SIAL celebrates 60 years: A retrospective of food innovation

June 12, 2024

SIAL Paris is celebrating its 60th anniversary by revisiting the past six decades of food sector evolution, highlighting significant innovations and their impact on dining habits over the years.

SIAL Paris is commemorating its 60th anniversary by taking a comprehensive look back at six transformative decades in the food industry. From the introduction of microwaves in the 1960s to the rise of plant-based substitutes today, SIAL has been at the forefront of documenting and driving food innovation. This journey through time not only highlights key milestones but also offers insights into future trends, supported by exclusive data from a recent Kantar study.

The 1960s: Microwaves revolutionise kitchens

The 1960s saw the advent of the microwave oven, a technological marvel that forever changed the way we prepare and consume food. First introduced to American households, microwaves offered a quick and convenient cooking method, making meal preparation faster and more efficient. By 1979, the first consumer microwave was available in France, marking a significant shift towards convenience in French kitchens. This innovation paved the way for ready-to-eat meals, fundamentally altering daily cooking practices.

The 1970s: The PET bottle emerges

The 1970s introduced another groundbreaking innovation: the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle. Pepsi was among the first to adopt this lightweight, durable, and clear plastic for beverage packaging. By the 1990s, PET bottles had become a standard in France, particularly for bottled water. Despite its popularity, environmental concerns are now challenging the dominance of PET bottles, leading consumers to consider alternatives like tap water and filtration systems.

The 1980s: Fair trade label Max Haavelar

In the 1980s, the creation of the Max Haavelar fair trade label marked a significant step towards ethical consumption. This label assured consumers that products like coffee were sourced under fair trade conditions, promoting better economic, social, and environmental standards for producers in developing countries. Today, numerous labels and certifications guide consumer choices, reflecting growing awareness and demand for transparency in food sourcing.

The 1990s: Soy steaks and plant-based diets

The 1990s brought the first soy steak to France, introduced by Sojasun. This was a pivotal moment for plant-based diets, offering a viable alternative to meat amid rising health and environmental concerns. Today, the plant-based market is booming, with a variety of substitutes available, catering to an increasingly flexitarian population. According to the Kantar study, over half of the French population has consumed plant-based meat substitutes in the past year.

The 2000s: The drive-thru revolution

The early 2000s saw the rise of the drive-thru in France, starting in Marcq-en-Barœul near Lille. This innovation met the growing demand for convenience, allowing consumers to shop for groceries without leaving their cars. The popularity of drive-thrus surged, especially during the COVID pandemic, as they provided a safe and efficient shopping alternative. This era also marked the beginning of e-commerce and home delivery services, further transforming retail landscapes.

The 2010s: Environmental impact and carbon reduction

The last decade has seen a significant shift towards sustainability, with a focus on reducing the environmental impact of food production and packaging. Brands now prominently display their carbon footprint and environmental commitments on packaging. This trend is driven by increasing consumer awareness and demand for eco-friendly products. The Kantar study reveals that nearly two-thirds of French consumers consider the carbon footprint of their food choices important.

As SIAL Paris celebrates its 60th anniversary, the exhibition remains a vital platform for food professionals to explore new technologies and sustainable practices.

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