SIAL Canada takes place this year in Montreal from May 2 to 4, with more than 1,000 national and international exhibitors. Onsite experts include Jean-Sebastien Michel, and here he gives the scoop on trends in the beverage sector
Montreal – SIAL Canada takes place this year in Montreal from May 2 to 4. The show will feature more than 1,000 national and international exhibitors – Spain is the country of honour – and expects more than 18,500 visitors. This year’s roster of events includes:
> The SIAL Innovation contest.
> Canada’s largest extra-virgin olive oil competition, Olive d’Or.
> An Atlantic Pavilion, which is new this year.
> The SIAL Food Hub.
> The Experts’ Hub of industry professionals with expertise in certain sectors, all of whom will be onsite.
> Culinary demonstrations at La Cuisine by SIAL.
> Two new sections: one for cheeses and microbrewery beers, and the other for drinks.
And finally, there’s SoSIAL, a program that will collect all food products at the end of the show and distribute them to local food banks.
Spotlight on beverages at SIAL
SIAL’s beverage expert is Jean-Sebastien Michel, president of Alambika and Jesemi Distribution, two companies that specialize in wine, beer, spirits and cocktail ingredients and accessories. Food in Canada spoke to Michel about drink trends for 2018.
Q: What beverage trends will make a splash this year?
A: “Simple, short, high-quality lists of ingredients; not too much processing or preservatives. We’ll also see more ethical alternatives, such as ‘ugly’ fruits used in juices and sodas, and unaltered natural wines or ciders. We’ll see sugarless sodas, zero-caffeine colas. Mocktails or cocktailswithout, or with very low, alcohol content are here to stay. Another trend is using local sources of acidity instead of citrus. Shrubs (a mix of fruit juice, sugar and vinegar), verjuice (made by pressing the juice of unripe grapes) and surette (a tart apple molasses made in Canada that is gaining international love) are giving new life to old recipes.”
Q: Are the trends different between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages?
A: “We see common trends such as health, a newfound love of terroir, local plants (such as northern berries, pine trees, apples), and simplicity.”
Q: What’s new in beverage packaging?
A: “Plastic is making a comeback as it is lightweight and uses less energy to transport and is less prone to breakage. Heavy, apothecary-type packaging for cocktails, or bright and colourful packaging for health juices are still there. Clean labels instead of gimmicks.”
Q: How have consumers’ attitudes changed?
A: “People are far more curious and open to innovation. I remember talking about craft tonics and seeing people’s eyes glaze over. Now they expect to see new products. It is especially true with craft beer where there isn’t a lot of brand loyalty; craft beer lovers want the latest special releases.”
Q: Which trends or consumer behaviours should manufacturers watch closely?
A: “Cutting corners won’t cut it anymore. Consumers want integrity and an appealing, genuine brand message. The beverage market is getting increasingly crowded and former distinctions are starting to blur with crossover products. I believe hedonistic products designed to have a limited negative impact on consumers’ health will keep doing well. We want to have fun, drink pleasurable products and keep doing so until we grow old.