SIAL Shanghai – a symphony of world cuisine

March 14, 2024

Excitement is building now that SIAL Shanghai, which is expected to attract 5,000 exhibitors and more than 180,000 food sector professionals, is less than three months away.

Set to be held from 28 to 30 May at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, the show – which will have around 200,000 square metres of exhibition space – will feature eight Highlight Sectors as well as an array of national and regional pavilions.

Attendees will arrive from an array of countries, with the largest number of international visitors from previous shows coming from Japan, followed by South Korea, France, Australia, Russia, Spain, Singapore, Canada, Italy and Malaysia.

Visitors will also be arriving from across China. Shanghai, as expected, provides the biggest contribution in terms of numbers, but other cities and provinces are well represented, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shandong, Beijing, Henan, Fujian, Anhui and Hebei.

SIAL Shanghai last year attracted exhibitors from new fewer than 67 countries and regions, with more than 1,500 international exhibitors gathering at the event.

Nations as varied as Brazil, Egypt, Georgia, India, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Turkey and the United States were represented among the contingent of exhibitors, to name just a few.

There were also more than 3,000 exhibitors from China representing 34 provincial-level administrative regions in the country.

It is appropriate that SIAL Shanghai will have a very international flavour as this supersized city, which has a population of around 25 million, has a culinary scene that boasts influences from across the globe.

These foreign cuisines can be found among the street food available, in the international restaurants and in the city’s food shops and supermarkets.

Much of the street food, of course, is Chinese, but this too is highly diverse, as it reflects the country’s varied regional cuisines. There is certainly much more to choose from than Shanghai fried noodles, popular though this dish is in the city.

Many of Shanghai’s favourite international restaurants are located in the city’s high-end hotels, such as Merchant Kitchen, which is in the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Shanghai Pudong.

In the hotel chain’s own words, this all-day restaurant is “inspired by merchant cities around the world” and offers “elaborate buffets and a la carte dishes in a casual setting”.

SIAL Shanghai - a symphony of world cuisine

Photo credit: Ding Lu / Unsplash

According to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, there are no fewer than 12,000 restaurants in Shanghai that specialise in foreign food.

This seems to be an extraordinary number, but is explained by Shanghai’s vast population and the fact that the city has an exceptionally high density of food outlets.

Among the many other successful international food outlets in the city are the two branches of the Efes Restaurant, which has been highlighted by some visitors for being vegan friendly.

In addition to restaurants and street vendors selling foreign and regional fare, Shanghai also boasts a wealth of supermarkets that stock food imported from across the globe.

To give a few examples, La Boqueria sells imported Spanish food and beverages, 1004 Mart has a huge variety of Korean products, while Baker & Spice is an artisanal bakery and deli that retails the likes of bagels and baguettes.

Indeed there are countless dozens of outlets in the city that focus on imported or foreign-style foods, so visitors to the city or those fortunate enough to live in Shanghai are unlikely to have difficulty buying products from any cuisine that appeals to them.

Just as Shanghai has much to offer food lovers, so SIAL Shanghai is full of interesting features. Among them are the eight Highlight Sectors, which are the Baby Food Village, the Organic and Wellness Village, the Dairy Sector, the Food Sector, the Meat, Poultry and Cured Meat Sector, the Seafood Sector, the Non-alcoholic Beverage Sector and the Alcoholic Beverage Sector.

There will also be a wide range of events and activities, including the Chic & Tea Contest and the SIAL CUP Barista Challenge, among much else.

Running concurrently with SIAL Shanghai is the SIAL Global Food Industry Summit, which features nine sub-forums, among them the Food-Tech innovation Forum and the F&B Distributor Forum.

SIAL Shanghai - a symphony of world cuisine

Photo credit: Kin Li / Unsplash

While SIAL Shanghai is fast approaching, it is not the only SIAL event in China this year, because it will be followed just a few months later by SIAL Shenzhen.

Taking place from 2 to 4 September, it will feature more than 1,500 exhibitors and 67,000 food industry professionals from China and across the world. The exhibition space will be around 60,000 square metres.

As well as national and regional pavilions, SIAL Shenzhen will have three Highlight Sectors – the Chinese Food and Beverage Village, the International Food and Beverage Village and the International Meat Village.

SIAL Shenzhen is particularly successful at attracting visitors from South-East Asia, with the top three nations in terms of international attendees being Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, while Vietnam and Indonesia are also among the top 10 nations in terms of visitor numbers. The top 10 also includes visitors from Russia, Australia, Argentina, Iran and South Korea.

When it comes to domestic visitors, Guangdong tops the list, followed by Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Zhejiang, Fujian, Beijing, Hunan, Sichuan and Shangdong.


  • Djazagro, Algiers : 22-25 April 2024
  • SIAL Canada, Montreal : 15-17 May 2024
  • SIAL in China, Shanghai : 28-30 May 2024
  • Food and Drinks by SIAL Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur :  02-04 July 2024
  • SIAL in China, Shenzhen : 02-04 September 2024
  • Gourmet Selection, Paris : 15-16 September 2024
  • SIAL Paris : 19-23 October 2024
  • SIAL INTERFOOD Indonesia, Jakarta :  13-16 November 2024
  • SIAL In India, New Delhi : 05-07 December 2024

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