SIAL Boasted Wide Appeal

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MONTREAL — Innovation was the order of the day at the third edition of the SIAL show, which began April 21 and wrapped up Friday at Le Palais des Congres in Montreal, attracting more than 12,500 visitors and 545 exhibitors from 37 different countries and eight Canadian provinces.

The international food show got a makeover this year with the launch of SET, a mini equipment tradeshow, within the larger international food component, dedicated to food retail and foodservice. Boasting equipment for the retail and foodservice sectors, the addition received rave reviews from those in attendance, although food continued to be the primary focus of this international marketplace.

Attendees were treated to an explosion of new food products and flavours from around the world showcased in bold and brilliant booths. The 10 product finalists of the 2010 Trends & Innovations Awards were a show highlight. Standouts included ginger maple butter from Citadelle Maple Syrup Producers and basil ice cream from Monsieur Basillic. But, it was the Montreal-based Solo Fruit Inc. who came out on top, earning the top prize for its 100 per cent fruit sorbets made from natural ingredients. The top 10 finalists were chosen by a group of industry experts, while the grand prize winner was picked by a group of hotel and restaurant management students from Institut du Tourisme et de l’Hôtellerie du Québec. The winning Solo product will be showcased at SIAL Paris in October 2010.

In addition to tasting a bevy of new products and flavours, visitors were also treated to a new cooking salon featuring several of Quebec’s best chefs, including Francois Blais from Panache restaurant in the Auberge St. Antoine and Laurent Godbout, Chez l’Epicier, Montreal.

The learning continued in the Agora Room where up to 10 seminars were held daily as part of the “Eaters Under the Influence” lecture series, addressing the theme “feed me.” Many of the seminars focused on sustainability, including one led by Naya Canada on the viability of bottled waters. “Naya is a company on the crusade,” said Sean Surkis, vice-president, Sales & Marketing of Naya Canada, referring to a company mandate to become more sustainable in the face of changing consumer attitudes. “We’ve been able to increase our market share from 23 per cent to 35. We turned the market around because of our initiatives,” he said, pointing to Naya’s 100 per cent recycled plastic bottle. “We’re trying to go much further,” he added.

Next year more innovation is promised as SIAL moves to Toronto as part of a new rotation between English and French Canada, whereby Montreal will host the show in even years — Toronto will host in odd years. According to Xavier Terlet of the show organizer’s XTC World Innovation, “The decision was made because Toronto is the economic capital of Canada. It’s also the fifth largest city in North America, with the GTA representing 53 per cent of Ontario’s population.”

Next year’s show will have a new section called SET Process; it will focus on the food processing sector.   

SIAL Canada was founded in 2001 as a biannual exhibition, it became an annual event in 2007.

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