Talking Shop with… Xavier Poncin

The executive director of SIAL Canada 2012, says that momentum is building for this year’s event, slated for early May in Montreal.

Grocery Headquarters: Tell us about this year’s show, including its dates and venue.
Xavier Poncin: SIAL Canada returns to the North American capital of gastronomy, Montreal, from May 9th to 11th, at the Palais des congrès Exhibition Center, after a record-breaking first edition in Toronto in 2011.

What improvements are being made? 
The alternating schedule between Montreal and Toronto announced in 2010 created a whole new dynamic for the show. Following the 2011 edition and its record growth of 35% in Toronto, we are delighted to announce that SIAL Canada 2012 is also experiencing a significant increase of 15% to 20%. The number of represented countries also increases.
We should reach 630 to 650 exhibitors from 40 countries this year (37 in 2010 and 2011). Our success validates the strategy.

SIAL Canada has become the undisputed food show for the entire country and also a must-attend event for North America.

What new things can attendees expect to find? 
This year again, international products and innovation will be highlighted. The international Trends and Innovations contest is going to make an impression again. Besides the 50 nominated products highlighted during SIAL Canada, show visitors will have the opportunity to discover the awarded products from all over the world: From SIAL China, SIAL Middle East and even SIAL Brazil. SIAL Canada is the only show in North America that benefits from such an international innovation representation and this is thanks to the SIAL group’s unique network.

Always a leader in this field, the Olive d’Or contest, the only international extra virgin olive oil contest in North America, will bring more than 150 producers from 15 countries to compete, to be showcased and to be tasted on the Olive d’Or area at the show.

The second edition of Coffee Cup by SIAL will allow visitors to discover the best coffees selected by a panel of experts presided by a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Thirty producers from 10 countries will compete for the honor of best coffee of the year.

La Cuisine will return to the show with an all new program. This year’s event will feature a three-day corporate chef contest (representatives of food processing companies, large food distribution companies and restaurants) that will have chefs demonstrate their culinary knowledge and prowess. Apart from this new challenge, we have created a VIP “behind the scenes” culinary tour package, for those interested in both visiting the show and discovering the backstage of restaurants and food stores in Montreal.

Finally, SIAL Canada’s “Hot Product” Expert Pathways through the show allow visitors to prepare their visit by selecting exhibitors according to chosen themes and criteria. These pathways are: Private Label, Gluten free, Kosher, Halal, Fair Trade, Organic and Food Service Suppliers.

For 2012, there will be three new pathways:

  1. Convenience Stores and Small Independent Shops: highlighting suppliers who can provide small amounts of products to small-sized businesses.
  2. Regional Products: for suppliers who provide products featuring local and craft culinary products.
  3. Sold in the U.S.: For suppliers selling and shipping products in the U.S.

Why should U.S. retailers attend this event?
American retailers should attend because they will be able to find new and innovative products coming from at least 40 countries and will be able to experience the largest platform of Canadian products in North America. Canadian products are known for being innovative and healthy and Québec products are known for their high quality standards. Canadian manufacturers are the number one private label supplier in North America and SIAL Canada will definitely be the right place to survey private label products and suppliers.

What are the best ways for American retailers to prepare for this event?
All of the details on our various events and exhibitors can be found at our website, www.sialcanada.com. Visitors can also find helpful information for booking flights and hotels in Montreal. Online visitor pre-registration launches Feb. 15. Beginning in April, visitors will be able to prepare their visit and see the list of companies registered in our various expert pathways.

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