On the eve of the SIAL (Salon International de l’Alimentation) international food exhibition, which runs from October 16-20 in Paris, frozen products are already big winners. Divino USA will receive the coveted SIAL Innovation Award in the frozen foods category for its line of gelato-filled fruit, while Lyon, France-based Ici & La’s Le Boucher Vert has copped the top prize in the Health & Naturalness category for its frozen organic meat substitute. Both will be honored, along with other winners, during a special awards ceremony at 5 PM on October 17 in Hall 6 of the Paris Nord Villepinte fairgrounds.
Divino USA’s distinctive line of gelato-filled fruit shells, handcrafted at a facility along the Amalfi coast of southern Italy, features lemon, peach, plum, tangerine and kiwi flavors. Two servings come per 85-gram retail package.
Here’s how the manufacturer describes the production process: “We take each natural fruit, halve them and scoop out the pulp by hand. Next we take the pulp, add water and nine grams of cane sugar to make a delicious Italian sorbet in the flavor of the original fruit. We then place this sorbet back into the peel of the original fruit, flash freeze it and package it with both a serving tray and a spoon.”
One more thing: the product’s not-so-secret ingredient is volcanic water.
“While experts figure out all the beneficial properties of the volcanic water from Mt. Vesuvius that supplies our factory, we’ll just say that it makes things taste fresher, naturally,” states a posting at the company’s website.
For those who are sticklers about the difference between sorbet (generally juice- or wine-based) and gelato (typically milk-based), it should be pointed out that Divino markets its frozen confectionery treats as “gelato” because both ice cream and sorbet fall under the gelato category in Italy.
Le Boucher Vert
The youthful Le Boucher Vert team thoroughly impressed SIAL Innovation judges with its Steaks et Boulettes de Legumineuses offerings made of nutrient-rich vegetables and pulses. The soy-free, protein- and fiber-rich range features organic meat substitute green lentils, chickpea, flageolet bean steaks and balls.
Though the brand was just launched late last year, the company’s founders began experimenting with and creating faux meat concepts while still students back in 2013. Their since perfected recipes combine lentils with carrots, onions, herbs and mint. Consumers are advised to season the products with pepper sauce before pan-frying or oven cooking. Sautéed mushrooms or pommes frites may be added as a side dish to make a full meal.
Thousands of Products in Running
Held every two years, the SIAL Innovation Awards competition, which is open only to exhibitors, attracts entries from more than 100 countries around the world. This year there were 2,188 validated products from 942 companies in the initial running. The selection committee of revered food specialists narrowed the list down to over 600 products for the SIAL Innovation Book, then further pared it to 45 semi-finalists before an international grand jury ultimately designated 15 winners.
78% of Exhibitors Debut New Products
Approximately 160,000 food industry buyers, sellers and affiliates are expected to visit the show, where most of them will be looking for attractive and tasty new products as well as seeking to identify trends of the future.
“If 76% of professionals say they have discovered innovations here in the past, it’s because 78% of the exhibitors use this biennial event as an unveiling platform for their R&D team’s newest products,” said the show organizer.
Most of the companies present in SIAL’s Innovation area, which is frequented by around 75% of the exhibition’s visitors, see a large return on investment when their products win awards. It should therefore come as no surprise that 80% of 2014’s successful candidates entered the competition again this year.
Innovation – A Valuable Driver for Export
Those entering and faring well in the competition find it to be an effective business tool.
“We mentioned our awards in our brochure and on our website, which helped us put together a solid tax credit file for our research and innovation development,” said a spokesman from Vesseaux, France-based frozen fruit and vegetable puree specialist Boiron Surgélation.
The Catalan company Nice Fruit also included the SIAL Innovation Awards logo in “brochures, newsletters and promotional materials,” while Les Twists used its 2014 award as an internal tool to “congratulate everyone, including financial partners.”
Gateway to the ‘Big League’
“For those with an innovative product, SIAL Paris can make a real difference,” said a spokesman from Cité Gourmande, an Agen, France-based potato products specialist.
“Launching innovative products at SIAL Paris is vastly important. It’s the perfect platform for presenting new food items to the world,” added a representative from Boiron Surgélation. “SIAL Paris lets you have your products tried and tested by potential customers. You have to be there!”