When you visit SIAL, a world of flavor comes to you. This international showcase of fresh and packaged food products is where trends are confirmed when buyers place orders for retail and foodservice venues around the world.

When you visit SIAL, a world of flavor comes to you. This international showcase of fresh and packaged food products is where trends are confirmed when buyers place orders for retail and foodservice venues around the world.

The 22nd session of this global exhibition occurred in Paris this past October. The show included 5,302 exhibitors from 99 countries. There was a 3% increase in visitor numbers (as compared to the 2004 show), which totaled 140,423 over 5 days, with an 11% increase in international participation.

One of the essential stops at SIAL is the Trends & Innovations pavillion, where visitors get a glimpse of food trends in-the-making. The showcase includes samples of many exhibitors most recent innovations and helps manufacturers, distributors and caterers understand the latest developments while providing sources of inspiration and creative solutions. It explores the connections between consumer behavior and the ideas and concepts that create individual awareness of food products.

The 2006 exhibition also included a new product showcase of 458 recent innovations. There was a special “Coups de Cœur,” or “Judges’ Favorites,” which were the very best new products of 2006 as selected by a panel of professionals and innovation experts, illustrating key trends and developments in the international market. The panel selected 20 products as their favorites. Favorites included products combining practicality with contemporary design; products that consumers can customize for their own purposes; products offering health and lifestyle benefits; and innovative, delicious products that cater to a variety of everyday situations, creating moments of pleasure throughout the day.

Two fresh dairy products were Coups de Cœur. From Switzerland’s Nutrifrais SA there’s Tamtop, which is a custard dessert in a cup that is designed to be turned upside down onto a plate for serving. The custard is separated from a flavored coulis (thick fruit puree) by a fine membrane to keep the two separate until serving time. The judges selected Tamtop for its technological innovation in retaining the freshness of the custard and the flavor of the coulis.

From Granarolo SPA of Italy there’s Yogurt Yomo Frutta & Verdura. This line of low-fat yogurts contains a fruit and vegetable combination. The various flavors are mango and pumpkin, pineapple and fennel, bilberry and carrot, strawberry and tomato, and apple and spinach. The judges picked this concept for originality in the use of fruits and vegetables in yogurt.

The dairy hall was alive and thriving with innovation. Emmi Schweiz AG, Switzerland’s leading producer of fresh dairy products and cheese, introduced Lassi, a yogurt drink of Indian origin. It is a blend of fresh fruits and cultured milk, with every serving containing no less than 20% select fresh fruit. This high content of fruit to which Lassi owes its unmistakably fruity taste, means there is no need for added flavorings, colorings or preservatives, according to the company. The handpicked fruits are carefully deep frozen immediately after harvesting. Later they are added directly to the fresh, creamy yogurt drink and stirred in gently. The result is a high-quality exotic delight.

Famous for its signature cheeses, Emmi introduced the Kaltbach line of natural cheeses. These cave-aged cheeses, which come in Emmental, Gruyere, Fondue and Raclette varieties, are identifiable not only by their unique taste, but also by their appearance. The black-brown surface finish is the natural product of a process involving long aging and painstaking care in the mineralized air of the Emmi sandstone cave. The thinner the rind, the better is the cheese. The Emmi master cheesemakers devote a great deal of time to this detail. The cheeses mature in the sandstone cave in Kaltbach, Switzerland, which is the brand name’s origin. They develop a uniquely intensive aroma after about six months.

Emmi also introduced Raclette des Grisons, which is a convenient raclette kit for picnics and entertaining. Each kit contains a portable grill, four tea lights, a wooden scraper and slices of Emmi raclette cheese. This raclette is produced in the canton of Grisons.

Italy’s Dalter Alimentari debuted Parmagiano-Reggiano baskets. This innovative product is created by heating freshly grated cheese until a compound is achieved. It is then shaped by special molds and cooled, becoming a thick and crunchy wafer that is ready to be filled and served as an appetizer. The baskets are sold 12 to a tray and have a 90-day ambient temperature shelflife. The company is very into convenience, and recently made its high-quality Parmesan cheese available in upscale individual-portion cups.

Spain’s AB Technologies Alimentaires also adds convenience to cheese with new Squizzi. This liquid cheese line provides an innovative way for creative cooks to dress up foods with cheese. The cheeses are uniquely processed to make them squeezable, yet still have the texture of cheese. Squizzi comes in three varieties: Blue, Camembert and Goat.

Mark your calendars for the next SIAL, which will take place Oct. 19-23, 2008, in Paris. For more information, visit www.sial.fr.