Earlier this week I traveled to Paris to attend the 24th edition of the Salon International d’Alimentation (SIAL). This 5-day event is one of the largest international food and beverage trade exhibitions in the world, attracting 5,500 exhibitors and over 147,000 trade-only visitors representing 188 countries. I was very impressed by the wide variety of U.S. products on display and by the number of participating countries.
For nearly 20 years, the United States has participated in SIAL Paris. This year’s USA Pavilion at SIAL was the largest to date, with some 140 exhibitors occupying over 2,700 square meters. SIAL offers U.S. food exporters the opportunity to test products and meet with European as well as other international traders and industry professionals. Clearly, this is a major factor for the large U.S. presence.
One of my primary reasons for attending the show was to meet face to face with U.S. Cooperators, exhibitors, and importers from Europe and other regions, as well as industry leaders. I had the pleasure of talking with many small- and medium-sized companies and Cooperator groups who expressed their appreciation of our programs and services, including American Food Service, Head Country Food Products, Rogue Creamery, U.S. Meat Export Federation, USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, and representatives from the state regional trade groups (SRTG), just to name a few. Tuesday night’s SRTG-hosted trade reception, as well as an industry reception, was yet another wonderful opportunity to talk with Pavilion exhibitors and trade visitors. Reception guests included buyer groups from North Africa and the Middle East recruited by our FAS Field offices.
The European Union (EU) is a major trading partner for the United States. The EU is America’s fifth largest market for agricultural and food products. France alone imports nearly $1 billion of U.S. farm goods annually. However, the scope of SIAL extended beyond the EU, reaching importers from all corners of the world. Building a market presence is sometimes a long process, and participation in these types of trade shows introduces foreign buyers and consumers more quickly and effectively to the attributes and advantages of American products.
Looking back on the response of visitors to the wide variety of U.S. food and beverage products showcased in the Pavilion, I am optimistic that the demand for U.S. agricultural products is strong, and our reputation as a reliable supplier of safe, wholesome, and innovative products is excellent. For information on other upcoming trade events, please visit our home page at www.fas.usda.gov or contact Maria.Nemeth-Ek@fas.usda.gov. FAS looks forward to welcoming you to a USDA-endorsed trade show and/or trade mission in the near future!