BSMS in Paris: visiting the world's leading food fair

Companies should be clearly aware of their business goals and, when representing not only their company, but also the country, they should think carefully about which people to entrust this role.

BSMS CEO Inta Buša comments: Our goal when going to SIAL was to explore the latest novelties in food and beverage production in Europe, getting to know innovative and interesting companies. As consumer habits change, it can be observed that European manufacturers are actively thinking about the product ingredients, namely reducing sugar amount, choosing alternatives for caffeine, plant based products, selecting meat alternatives. Of course, eco and bio products and the conditions for obtaining the product's raw materials are still relevant, including how socially responsible the company is. Responding to consumers' need for a convenient and at the same time healthy meal, semi-finished products or various mixes for easy preparation are also offered. I clearly see market potential for such products.

Companies with their own stand should think about three main aspects:

Company image: The first impression of a company (or in national stands of the entire country) is made by its visual presentation. This year, at the international exhibition SIAL, Brazil distinctly stood out, with a clear positioning of the joint state companies and extensive communication, which was reflected in various materials. Other countries, with a very long list of participants, like Italy and Poland, used their massive territorial coverage in the hall to stand out instead of their identity and communication.

Company representative: It would seem that at one of the world's largest exhibitions of the food and beverage industry, companies would choose representatives who could present themselves, the company and the country in the best way possible, but in reality there were quite a lot of representatives who did not speak English or spoke English poorly, hindering the communication and reducing the desire to stay at the company's stand. Companies represent themselves using different strategies. For demonstrating some energy drinks stylish models gathered smiling men around them, while their manager talked about the company's strategy and sales plans. Other companies promoted production managers or marketing specialists. However, regardless of the position, it is necessary to be able to answer key questions about the product's price, benefits, deadlines and export strategy. I would like to remark that attitude or mood is also important, don’t be like one representative of a Latvian company who complained how bad everything is, there is a lack of resources, she is tired and honestly she would rather sit on the couch and watch TV.

Achievable goals: It is best to clearly define what benefits you want to get from SIAL - in which markets you want to export and what are your opportunities. A smart strategy is to plan business meetings with potential partners in advance, rather than hoping for good luck - I also recommend this tactic to Latvian companies at our local FoodExpo.

Alina Radzeviča, senior project manager, who also visited the SIAL exhibition, adds that, when thinking about potential collaborations, the company must be honest with itself and with the potential partner. For example, when a manufacturer is not yet represented in the EU, it is important to understand whether Baltic States will be a sufficiently large and feasible market for this company to enter Europe. It is necessary to understand whether the manufacturer will be able to provide logistics, whether the target audience of the brand will be located in these countries (for example, if it is something expensive and exclusive, you should definitely start with countries that are better developed). Alina shared recommendations for visiting the exhibition:

  • It is valuable to familiarize yourself with the list of participants and plan potential meetings before the exhibition, in order to avoid situations when there is a cool potential cooperation partner, but when you address them at their stand, you hear: "The responsible person is currently in a meeting and cannot provide information", "Boss went somewhere and we cannot comment for now".
  • In the last days, everyone is already tired and unmotivated; it is difficult to communicate, so plan most of the activities during the first days of the exhibition.
  • The majority follows the logic of starting with the exhibition hall no. 1 and then consecutively visiting the others, which is probably why crowds are formed in many places. Therefore, it is worth beginning at the other end, or better yet, developing your route prioritizing the exhibition halls you are interested in.
  • Comfortable shoes - a must-have.