A look back at SIAL 2022
After a four-year absence, SIAL has finally taken its place in the calendar. In mid-October, professionals from many countries were finally able to meet in Paris for this unmissable event. And it must be said that this year's edition has welcomed its former audience with open arms and picked back its good old habits. Of course, having been there, here is My 20/CENT on this 2022 edition.
Like in the good old days
The first thing to note about this SIAL 2022 is that for the first time in the post-Covid era, I had the feeling to be at a show with a high level of attendance.
In terms of numbers, it is clear that the show did not break the record of previous years. We must not forget that the international situation is still tense and some people are logically missing. But there were still a little more than 7000 exhibitors from 127 countries which is remarkable.
Also, walking through the aisles, I didn't notice any empty spaces, nor any filling with "resting areas" or “coffee bars”, techniques often used by show organizers during covid periods to fill last minute voids. Moreover, the space at Villepinte seemed to be completely used. Temporary halls had even been added.
And most importantly, many exhibitors shared with me positive feedback about the quality of the visiting public. There was a mix of buyers, wholesalers, agents... from all over the world, with perhaps a predominance of Latin America and Asia.
What you should have seen
Of course, at SIAL, the corner dedicated to the innovations of the competition remains a must. The space with the winners selected by the jury was again well filled this year and many exhibitors submitted products. There were some surprising concepts, including a beer made from olives. (I will tell you more about the winners in a future article).
But there were also two other spaces on the show floor that were worthwhile.
The first was the startup corner. In this space, the opportunity was given to different startups to be present according to a particular format and rate. What is interesting to note is that this is often the kind of place where you will come across real innovative ideas. There were a few like vintage mead, fermented lemonades, and of course many plant-based innovations.
The second space that was worth a visit was without hesitation the Future lab. In this concept, you could watch some news and projections about the challenges of tomorrow's food industry. But there was also a concept of a store of the future (Store of Tomorrow), which included some known elements but also some novelties. It was a reflection based on an Accenture study with some good ideas. In summary, the concept shows that tomorrow's points of sale will be a fusion between the physical and the digital, but also that the experience will be the major asset for the physical side.
Small bumps, but also green
From the point of view of attendance figures, the show was good, from the point of view of content, the vintage was not bad, but what about the organization? As always in this type of event there are often elements that could be improved. One element that I didn't miss during the covid era was the rush at the exit in the evening to get to the RER station or to find a cab. Managing a crowd is never easy, but having visited quite a few trade shows, it seems to me that Villepinte is one of the sites that suffers the most from this type of problem, and it would be appropriate to think deeply about the subject.
As for the SIAL mobile application, I expected better too. The search functions were not as intuitive and to find even simple information such as the stand number of an exhibitor, I really struggled sometimes.
One thing I would also add to this application is a system that allows you to scan the badge of the people you meet. This would save time and avoid having to rent a specific scanner, which obviously 99.9% of the exhibitors didn't have. Many took the initiative to scan the barcode of my badge with their cell phone but without success. Fortunately, the good old pencil paper technique still exists.
Speaking of the badge, I noticed that the show replaced the plastic badge holders with a completely cardboard model. In terms of sustainability, this was a very visible measure and apparently not the only concrete action taken by the organization to make the show more sustainable. And that deserves a special mention.
In a nutshell
To conclude, let's just say that we had to wait a long time for this SIAL. But it still lived up to expectations. The difficult post-pandemic circumstances, the international crisis, the economic context...not everything can be solved in five days of exhibitions. But this edition will still have had the merit of reminding its participants the basic foundations of business and that the future lies in exchange and innovation.
PS: In another article, I share with you the various trends that stood out at the event and point out some of the ranges and innovations that caught my attention. Read it here : https://20100retail.be/en/articles/718/sial-2022-trends
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