent of European consumers are inclined to choose organic products.
  • In 2018, 66 per cent of Chinese consumers and 78 per cent of the citizens of Southeast Asia eat organic whenever they can.
  • In the Middle East, 66 per cent of consumers say they eat organic whenever possible, a trend that has greatly increased since 2012.

Whether it be organic or traditional food, consumers around the world agree that packaging is often a deciding factor when deciding to make a purchase. SIAL reported that 74% of consumers worldwide consider it “quite important” or “very important” to buy products with less or no packaging. Also, 72% are in favor of biodegradable packaging.

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Meanwhile, the exhibition offered a platform for “vegetal” or plant-based food and beverage, which is favored by vegetarians as well as a new category of consumers called “flexitarians.” They prefer vegetarian ingredients as their main dish without completely abandoning meat or fish, which they consume infrequently. This global trend is especially strong in Europe and China. In North America, obvious examples in the refrigerator case are plant milks such as soy, almond, hazelnut, coconut, and others.

Many products that reflect the latest trends in packaging, taste and authenticity were winners in the SIAL Innovation program. Here is a sampling:

  • Namaste Water Kefir, a vegan water kefir with fruits made by Kefir Namaste in Greece.
  • So Natural, a functional drink shot from GL SA in Portugal.
  • Kimchi Jam, a jam with fermented ingredients, from Miwami Co Ltd in Korea.
  • Be Kids, a freeze-dried fruit popsicle stick for children, from Betters International in USA.
  • Paren pesticide-free frozen vegetables in paper-based bag, from Rolli in Italy.

“Eating well is nowadays invariably considered synonymous with natural and balanced,” Terlet summed up.

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