Food industry licking its lips ahead of Paris expo

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The global food industry descends on the French capital on Sunday for its most important exposition, with organisers and representatives in upbeat mood after a difficult year in 2009.

About 5,600 companies will be represented at the five-day SIAL expo on the outskirts of Paris, hoping to persuade supermarkets and the catering industry that their products are the foods of the future.

Particularly prominent this year will be China, which is the fourth-biggest exhibitor by number of stalls and has made the biggest increase of all countries in its representation since the last SIAL in 2008.

Exhibitors come from 107 countries, with Benin, Togo and Armenia represented for the first time alongside traditional big-hitters such as France and Spain.

The exhibition is a reflection of the global food sector, which is growing again after a difficult year in 2009, said SIAL's director Valerie Lobry.

A key trend is this year is "ultra," namely products that are ultra-cheap, ultra-simple, ultra-practical or ultra-sophisticated, said Xavier Terlet, an innovation consultant for SIAL.

"Mid-range is out," he said.

Another trend is for more authentic and organic foods that do not have added sugar, colouring or preservatives, said Sophie de Reynal, an expert in food innovation.

"Home-style cooking and old-fashioned recipes" are coming back, De Reynal said.

In addition to new foodstuffs, exhibitors will also show off innovations in nutrition, health and environment, for example new types of packaging aimed at reducing waste.

Organisers have singled out 15 products for being particularly innovative, ranging from sandwiches made of rice to crystalised mint.

In keeping with an increasingly globalised industry, SIAL will stage an exposition in Abu-Dhabi in November, before similar events in Canada, China and Argentina next year.

© 2010 AFP

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