SIAL’s virtual food week a success – results exceeded expectations
The 17th edition of the International Food & Beverage Tradeshow (SIAL Canada) and its section for the equipment and technology sectors (SET Canada) was 100 per cent virtual this year, allowing the industry to come together and do business despite the restrictions in place. The show was rebranded as Food Week and held from September 28 to October 2.
The virtual edition had 250 exhibitors and brands from more than 31 countries and roughly 18,340 connections from more than 112 countries. According to Xavier Poncin, SIAL Canada’s executive director, the 2020 edition confirms the necessity for such an event, especially in the current circumstances where the food industry is looking for business-related support. “As in many other industries, it’s been a difficult year for event organizers. However, with tremendous support from the food industry and an incredible team, we were able to find the energy to rapidly reinvent ourselves,” he said. “The results exceeded our expectations for a first edition of this type — whether in terms of participation in the virtual show itself, the buyers program, or the virtual conferences — and we have rarely witnessed quite this much enthusiasm.”
SIAL Innovation winners
During the first day of the show, the three big winners of SIAL Innovation’s contest were unveiled as part of a live virtual ceremony. A total of 38 applications were submitted to take part in this 13th edition of the competition. The 10 finalists were: LOC Industries, Fromagerie l’Ancêtre, Juçaí, Art Kombucha, Ideal Aluminum, William Spartivento Coffee, Top Glaciers Inc., WOW! Factor Desserts, and Boréal Foods.
Art Kombucha is the winner of the SIAL Innovation 2020 Gold Grand Prize, for its beer fermented using kombucha culture. It won for the original way in which it marries two popular beverages and for the many attributes that make it so attractive to its target market: 5% alcohol, only 130 calories, no residual sugar, versatility of use and contemporary design.
Ideal Aluminum is the 2020 Silver Grand prize winner, for its 100 per cent compostable box for roast chicken. The box is made from recycled plant material, does an excellent job of retaining the heat of the chicken and is very easy to handle, both for the operator and the consumer.
The Bronze winner is LOC Industries for its vegan butter made from a mixture of vegetable oil and aquafaba, with no palm oil. The quality of the finished product also provides a texture and profile that’s very similar to butter, thereby allowing it to be replaced in equal quantities in a wide variety of applications.
On the third day of the virtual show, the Pitch Competition ceremony took place, bringing together more than 50 participants. This competition is incredibly close to SIAL Canada’s heart — and the hearts of its partners Niagara College Canada, Mitacs, Nielsen, CTAQ, the City of Montreal, Mycélium, and Sobeys —who are keen to support up-and-coming companies.
Art Kombucha won first prize in the food company category. Its product features impressive biochemistry that lets it achieve the desired alcohol levels and a process that’s ready to be scaled up — which includes sterile filtration to ensure food safety. Second prize in this category was awarded to Les Snorôs for its waffle made from “ugly” vegetables. It’s also grounded in the main drivers of innovation: nutrition and sustainability. The product is ready to be scaled up and brought to market.
Novagrow won first prize in the technology company category for its indoor garden product which aligns food, health, and culinary trends by allowing consumers to grow vegetables, herbs and microgreens anywhere in their homes. Critical elements, such as water and light, are automatically controlled for improved results. Its strong marketing potential completely won over the jury members. Second prize winner Bello Solutions has created a sustainable product by purifying water, limiting the use of water bottles, and even stimulating creativity. Consumers can personalize the flavours of their drinks and even add minerals if they want.
The virtual format of SIAL Canada/SET Canada this year confirmed that business can be conducted in a virtual setting, and we had more countries visiting the show than ever before — 112! For 2021, we will continue to combine our efforts across both virtual and face-to-face platforms, to the benefit of all our participants. SIAL Canada 2021 will be a hybrid show, offered in Toronto, Ont. next September.