October 17, 2022

Tasting the flavours of innovation at SIAL Paris 2022

In an exclusive interview with the SIAL Daily, Sacha Coutellier Food Buyer at Compass Group France, explains what he is looking for at the trade show

Plant-based alternatives and shorter ingredient lists are just some of the new tendencies to look out for.

What brings you to SIAL? I am a buyer with Compass Group, which is one of the leading food distributors in the world and has around 2,200 sites across France. My focus is primarily on dairy products and plant-based alternative foods. So my priority at SIAL Paris 2022 is meeting with prospective suppliers to see what new products are available on the market.

This year, I am particularly interested in catered products, which can be served as a main dish, or vegetable based products like patties but that are wheat or pea based rather than soy. It is also very interesting for me to walk around and discover the latest food innovations – and I think this year, there will be a lot of new plant-based products at the trade show.

What are the main trends which are shaping your decisions? Globally speaking, people in France are turning towards “made in France products” or more local products. At the same time, they are less interested in products which have been highly transformed. Especially since the end of the pandemic, more and more people have been cooking at home and using raw products rather than those which have been manufactured or transformed. Today when we look at a product, we want to have the shortest possible list of ingredients. The last big trend is more vegetarian products, with more and more people adopting a flexitarian diet and eating more vegetables.

The products which are really doing well on the market today are plant-based steaks and veggie patties.

So what do you think the average plate of food will look like in 2050? This is a difficult question but I think either we will have covered a lot of ground in which case there will be more insects, but for now this has not been fully developed. Or we will see more plant-based alternatives, with local ingredients and without any additives or chemicals. And I think we will see more of these alternatives in all dishes, including starters, mains, desserts etc.

How important are global events like SIAL? It serves two fundamental purposes – the first is being able to taste products, which as you can imagine in the food industry is very important. So being able to meet suppliers and get a real feel for what it is they are doing. The second is that, after two years of Covid, we have become accustomed to communicating over video. It therefore enables us to reconnect with our suppliers and creates much needed moments of exchange.