October 12, 2022

Meeting face to face at SIAL Paris 2022 is key to owning the change and overcoming the challenges of tomorrow

In an exclusive interview with SIAL Daily, Nicolas Trentesaux, CEO Sial Network, welcomes exhibitors and visitors back to Paris Nord Villepinte

Mr Trentesaux explains how this year’s trade show has all the right ingredients to support members of the agri-food industry in conducting business and preparing for the future.

With SIAL around the corner, can you paint us a picture of what you are expecting?
As most people are aware, we’ve gone four years without a trade show here in Paris. This is really the global event par excellence which attracts people from around the world, with more than 7,000 exhibitors from more than 130 countries, and 300,000 visitors over five days. So it’s really the size of this international event which makes it unique. There hasn’t been a rendez-vous like this for the agri-food industry since 2019, so this year we are really pleased to be organising an event that will match previous editions. Because in terms of mobilisation, we can say that we are back to pre-Covid levels. Since trade shows started opening up in the summer of 2021, we’ve seen an acceleration in terms of people wanting to sign-up to ‘physical events’. During Covid, people were exploring digital options of course, but as soon as they were given the green light that they could attend trade shows again, they were very quick to respond. I think this shows just how important trade shows are for the agri-food industry, because it remains the best way to meet a big amount of people in the smallest amount of time, meet producers from around the world, and discover the latest innovations. The importance of simply bringing exhibitors and visitors together therefore remains very strong.

What are some of the key highlights of this year’s show?
This year we have around 15 new countries attending SIAL Paris and in particular some exhibitors from Africa, who were not here in 2018. So we have a very rich and diverse show, with some 450,000 products being presented over five days, making it by far one of the biggest agri-food meetings in the world. We will be using all of the exhibition space at Paris Nord Villepinte and even more, because we are building an extra building. This makes SIAL the biggest French trade show in comparison to other industries.

This year we have also scheduled the show from Saturday to Wednesday, whereas normally it was from Sunday to Thursday. This small change in dates will help balance visitors’ timetables between two days on the weekend, when we expect more international visitors, and three weekdays for people who are closer to home. It will also make people’s visit more comfortable in terms of transport links.

SIAL’s ethos is really about business, inspiration and networking, the latter of which is at the heart of what we do. To develop this element further we have developed a digital catalogue which offers far more opportunities for exhibitors to present their products in as much detail as they want. It also serves as a digital market place for visitors, who can continue to do business even after the show has ended.

We also produce a lot of content through our events SIAL Innovation, the Future Lab and SIAL Insights. This is important because when you look at the global agri-food industry, it’s mainly made up of SMEs who don’t have big marketing departments and who are therefore also here to learn about the latest trends and forecasts. This helps them make better choices and develop their strategy in the short-medium term.

We cannot wait for the transition to arrive, we must rise to the challenge, assume our position and be a part of the solution.

What are the main themes at SIAL Paris 2022?
We have a wide range of conferences taking place, with more than 100 speakers over the five days. We are trying to cover a maximum number of topics, relevant to the challenges facing the agri-food industry. These have been structured around key themes on different days. So in chronological order we have a day focusing on technological revolutions in the agri-food industry, then we will be looking at the food transition, followed by CSR and sustainability, replenishment and finally, nutrition, focusing on alternative forms of consumption like plant-based foods which today have become increasingly popular. Through these five themes we are looking to address the main concerns of the industry during and after the show.

Do you have a message for the industry?
I think the challenge of feeding the world’s population has not changed and even though the road ahead is clear, we don’t necessarily have the solutions in place to overcoming this problem. This challenge is at the heart of an event like SIAL Paris, to better understand how we are going to feed 10 billion people tomorrow while respecting the planet and meeting consumers’ demands, which are increasingly focused on pleasure, health etc. So I think we must all work together to find solutions or, for those who have come up with a solution, to share their good practices with the rest of the industry. I would like to encourage everyone to be an active part of this transition. We cannot wait for the transition to arrive, we must rise to the challenge, assume our position and be a part of the solution. So whether we are talking about big brands or SMEs, everyone needs to own the change.

Photo: Nicolas Trentesaux, CEO Sial Network (© Pascal Montary)