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Innovation at its best at SIAL 2012 food and drink fair

As every two years we visited the SIAL 2012, which took place in Paris from Oct 21st until Oct 25th, the largest fair for professionals in the food and drink industry.

With almost 6000 exhibitors this fair is one of (if not the) largest in the world and obviously one day was not enough to visit everything. We are to strictly keep our deadlines and made prior arrangements with all companies which were awarded a SIAL innovation prize.

At a pace of 15 minutes per company during 10 straight hours, you can imagine we were pretty overwhelmed at the end of the day. For the story, we didn’t find any time to actually pause and eat, which is pretty unusual given the topic of the fair.


Companies were surveyed and interviewed on several aspects: the product itself and why it’s an innovation, how the products fits into today’s consumer’s landscape, the innovation process within the firm (how innovation is fueled, which are the stakeholders involved), the marketing aspects and for the SMEs interviewed we added questions around the entrepreneurship process.

Although we’ll deliver in the coming weeks a series of articles focused on each and every firm we met, we found it interesting at first to give you an idea of today’s positioning categories in the food and drink sectors. We found useful to re-use a map provided by xtc which covers pretty much all the themes that we have found in our various studies of the industry in the last years.

These categories range from pleasure (what we also call “hedonism”) to Ethics, through Health, Shape (being in good shape) and Praticity. We noticed, by and large, that the vast majority of products belonged to the Health and Shape categories (which are not far from each other) and to the pleasure category. The latter was especially well developed in the snacking category where pleasure tends to find its place in smaller portions. The economic crisis is certainly one factor of influence as consumers tend to offset their fears and frustrations with tangible pleasures such as eating.



Keep tuned to read more on SIAL latest innovations in the coming weeks.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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