Vitafoods International 2009 Defies the Credit Crunch to Deliver Its Biggest Show Yet

This year’s installment of Vitafoods International and Finished Products Expo has bucked the global trend to deliver an eight per cent increase in visitor numbers on the 2008 event. More than 8,400 senior attendees (a 6% increase on 2008) from the functional food and drink, cosmeceutical and nutraceutical industries passed through the doors of the Geneva Palexpo last week, making it the largest event in the exhibition’s twelve year history.

And that’s not all. This year’s show was also 15% larger in floor space terms, housing over 500 exhibitors and showing that even in the face of a global recession, Vitafoods International is absolutely the show for anyone serious about doing business in the industry, as Craig McIntosh, CEO of Waitaki Biosciences explains:

“Between the global economic downturn and the swine flu scares, there was no one at the show who wasn’t 100% serious – the quality of attendees and exhibitors was higher than ever and it was undoubtedly our most successful fair yet.”

The show’s organisers delivered a jam-packed event over three consecutive days at the start of May, with two new features VitaTrend, a joint initiative between Innova Market Insights and Vitafoods International brought together central trends on nutraceuticals and functional foods in several presentations indicating where we are heading in the health and wellness world.

Meanwhile, free tailored advisory sessions run by experts from EAS also offered visitors the chance to gain insights into the very latest regulatory and strategic advice on getting into the functional foods market, health claims, novel foods and labeling requirements. Product launches, tasting sessions and briefings also took place alongside the ever-popular chat show style discussion forum, extremely well-attended exhibitor presentations at the seminar theatre and highly esteemed Vitafoods International Conference.

Conference call
This year’s Vitafoods International Conference boasted a large number of senior-level delegates. Organisers Leatherhead Food International delivered a stellar line-up with the addition of four new technical streams to complement an already impressive programme. Sessions on Healthy Ageing, Beauty Foods, Nanotechnologies and a workshop on Natural Foods took place alongside presentations on Mental Health, Gut Health, Heart Health, Weight Management and Satiety and Marketing, delivering a comprehensive overview of the latest industry developments.

Top of people’s minds at this year’s show were the new European health claims regulations and these were debated animatedly at the annual Discussion Forum which was held on the 3rd day of the show. Basil Mathioudakis, Head of the Unit on Food Law, Nutrition and Labelling of the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection in the European Commission came together with Peter Van Doorn, Chairman of the European Federation of Associations of Health Products Manufacturers (EHPM) and Eduardo Escobedo from UNCTAD to discuss the implications that the new rulings could have on the industry.

And the international representation on the Discussion Forum panel was reflected across the rest of the show too, with visitors travelling from more than 77 countries around the globe and the number of international pavilions greater than ever before. Joining the established pavilions from USA, China, Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board, SIPPO (Swiss Import Promotion Programme), AWEX, France – Bretagne and WUSATA (Western US Agricultural Trade Association) were India and Nutravita (Auverge). And visitors to the show this year confirmed that the diversity of nationalities was once again what set Vitafoods International apart from its competitors.

Lora Gentcheva, Business Development Assistant at ewopharma, commented: “This is my first visit to Vitafoods International and I have been surprised by the huge diversity of companies exhibiting at the show. The whole industry is here, meaning it is a great place to make contacts and learn about new products and trends. There has also been a large international element, which I was pleased to see.”

Event Director, Chris Lee echoed these sentiments: “This year has been our most successful yet size-wise so we’re really pleased that the show has managed to more than hold its own in the current climate. The increased numbers of exhibitors and visitors shows that even when times are tough, companies value the show as one of, if not the key business event in the functional food, drink, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical calendar. And if we can deliver such a successful show in this climate, who knows what will happen next year when the economy starts to recover. Watch this space!”

The finishing line
But the success of the show doesn’t end there. In the neighboring hall, the ever-popular Finished Products Expo (FPE) was enjoying a new-found popularity of its own. Also with an increase in exhibitor and visitor numbers by 16% and 9% per cent respectively, the show offered insights, expertise and a vast collection of knowledge that belied its position as Vitafoods International’s ‘sister show.’

The Tasting Bar @ FPE was once again a hive of activity as visitors queued to try out some of the latest innovations in the functional drink and functional food sector. At the end of each day, visitors and exhibitors waited patiently to hear the results of the brand new Tasting Bar Awards. Winners in the favourite functional drink category included Agrolabs, Inc for its Naturally Acai Xtra and Creamy Creation with its Forest Fruit low calorie diet meal replacement drink. In the favourite functional food category, NOW International won an award for its Almond Crunch Crunchy Clusters, VSI tasted success with its fruit and fibre bar and Nutribio was praised for its meal replacement bars for weight management.

Dr Catherine Judkins, Business Development Manager, Informed Sport confirmed this:
“We have been absolutely inundated with visitors to our stand over the last couple of days. We were here last year and can really see how Finished Products Expo has developed and is evolving. Our product has attracted great interest and as a result, we’ve made some really good contacts. The organisation is great and the link between Vitafoods International and Finished Products Expo works really well. It really is a key show in Europe and we hope to return and do some more great business in 2010.”

And Meredith Greiner, Marketing Manager, Nordic Naturals concluded: “Our goal for the show was to introduce Nordic Naturals’ new products and formulations to the international marketplace as well as to expand our international relationships. Finished Products Expo has been a great forum for this. The attendee traffic and interest has been very good and I am confident we will form new partnerships as a result. We will definitely be back next year!

Plans are already underway for Vitafoods International and Finished Products Expo 2010, which will once again be held at Geneva Palexpo on 18-20 May 2010. With many companies taking the opportunity to re-book their stands for 2010 during this year’s event, anyone looking to exhibit next year is encouraged to contact IIR Exhibitions on +44 (0)20 7017 7036 sooner rather than later.

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