April 17, 2014
SIAL Canada 2014 sets new records
The SIAL Canada 2014 international food show, which took place at Montreal’s Palais des Congres in early April, was by all accounts a striking success. The event attracted 767 expositors and 14,685 visitors spread out over 200,000 square feet of exhibition space.
“These are record amounts,” said Xavier Poncin, executive director of SIAL Canada. “The gains mean the event, which alternates between Toronto and Montreal is now roughly the same size in both cities - a pretty good achievement.”
Maria Arbulu a senior marketing specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture, which assists American producers in exporting their wares, agrees. “We had a very good response this year, despite the rising greenback which is hampering US exporters,” said Arbulu, “ The number of companies participating in our pavilion rose from 26 last time to around to 30 in 2014. The booth space we set aside for the show had sold out by January.”
As is increasingly common at Canadian food shows in recent years, the big story at SIAL Montreal was large presence of international exhibitors and guests, hailing from 37 countries.
A variety of presentations and new products were showcased targeted to the shifting demographics of Canada’s ever changing grocery market.
For example Secrets of Panama, led by Marianela Martinez, its chief operating officer, is seeking to leverage a free trade deal signed between Canada and Panama, which came into effect in April of last year. The company acted quickly, to introduce its Hot Chombo premium hot style habanero pepper sauce to Toronto’s growing Latin and Spanish speaking communities. After seeing quick success there, Martinez decided to try Montreal as well. Hot Chombo, which comes in four SKUs (green, red and yellow pepper as well as a premium version) is thought to have strong potential in the health-conscious Canadian market, due to nutrition benefits of the capsicum found in its habanero pepper.
That said, the main takeaway from Secrets of Panama’s efforts at SIAL Montreal relate to its size – the fledgling company has just 12 employees. “If we can do it anyone can,” says Martinez with a smile. “It’s a small world now and international food producers need to take advantage of that.”
SIAL Toronto 2015 will be held next year at the Direct Energy Center on April 28th to the 30th.
Sidebar: Products that caught out eye
Felix & Norton Cupcakes
This long-time Montreal-based marketer of premium dough, which customers bake into high-end cookies, grabbed booth space at SIAL to introduce its latest innovation: cupcake dough. The new line, which will be available in three flavours – Ménage a Trios, Ebony & Ivory and Caramel Fleur de Sel, - has a five-day shelf life. The launch of the cupcakes, in tandem with a redesign of the company’s packaging and brand image, could not have come at a better time. According to veteran entrepreneur Michael Eskenazi, the brains behind Felix and Norton, the company has let an exclusive agreement with Sobeys expire, and is now looking to broaden is distribution channels. According to Eskanazi, reaction to the cupcakes at SIAL was exceptionally positive, with strong interest shown by a number of major Canadian retailers.
Original Gourmet Food Company
About a decade ago, New Hampshire-based Original Gourmet Food Company bet big on a new premium lollipop that would sell at a higher price point than conventional brands. These larger (31 gram) treats recall the days when the candy was a staple of American children. Original Gourmet Lollipops, which can last over an hour, were an immediate success and now comprise almost three quarters of the company’s sales. Now Original Gourmet Food Company is making a major push in Canada. Other key selling points include an innovative display and a two-year shelf life, made possible due to air tight packaging.
Whole Wild Blueberry Puree
One Canadian company that received an honourable mention from the SIAL committee was PEI Berries, which stood out due to its innovative Whole Wild Blueberry Puree. The offering is being marketed as a drink, pancake topping and ingredient in smoothies, yogurt and the like. PEI Berries used natural methods to grow the blueberries used in the puree, which was made using a patented process that liquefies 100% of the berry. This completely eliminates the use of fungicides and insecticides in the product, which is made using a patented processing technology with no added sugar, preservatives or colouring. According to a company spokesperson the “whole” puree captures nutrients and other pulp compounds, which juice products do not.
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Peter Diekmeyer Communications Inc.