The organizers of Sirha 2013 expect to host 2,300 exhibitors and 170,000 foodservice professionals at the World Food and Hospitality Event which takes place in Lyon, France, next month, a 5% increase from the 2011 event, and the party will have room to grow even bigger when a new hall is built in 2014, said managing director Marie-Odile Fondeur.
We spoke with Fondeur recently to find out more about what to expect from the event.
What are some of the trends attendees are likely to hear about and explore in Lyon in January?
We have been working with a trend consultant, Loeb Innovation, for several years now. This year, thanks to a worldwide survey of 600 experts, along with meetings and interviews with foodservice professionals, we have identified four mega consumer behavior trends that we believe start a new five-year cycle:
Trend 1 : A worldwide awareness that food resources are finite
Experts stress the fact that the planet and its resources are finite. Basic foodstuffs, in particular meat and fish, are becoming scarce. In many countries, the consumer’s demand for traceability is increasing.
Trend 2 : A world seeking health and pleasure in complete safety
Obesity and food-related illnesses are spreading quickly. Experts today speak of a real epidemic of obesity becoming a serious public health issue, from Canada to China to Europe. With more than 55% of its population overweight and 35% suffering from obesity, the United States holds the unenviable record in this field. In Northern Europe, where people are more aware of the risks of poor nutrition and the dangers of obesity demands for healthy eating are more openly affirmed. There, restaurants are places where children can also learn to eat healthily. On the other hand, in Southern Europe (France, Italy, Spain), the national cuisine is already perceived as being of high quality and “good for you.” The emphasis is placed more on the basics (quality of raw materials, traditional methods) to guarantee healthy eating.
Trend 3 : “International” if not “global” tastes are slowly but surely spreading in every region of the world.
Globally, a “mainstream” taste culture is emerging: Information, travel and communication technologies make it easier for restaurant customers to become connoisseurs, exchange ideas and formulate new demands. In this new world, fried food will disappear versus a greater use of woks, steamers, bouillons and emulsions. Fresh, natural aromatic markers combined with Asian spices will give birth to a healthy fusion style.
Trend 4 : Future consumers in an aging and multicultural world
In 2012, a billion people worldwide are over 60; this age group accounts for more than 20% of the population of Europe. 20-25% of Europeans are of mixed race, as are 40% of Americans. In the coming decades, it is expected that 200-400 million people will migrate between continents every 10 years. The experts in each country recognized that most baby boomers are eager for novelty and modernity. Their main concerns are health and a balanced diet, but their consuming habits change slowly. Youngsters are more broadminded and open to new experiences; their consuming habits change often and quickly.
What are some of the new features on the agenda?
We’ll have two completely new, exciting demonstration areas dedicated to trends.
A new-look Food Studio by Sirha, the living trends laboratory specially designed for foodservice professionals. Run by some highly committed partners (Bridor Lenôtre, a mass catering chefs association, the Ducasse ENSP Pastry School and talented young chefs association Omnivore), four theme-based hubs inspired by the trend topics of the World Cuisine Summit will explore culinary innovation “live.”
- “Sixième Sens, table scene collections” a full-scale multi-concept restaurant put together by students at the Institut Paul Bocuse, will unveil the latest creations and innovations in the world of tableware and restaurant concepts.
- Culinary First Class Dining — a fresh look at air travel in the future and what will we eat onboard.
- Cheese Me Urban Eatery is a brand new cheese bar.
- The Locavore will show a modernized version of the traditional French Bistro with high quality local foodstuffs.
- Culinary Hydrotherapy: a new and daring concept based on the benefits of water for a made to measure meal through ayurvedic medicine.
And of course, the Sirha World Cuisine Summit. This event on Jan. 28 in the center of Lyon, is reserved for professionals. It will be a one-day culinary and sensory visual show punctuated by personal accounts, talks, discussions and of course, surprises. The summit, a true Davos for gastronomy, is chaired by Honorary President Paul Bocuse, and supported by the French Ministry of Agriculture, the Food Industry and Forestry.
The eating-out industry is at a turning point. How can the sector’s growth be sustained in a fast-changing world (production, processing, consumption)? How can better food service for a better life be promoted? We’re bringing together major international players — chefs, producers, NGO’s, [and] international organizations to discuss these questions.
As chefs and foodservice professionals from around the world come together at events like Sirha, is it driving more culinary collaborations or fusion cuisines?
I often compare Sirha to a living laboratory of food trends. Chefs get together and get inspiration from each other’s work and creations. As they would do on a trip abroad, they smell, taste and exchange. Sirha makes them travel!
Sirha and its events have given birth to a wide international family. Chefs from around the world are always happy to meet, and Sirha is a great place for that.
All foodservice professionals come to Sirha to discover new ideas and products, to conduct business, and most of all to meet their peers and friends. So we are eager to welcome them in January in Lyon.