SIAL Montréal: The North American Food Marketplace

by Katie Adams
Antoinette Bruno
May 2008

Palais des congrès de Montréal Convention Center
April 23 - 25, 2008

The fifth edition of SIAL Montréal, the only international “agri-food fair” in North America, brought over 12,000 attendees from over 80 countries, including 550 exhibitors. Countries as far-flung as Syria, Russia, Poland, and Sri Lanka were represented, along with a range of products from the Quebéc region – game, cheeses, wild produce, ice ciders, and of course maple in every format. The focus of this year’s SIAL Montréal was the growth of trade in foodstuffs between nations, and in pursuing that focus, SIAL brought together a selection of specialty products from around the world.

Programming within the Agora Nutrition Program focused on raising awareness about the connection between the nutrition and health divisions of the food industry. Roundtables and conferences focused on education through food service, nutrition coaching, the elimination of trans-fats, managing food allergies, as well as tracking food trends and innovations throughout the world. Presenters hailed from a variety of arenas – from education, sociology, media, and the restaurant industry – and discussed topics ranging from organic consultation, to distribution, to general business growth.

The second edition of the Olive d’Or Olive Oil competition showcased 105 olive oils from 18 countries, competing to see which oil rated highest in the categories of light, medium, and strong fruit flavor. Coming out on top were winners from Spain: Hacienda Iber “Arbequina” for light fruit flavor, Fuente la Madera for Medium fruit flavor and Portico de la Villa for strong fruit flavor. Winner of the Grand Trends and Innovations Award, which profiles food products new to the market, went to Theobroma Chocolat, from Vigneault chocolatier Ltée in Québec.

The SIAL Montréal exhibit hall offered an array of specialty foods unique to their terroir, including avocado oils from Chile, chorizo and rabbit sausage (which also won a Trends and Innovations Award), and an endless array of maple products from Québec. It was hard to overlook the focus on environmental consciousness, sustainable development, supporting local producers, and eco-friendly initiatives, both within the food and the equipment arena. In “Le Point,” a theater within the exhibit hall sponsored by SET Canada (Service, Equipment, Technology), attendees gathered for an array of mixology demonstrations, fashion shows, and presentations by chefs from Académie Culinaire, showing off their culinary techniques.

With representatives from many corners of the world, SIAL Montréal showed off an incredibly diverse array of products. SIAL’s next show takes place in Paris October 19-23, 2008; SIAL Montréal takes place next year April 1- 3, 2009. For more information, please refer to www.sialmontreal.com.