Alimentaria anticipates record turnout
Barcelona food exposition set to open with a bang

If you believe promoters, this year's version of the Alimentaria 2004 international food exhibition, to be held in Barcelona March 8th through 12th, will be bigger and better than ever.

The number of exhibitors and visitors is on the upswing and the show will comprise a record amount of square footage. The show will be divided into 15 sub-shows including Regional Pavilions, Interoliva, Ecological Foods and Innoval, a showcase for companies looking to display new and innovative offerings.

As usual, Spanish cheeses, seafood and olive products will be front-and-center. Intervin, the wine show, will be adding 50% more space making it the second largest show in Europe. Much of the new square footage will be absorbed by Australian, Chilean and South African producers all of whom will be displaying for the first time.

Spanish wine exports are up 45% during the past six years, mostly due to the success of its medium to high end products at tasting competitions in recent years.

But the 2004 version of the biennial show will expand beyond its traditional Spanish and Latin American base to include products from a wider range of countries and sectors.

"There's no point in having a food show today unless it's international," said Franciso Carrio, the show's managing director. "And this year, more than ever we can make the argument that we are in the same category as the other major European shows."

On its numbers alone, Alimentaria looks to be a major hit. This year, the show will expand to take space in a second pavilion to accommodate the 105,000 square meters of booth space that organizers have rented out to 4,000 vendors, an increase of 27% and 20% compared to the previous version.

While traffic is hard to prejudge, organizers are estimating 150,000 visitors this year, based on advance ticket sales and bookings.

Beyond the usual displaying, merchandize hawking and hob-nobbing, Alimentaria will also host a wine education forum, a Mediterranean Diet Congress, an ecological foods sector and a Food Forum that will focus on the latest consumption trends and patterns.

Much of Alimentaria's growth in recent years has been due to its association with trade publisher Reed Exhibitions. But starting with this year's version, Reed becomes a full partner in the show, holding a 50% equity interest, with the balance held by FIRA, Barcelona, a government consortium.

Canadian grocery professionals tend to prefer the more high profile Anuga, Sial and Fancy Foods shows. But Alimentaria organizers are hoping that with the recent multi-year growth Canadian grocers and suppliers will give the exhibition another look.

But despite the recent expansions, Alimentaria organizers are not done yet. Current plans call for Alimentaria to move to a new 250,000 square meter venue in 2007, which would more than double the show's size beyond the record 2004 totals.



Photo caption: Alimentaria Exhibitions executives brief the international press about the food show, which will be held in early March.



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