Algae marmalade, anyone? Future of food is on the table at Paris show

Acai, kimchi, black garlic and yuzu juice: countries are vying to conquer global plates, and palates, with their homegrown specialities at the International Food Fair, which opened in Paris.

From Brazil to South Korea, 105 countries boasting 400,000 products are present at the fair, which offers a window into the future of food, from traditional know-how that could make its way onto modern plates to hi-tech inventions.

And innovation is back on the table, with 1,700 new concepts served up at this year’s show.

“The market is going to explode with nine billion humans to feed in the next 30, 40 years. You need to position yourself now, especially with the explosion of the middle class in Asia and even Africa who all want access to diversity in their food,” said Nicolas Trentesaux, president of the exhibition.

The food fair, celebrating its 50th edition, has grown 10 per cent in two years.

South Korea, present for the second time, has brought 28 companies keen to make themselves known.

“Compared to Japan or China our products are still largely unknown,” said Kim Young-bum, director of the Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Organisation.

On display are large clay pots showing the process used to ferment vegetables and make kimchi, a staple of the Korean diet, as well as novel dishes such as algae chips, algae marmalade and smoked oysters.

While already well known for dishes such as sushi, miso soup and ramen, Japan believes it still has something new to offer global palates.

Black garlic – a Kyoto speciality in which the herb is caramelised – buckwheat noodles, leek oil and organic juice from the citrus fruit yuzu are all on show.

“We aren’t here necessarily to sign contracts but above all to make ourselves known,” said Yuzuke Kuzuhara, director of food processing for Japan External Trade Organisation.

Brazil, already a big exporter of coffee, sugar, soya, beef, chicken and fruit juice, hopes to reap some US$1 billion in new contracts at the food show.

Aside from raw products, Brazil hopes to promote specialities such as acai berries – the fruit of a palm tree grown in the Amazon that’s delicious when juiced and considered a “superfood” for its antioxidant qualities.

Xavier Terlet, a specialist in food innovation working for the show, said the industry had to adapt to new demands from consumers.

For instance, they are becoming more sensitive to food waste.

“The industry has yet to understand this behaviour. It continues to promote family formats, overpackaging, rather than smaller doses, like a 100 gram packet of flour to make one cake,” he said.

There is also a return to a culture of “do it yourself”, with companies promoting kits to brew beer or to grow mushrooms in coffee dregs.


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