Barcelona International Food and Drinks Exhibition puts on its most international show

Alimentaria 2012 is one of the most important trade fairs in the world focusing on food and drinks. It is organised in the Catalan capital every two years. The next edition will be held between March 26th and March 29th, reducing its length from 5 to 4 days. However, the trade fair maintains the exhibition space and the number of exhibitors and participants.

CNA / Esther Romagosa

February 11, 2012 03:11 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The next edition of Alimentaria will be the most international ever organised. Alimentaria 2012, International Food and Drinks Exhibition organised by Fira de Barcelona (Barcelona’s Trade Fair) and Reed Exhibitions Iberia, focuses on the international market, by enlarging its international promotion budget by 20%. As announced on Friday in Barcelona, Alimentaria 2012 wil be held at the end of next month, between March 26th and 29th, at the Gran Via venue of Fira de Barcelona, in L’Hospitalet (Greater Barcelona). The organisation has decided to shorten  the trade show from 5 to 4 days, in order to help exhibitors reduce costs. The next edition will host around 4,000 exhibitors, a third of them from 75 different countries. The presence of Asian companies has increased significantly. Alimentaria is divided in 14 specialised shows, focusing on drinks, meat products, wine, gourmet products, frozen food, eco food, etc. The exhibition space is maintained, with some 95,000 square metres. Organisers expect to welcome 140,000 visitors, a similar figure to the past two editions.

Josep Lluís Bonet, President of Alimentaria and of Fira de Barcelona, stressed that despite the current economic difficulties, the agri-food sector has the advantage that it “resists the crisis better than others”. Bonet pointed out the Catalan and Spanish agri-food sector’s internationalisation, which is growing year on year, as one of its main assets, an asset that helps the sector “to deal with the crisis with more easely”. This is the reason why internationalisation is “the main objective” of the food and drinks trade fair, according to Bonet, and a key element “to consolidate the bases for the future”. In fact, the event’s organisers, Alimentaria Exhibitions (a joint venture between Fira de Barcelona and Reed Exhibitions Iberia), have increased the international promotion budget by 20% this year. 

Focusing on internationalisation, competitiveness and branding

Two other important drives of this year’s edition are competitiveness, “the other side of the internationalisation coin”, said Bonet, and branding, “for it is what really gives strength to the sector and allows it to have a more significant global position”. The President of Alimentaria pushed the SMEs to attend the trade fair and network, in order to build international contacts in order to reach foreign markets, which “in many cases might represent their survival” as a company.

Alimentaria 2012’s presentation was held on Friday at Damm’s former beer brewery in Barcelona. The event was chaired by the Catalan Minister for Agriculture, Stockbreeding, Fishing, Food and Environment, Josep Maria Pelegrí. The Minister praised a fair that “is transversal and strategic” for Catalonia and its economy. According to Pelegrí, the agri-food industry is an “anti-cycle” sector, that resists the crisis and that can also be one of the economic recovery’s engines. He stressed that the business opportunities Alimentaria might bring “raise awareness of the quality and excellence” of Catalan products, Catalan cuisine, and the Mediterranean diet. Consequently, according to Pelegrí, Barcelona’s international food and drink exhibition might also represent an opportunity to promote gastro-tourism, as well as wine tourism in Catalonia.

This edition’s main figures

This year, Alimentaria will run from March 26th to March 29th and it will take place in Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via venue, in L’Hospitalet, near Barcelona El Prat Airport. A total of 3,936 companies have already confirmed they will have a stand, and 1,299 of them are from outside Spain. The 2012 edition will have companies from 75 different countries, with a significant increase in Asian exhibitors. For the first time companies from Thailand, Dubai and Sweden will be present, and China doubles its exhibition space. Some of the participating countries are Mexico –which will be the guest of honour–, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, India, Iran, Turkey, Romania, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, France, or the United Kingdom, among others. In total, 140,500 visitors are expected, 35,800 of them coming from outside Spain. It is expected that more than 8,000 business meetings will take place. Furthermore, to prioritise trade, 200 of the world’s largest purchasers for the large distribution centres and purchasing offices will attend.

14 specialised trade fairs

In order to segment the market, Alimentaria is divided in 14 specialised trade fairs, focusing on drinks, dairy products, meat, fish, eco-products, canned food, frozen food, wine, gourmet products, etc. Furthermore there is a pavilion for the different Spanish Autonomous Communities and another for international exhibitors.

Apart from the food and drinks trade fair, several parallel events and activities have been organised. Some of these are: Barcelona International Congress of Gastronomy, called BCNVanguardia; a space for food and wine tasting called ‘Taste&Flavours’; the 4th Chef of the Year Competition; and the new space called ‘Food Experience, Markets & Trends’, which will host show-cooking, workshops, and conferences.