Taking place at Paris Nord Villepinte from 21 to 25 October, SIAL Paris 2018 promises to be the food event of the year, and an inspirational meeting place for the entire industry.
Food retail is changing, more quickly than ever before. A 'consumer revolution' is changing the nature of retail structures, redefining market positioning, ranges, partnerships, and how organisations operate. As well as showcasing the latest product innovations from across the global marketplace, SIAL Paris also plays an important role in establishing market trends.
Ahead of the event, ESM caught up with Nicolas Trentesaux, SIAL network director about some of the key learnings attendees will be able to take away from this year's event.
ESM: How would you define food retail today?
Nicolas Trentesaux: Food retail today is nothing like it was yesterday. From product offer to store concept, through to payment or delivery mode: the metamorphosis has been nothing short of radical!
This phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down, driven as it is by the appetite of consumers as well as the ingenuity of manufacturers, always at the cutting edge of innovation.
In fact, food retail, which, unlike other sectors, experienced relatively little upheaval over the past 30 years, is currently going through a period of accelerated change. Proximity, service and hybridisation are undoubtedly the buzzwords of this revolution.
Illustrative of this are the world rankings of the biggest food retailers. Every year the cards are reshuffled, with the latest major change being the rise to prominence of Amazon.
You speak of an ongoing revolution: is this a global phenomenon?
Absolutely! You will see this for yourself in October at SIAL Paris 2018, the showcase of global food retail. There is a strong link between the first-hand accounts of our experts, the feedback from our exhibitors and visitors throughout the SIAL network, along with the information that has been gathered from studies that we have conducted with our partners.
While different countries and regions are at different stages of progress, the entire planet is seeing this ongoing revolution. The globalisation of food retail means that the sector is growing stronger as tastes and flavours travel and establish themselves.
Does the digitalisation of trade not carry the risk, ultimately, of homogenising taste and loosening the link between the consumer and food?
On the contrary. I would say that digitalisation is more like a means of bringing people closer to food. In our industry, the major phenomenon that we are witnessing today is, in fact, the 're-humanisation' of trade. For example, store chains all over the world are reducing the size of the sales floor.
Small supermarkets, click & collects and market-style operations are riding high while, at the same time, hypermarkets are being trimmed down by several hundreds - or even thousands - of square metres.
Is proximity, therefore, becoming the essential value in food retail?
I would prefer to focus on the notion of pleasure. Consumers are getting closer to the product; they are encountering more and more opportunities to taste food in-store. Sharing and pleasure are back in vogue.
It is a trend that is loudly echoed in the emergence of 'food halls', such as Eataly, or indeed SIAL Paris, which can claim to be the biggest 'food hall' events in the world in 2018.
What is the state of play with foodservice today?
Whenever I'm asked this question, the picture of a constantly rising champagne bubble always comes to mind! The foodservice market is effervescent, and what is quite remarkable is that the same trend can be observed all around the world.
What role does foodservice now play, therefore, in the wider food landscape?
I suggest going back to basics: why do we go to restaurants? From one individual to the next, there are many motivations. It may be a question of saving time, the desire for service, for treating yourself, for meeting up with friends and family in convivial surroundings.
Yet one motivation keeps on cropping up: to discover new flavours and trends, which you subsequently want to try to reproduce at home. The foodservice industry is therefore a food innovation laboratory of sorts, where the cuisine of tomorrow is invented and where manufacturers, artisans and consumers come to glean new ideas!
In the space of just a few years, foodservice professionals have totally revamped their trade, and the very concept of 'foodservice' itself.
But how do you capitalise on this? What importance do you place on experience and exchange?
Experience only serves a purpose if it is shared. Thanks to flagship events dedicated to foodservice, we offer all visitors and exhibitors the possibility of exchanging ideas with many established and up-and-coming chefs, both stars and lesser-known personalities, who will be in attendance at SIAL.
This in turn enables them to find new sources of inspiration and be a part of the great adventure which has been described as 'Cuisine 3.0' a trend that is at once inventive, responsible and connected.
SIAL is very much a global-focused event. Is there a particular country, or region, that you think is driving retail forward at the moment?
Every country is a model in itself, since, in the field of food retail, every region continues to preserve its traditions, its recipes and its successful formulas. You don't do your shopping in the same way someone in Canada, Indonesia, France or India does.
That said, today, China is leading the way on the world markets, stealing the thunder from California, which still remains a cradle of innovation in the field of food retail. A particular strong point of the Chinese model is the terrific capacity to develop communicability and services, and make commitments to consumers.
How will SIAL 2018 take the 'food revolution' phenomenon into account?
All the short, medium and long-term trends that you will discover one day on the shelves of global stores start out at SIAL. Why? Because we are an ideas laboratory, first and foremost for retail and foodservice professionals. In order to stay one step ahead of this ongoing revolution, which affects every area of retail, a visit to the biggest food lab around cannot be beaten.
To take the pulse of a sector in the stages of revolution and discover the innovations that will transform food retail, SIAL Paris is the place to be, from 21 to 25 October 2018 at Paris-Nord Villepinte.
Keep up to date with the latest news from SIAL by visiting www.sialparis.com.
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