Ricardo Márquez, director of Alimentaria FoodTech: “Alimentaria FoodTech is the only transversal food equipment trade fair in Spain, which allows us to multiply our business opportunities”
In October, Ricardo Márquez will lead Alimentaria FoodTech for the second consecutive year, with the aim of consolidating the exhibition as a benchmark meeting point for business in the sector. To this end, the show is growing this year by strengthening its transversality, thus expanding the synergies between different actors in the sector. On the other hand, the change of dates in the celebration of the show allows an optimal situation in the fair calendar. In addition to these objectives, the international profile of Ricardo Márquez invites to think about a growth in the internationalization of the fair. With an MBA from ESADE and a BA in Business from Oakland (USA), Márquez has previously held the position of Area Manager for Qatar in Fira Barcelona’s International Business Department, and is currently also director of Alimentaria México.
In this new edition of Alimentaria FoodTech all the links in the food processing chain will be able to be seen again. What do you expect from this edition and which are these sectors that can be seen in the show?
We are confident that Alimentaria FoodTech will consolidate its position as the Iberian Peninsula’s leading cross-sector trade show for innovation in food processing and preservation; this will be achieved through a representative range of technology, machinery and ingredients which is attractive to all sectors of the food industry. At the fair you will find processing equipment, packaging, labelling, industry 4.0, food safety, refrigeration, handling, storage and logistics, as well as intermediate food products (ingredients) and industrial and auxiliary services.
What is the fastest growing area of food technology?
At the show we are proud to provide a transversal offer that allows for diversified growth, which responds to the multi-sectoriality of the show’s exhibitors. Beyond this, we can say that in 2020 we will see a wider and more representative offer of packaging and ingredients. The offer of industry 4.0 will also grow as machinery and industrial processes are automated and digitized.
How has the show’s approach evolved and what stage is it at now?
Alimentaria FoodTech is a trade show designed to specifically serve the food and beverage processing and preservation industry in a cross-disciplinary manner. Conceptually, it is now easier to identify and understand the show based on what you will find at the exhibition: machinery, technology and ingredients for the food and beverage industry. We have also found a better positioning in a saturated calendar of fairs in different parts of the world, through which both the exhibitor and the visitor will be able to have a better experience preparing and taking advantage of the fair as a platform for innovation and business. With these new dates we have also achieved a great location in Hall 2 of Fira Barcelona’s Gran Vía venue, something that will benefit the experience of all participants.
How does the exhibitor take on the separate celebration of thematically related events such as Hispack and Alimentaria FoodTech?
The exhibitor understands perfectly the separation between these two fairs because he knows that this occurs because of the great specialization of the sector and the mentioned calendar. Packaging (and labelling) is a vertical industry in food processing and conservation. As such, it is an integral part of the product value chain and therefore an integral part of Alimentaria FoodTech. This is clearly understood by exhibitors at both shows. Therefore, the majority of packaging exhibitors who have a significant presence in the food sector have accepted the new specialisation proposal.
How is the recruitment of exhibitors at the show progressing?
It is progressing at a very good pace. Now, 8 months before the fair, more than 70% of the space has been contracted, considering, moreover, that in 2020 this space will grow by 15% with respect to 2018. Most of the sector leaders have already confirmed their participation.
Does the show still stand out for its high levels of exhibitor loyalty?
Yes, this will be the 16th edition of Alimentaria FoodTech and we will have exhibitors who have found business opportunities at the show since the first editions. The show responds to the needs of the sector, so exhibitors continue to be committed to participating. The triennial nature of the exhibition synchronises perfectly with the equipment and machinery renewal cycles, so the show represents the ideal forum for doing business.
What is the management’s level of satisfaction with the results of the show so far?
The degree of satisfaction is high, since in addition to the contracting rate, at this time we value highly the intangible results; for example, responding to the needs of the industry through the evolution of the offer and logistics of the show, something that we can only measure in the acceptance by the industry, which continues to bet on Alimentaria FoodTech as the reference show.
How is the international presence at the show promoted?
Mainly by working on two fronts. On the one hand, the show’s offer will maintain a significant percentage of internationalization: almost 20% of exhibitors are international, mainly from Europe; this complements the offer, which is attractive for national visitors who sometimes look for answers that they cannot find in the local market. On the other hand, the demand of the fair: in response to the business or international needs of many exhibitors, we work the international demand in an organic way through promotion in different markets by partners with international presence (i.e. amec and ICEX) and half local partners and in an inorganic way through a reinforced program of international buyers; in 2020 we will double the amount of Hosted Buyers of 2018 to have more than 100 buyers mainly from Latin America and Southeast Asia.
With such a varied offer, how are Alimentaria FoodTech’s spaces divided?
The exhibition area will be as transversal as the offer of the fair. Taking into account the diversity of exhibitors’ business, the exhibition space will have little segmentation; mainly ingredients exhibitors will have their particular location on the floor plan. There will also be 4 areas which will complement the exhibition area: the Ingrenova area where the most innovative intermediate food products will be presented; the exhibition area, within the Innovation Meeting Point, for research institutions and technology centres which will present the most innovative projects developed internally or in conjunction with sector leaders; also at the Innovation Meeting Point is the area for start-ups and technology-based companies; and finally the conference room specialising in relevant industry issues, also at the Innovation Meeting Point.
The conferences are an important element in the celebration of the show in order to define the future trends of the sector. What topics can be found in the panel of papers?
Alimentaria FoodTech has two types of knowledge transfer programmes. On the one hand, all those attending the show can visit the Innovation Meeting Point’s Speakers’ Corner, where research and innovation institutions or associations, technology centres and start-ups will give presentations and lectures on products, services and success stories in innovation at the service of the food and beverage industry. On the other hand, Alimentaria FoodTech presents three professional conferences specialising in subjects which set the industry’s present and future course: sustainability, the circular economy, industry 4.0 and food safety.
Will the Innova FoodTech and Emprende FoodTech awards still be held?
Yes, the Innova FoodTech and Emprende FoodTech Awards are a direct channel of the fair to recognize, from the hand of a Scientific Committee and Technical Jury, the most relevant innovation and advances for the food and beverage processing and conservation industry. The Scientific Committee of Alimentaria FoodTech has done a great job in updating the participation rules and evaluation criteria of the projects presented, thus guaranteeing that the winners will once again be leaders or future leaders of the industry with projects in line with the current needs of the industry. The Innova FoodTech Award will, as always, be exclusively for exhibitors at the fair, while the Emprende Award will be convened and promoted by the fair and the Scientific Committee throughout the country through its action networks at both the private and academic levels.
What would you say to the professionals of the sector who ask you why they should come to this fair?
I would tell them that Alimentaria FoodTech is the national reference fair for innovation and technology for all food sectors because it is the only one that integrates the entire value chain of product transformation and preservation. Industry professionals will find the most transversal and representative offer at the show thanks to the diversity of exhibitors: from large multinationals to companies with products and services which are totally adaptable to the needs of large, medium and small food and beverage companies. By bringing together national and international demand, including all participants in the Alimentaria Barcelona exhibition, Alimentaria FoodTech provides business opportunities at a national level while allowing exhibitors to expand their borders and visitors to find, in an integrated manner, solutions to all their production and business needs. The 35,000 m2 of exhibition space will undoubtedly be the ideal meeting point for the entire industry.