MONTREAL — Montreal’s Palais des Congrès was overflowing with innovation last week during the annual SIAL Canada show, which featured more than 750 exhibitors from 43 countries.
“We are the only international show [hosting] 43 countries in Canada. This is huge, because, according to the evolution of the Canadian population, within 20 to 30 years, the way we consume [food] will be completely different because of immigration,” said Xavier Poncin, show director.
Largely a retail-focused show, the expo featured coffee, olive oils, packaged treats, frozen desserts and alcohol from countries such as Brazil, Italy, Jordan, Mexico and Poland. The annual SIAL Innovation Awards returned this year, with the 10 winning products on display at the SIAL Innovation booth. Products included herbal tea, hot sauce, fruit preserve, frozen duck and gourmet desserts, chosen for creativity in recipes, packaging and manufacturing processes.
But, while innovation was front and centre, conversations invariably led to sustainability, a topic discussed at length during a panel discussion moderated by Peter Henderson, founder and manager director of the Toronto-based Ideovation consultancy. The panel united leaders from the fair trade, organic and climate sectors.
“Transparency is important” when it comes to innovation, said Isabelle Marquis, marketing director, Retail and Foodservice for the Quebec-based bakery company Première Moisson. “Social media is very fast in sending the ball back to you,” she added. The panel also squashed misconceptions that sustainable innovation costs more. Bertrand Derome, CEO of the Montreal-based Institute of Product Development, gave an example of a 2013 study of 119 companies that offered an eco-friendly product; it found 96 per cent saw increased or stable profits.
Next year’s show will be held in Toronto from April 28 to 30.