Interview with SIAL CHINA Director Bjoern Kempe

Asia’s largest Food & Beverage exhibition, SIAL CHINA kicks off in May in Shanghai. Bjoern Kempe, exhibition director, is already excited for the upcoming edition and promises many surprises. 

Bjoern-KEMPE SIALIn 2014 you celebrated the 15th anniversary of SIAL CHINA and just recently the 50th anniversary of SIAL in Paris. How do you feel about this and how does this influence the future development of SIAL CHINA?
Yes, this year was a big year for the SIAL GROUP with major anniversaries. It has put SIAL on the list for every professional food buyer in the world regardless in which continent. We had fantastic results with SIAL CHINA growing the show almost 30% and also SIAL PARIS had a great show with more than 10% growth – this will of course be the benchmark for the future. However we don’t only want to grow in size but most importantly in quality especially for buyers.

What is your ambition for the coming edition of SIAL CHINA?
Our ambition is to be the source of inspiration and sharing trends in the Asian food market. We want to present SIAL CHINA as the largest professional network in Asia that can be a guarantor for good business, innovations and inspirations.

What will be new at SIAL CHINA 2015?
It’s a challenge to present a show that will be 115,000 sqm in size in just three days. Too many things are going on so we will be focusing on our main events and highlights such as the SIAL Innovation area as the centre point of SIAL CHINA to present more than 200 innovative products. In addition we will strengthen our La Cuisine by SIAL and add on more education shows and cooking trend shows for Asian and Chinese cooking. Finally we will invite even better speakers at our SIAL Retail & Hospitality Forum to discuss the latest trends of the industries. We will focus on the quality of the buyers, to create room and environment to let energy and inspirations flow for business networking opportunities. Our aim is not to only grow domestic visitors and product choices but also international buyers especially from all Asian/Pacific regions such as India, Australia, Middle East, New Zealand etc. who are important buyers.

So SIAL CHINA goes beyond its boundaries of CHINA?
Yes certainly – within a few years SIAL CHINA shot up to the No 1 annual food & beverage exhibition in Asia. For the coming edition we expect more than 2,700 exhibitors from 90 countries on 115,000 sqm area – that’s bigger than any other show in the Asia/Pacific region. Our visitors come from more than 90 countries and have almost doubled in the last three shows.

Does the economy in China play a role for this growth?
The weak food production and low food safety standards in China have led to a strong increase in food imports. Nowadays the still growing middle class as well as the strong growing hospitality industry demand new and more international imported food and beverages. The central government has supported this trend with free trade agreements, lowering taxes and import duties as well as lowering the obstacles for import such as shipping regulations, CIQ and so on. In addition China is the largest food market in terms of consumption and Shanghai is now an established metropolitan city with world leading chefs having their restaurants here.

Which sectors are developing fast at SIAL CHINA?
We can see strong growth in our meat sector that will be presented in two  halls with a total exhibition space of almost 25,000sqm. More than 450 companies from 30 countries will present their meat products. The meat market is really good at the moment and driving strong growth. In addition to meat we can also see a strong growth for dairy, seafood and fresh food products. However sweets, confectionary and bakery sectors are still the biggest and are maintaining their size.

How does the wine sector perform at SIAL CHINA?
As most of us know, the wine sector kind of crashed two years ago here  with an oversupply and consumption not catching up in the volume as experts predicted. As such the wine sector has consolidated over the last two years but we are very proud to present 8000 sqm of high quality pure wine sector that is only open for wine buyers at our SIAL WINE WORLD in hall W5. More than 20 countries amongst them Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Australia, South Africa, Bulgaria and Greece will participate in this special and high class sector. This is the same for the rest of SIAL CHINA as we focus on growth of visitors and on high quality events. Our newly created WINE LAB will combine the Wine Innovation Forum, Master Classes, Tasting sessions, seminars and many more events.

How different is SIAL CHINA from the rest of the SIAL events around the world?
Firstly we are the largest show inside the SIAL Group that will be seen in 2015. Secondly we have sectors for meat, gourmet products and wine at SIAL CHINA that none of the other SIAL around the world have as well. Lastly we also present a very good selection and choice of more than 1000 Chinese exhibitors for seafood products, agricultural grain products, canned food, condiments and fruits & vegetables. We also have a big sector for food processing and packaging at PackTech FoodTech.

What are the core values of SIAL CHINA to newcomers and outsiders?
That’s a very difficult question but I would describe the core values as a big selection of products, numerous inspirations, product innovations, energetic intelligence and networking platform for the Asian food market, altogether surprising and engaging!

Any secrets you can share with us now?
Well I don’t like to say too much but yes there will be some surprises. USA is our guest country of honor and will have many events at the show. We will also welcome top class chefs from the World Association of Chef Society and we will welcome many new countries to SIAL CHINA that will present their products for the very first time in Asia. SIAL CHINA will also change its layout and halls and will be located in hall W1-W5 and E1-E5 so the new layout will also come with surprises! To know more secrets, you need to come and join us from May 6-8, 2015 at Shanghai New International Expo Centre!