Mark O’Loughlin, Madrid Office, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
Alimentaria is the biggest fair in the Spanish agri-food space and one of the industry’s most important worldwide. The event took place in Barcelona from the 16th to the 19th of April and figures show that footfall to the event has returned to pre-recession levels. This year there were 4,500 exhibiting companies from 70 countries, 150,000 visitors (30% international), 100,000 m2 of exhibition space, 1,400 invited international buyers, 12,500 scheduled business meetings, and over 150 knowledge sharing activities and debates.
Key themes throughout the event were innovation and health, a real indication of the direction in which the agri-food industry is going in Spain. Many companies used Alimentaria as a platform for launching new products. It was estimated that around 300 new products were presented at the event, all of which will arrive in stores over the next few months. Examples of which included Danone’s new Light & Free yoghurt range with 0% fat and 0% added sugar, as well as the launch of two new brands by Coca-Cola; Honest organic tea and their new range of vegetable-based drinks under the brand name Ades.
The promotion of a healthy lifestyle, the adjustment of food and drink to new consumption habits and sustainable innovation were all highlighted as key aspects which will continue to define the sector.
The role of innovation, in particular, was a dominant theme over the three days. Professor of Nutrition & Genomics at Tuft University, Boston, José María Ordovás concluded the ninth edition of Encuentros I+D+I with a “masterclass” in the role of innovation in nutrition and advances in health. Innovation will be a core component in generating value for Spain’s biggest industrial sector.
This year’s event seen and abundance of plant-based dairy alternatives while organic, gluten-free and lactose-free products were also common features. Examples of which include Maracona almond milk, gluten-free desserts and lactose-free mayonnaise.
Although these innovative products varied greatly, many of them were designed in response to the growing concern in Spain for healthier products, organic ingredients and products with less sugar, salt and fats. Among the products highlighted were; baked dishes as an alternative to fried, vegan sliced meat, and those products made with superfoods such as kale or quinoa.
Other products presented in Alimentaria included horchata bio-powder, with prebiotic, anti-cholesterol and digestive benefits; alcohol-free apple gin; oat-based cocoa shakes (no milk); organically produced beef strip appetizers; vegan snacks, such as turmeric lentil chips and organic chickpea chips.
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