Last month’s THAIFEX – World of Food Asia 2016 showed local and international visitors why its theme of “Thailand the Kitchen of the World” was indeed apt. Millette Manalo-Burgos reports.
ORGANISED by Koelnmesse in partnership with the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) and the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), the 13th edition of THAIFEX – World of Food Asia showcased an international selection of exhibitors, innovative products, celebrity baristas and aspiring chefs, as well as the latest F&B trends. The show was held at the massive Impact Exhibition and Convention Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, from May 25-29.
Apiradi Tantraporn, Thailand’s Minister of Commerce, said the food industry is one of the country’s high-potential industries. “With a robust agricultural base, the country has abundant agricultural produce that is turned into raw material in the food industry, which brings in major income for more than 10 million people in farming households and rural communities. With modern technology, the food industry helps increase the value of agricultural produce.”
She added that Thailand exports food products to more than 200 countries, and that Thai foods are among the world’s top five exported food products, which include rice, processed chicken, canned and processed seafood, frozen and processed prawns, and seasoning.
“The value of food products and processed agricultural products reaches more than 800 billion baht (US$22.4 billion) per year,” Tantraporn said. “The industry has not only strengthened Thailand’s food stability but has also enabled the country to become the food production base in the ASEAN region.” Tantraporn revealed that it is now the state’s policy to make Thailand the “kitchen of the world” and the ASEAN leader in food production, as well as expanding the investment channels in the world market to help steer the country’s food industry to sustainable growth. “The DITP will move forward in pushing exports of Thai food products, including the foodservice businesses, so that they enjoy continuous growth in the world market,” she elaborated.
This year’s THAIFEX – World of Food Asia, which was organised by the DITP of the Ministry of Commerce in partnership with the private sector, TCC and Germany’s Koelnmesse, plays a significant role in helping to create venues and trade opportunities for Thai food operators, said Tantraporn.
“This is an important strategy in pushing and developing trade expansion in new potential markets. The move also promotes Thailand’s competitiveness and expands export markets in line with government policies. Thai products have been widely accepted by the world community, especially our food products that make up the world’s top five exported foods,” the minister said.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of TCC, added that THAIFEX – World of Food Asia has always been a success due to the continued trilateral cooperation between the DITP, Koelnmesse and TCC. He explained: “As a private business chamber, we believe it is essential to support the great sorts of the government on such a worldly event, which in turn helps to boost
Thailand’s economy. is year, we saw participants come to Thailand from all types of food industries, including upstream, midstream and downstream. The show was the optimal platform for these participants to showcase foodservices, technologies, standards and innovations.”
Among the highlights of the trade show were conferences and networking sessions of players from both local and international F&B industries. Together, the World of Food Safety Conferences and the Asian Food Franchising Forum provided a platform for business matching and educational seminars. These informative programmes featured world-class professionals and experts who shared the latest food related innovations and trends on food safety and franchising. More than 100 CEOs and top management leaders from global corporations such as Cargill Meats (Thailand), McDonald’s, Sakae, General Mills and Tesco presented key research and case studies.
THAIFEX – World of Food Asia alsoChef Challenge, organised by Thailand Culinary Academy, World Association of Chef ’s Societies (WACS) and Koelnmesse. is year, the competition introduced a category called ‘Bakery & Pastry Challenge’. A panel of 30 internationally acclaimed chefs including 26 WACS-approved judges critiqued the aspiring chefs based on a number of criteria. Culinary showdowns THAIFEX – World of Food Asia also hosted the yearly Thailand Ultimate Chef Challenge, organised by Thailand Culinary Academy, World Association of Chef ’s Societies (WACS) and Koelnmesse. This year, the competition introduced a category called ‘Bakery & Pastry Challenge’. A panel of 30 internationally acclaimed chefs including 26 WACS-approved judges critiqued the aspiring chefs based on a number of criteria.
In the beverage section, the ASEAN Coffee Federation, Singapore Coffee Association, Barista Association of Thailand and Koelnmesse hosted this year’s highly anticipated interactive Celebrity Coee Bar, which brought together 16 of the world’s best baristas and judges, including three world barista champions — Japan’s Hidenori Izaki (World Barista Champion 2014), Greece’s Stefanos Domatiotis (World Brewers Cup Champion 2014) and George Koustoumpardis (World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion 2015). These celebrity baristas went head-to-head as they performed their skills in a series of live and on-demand demonstrations and workshops.
A global approach
Over the past 12 years, THAIFEX – World of Food Asia has grown in strength, said Koelnmesse, citing the highest number of participants this year with 1,919 exhibitors from 40 countries.
International participation has also seen a boost with 18% growth from last year to 955 foreign companies, reaching an equal proportion of international and local exhibitors. Adding to this positive growth and making their show debut were new exhibitors from country groups such as Cambodia, Chile, India, Indonesia and Norway.
This year’s show was the most “impactful one yet” — expanding across the road to occupy a total of seven halls. The record-breaking 80,000sqm of exhibition space, up by 10,000sqm, is a reection of the growing international success and popularity of THAIFEX –World of Food Asia, said the organiser. Footfalls reached 38,000 this year, an 8% growth from last year.
Said Michael Dreyer, managing director and vice-president, Asia- Pacific, Koelnmesse: “This year’s show was our most impactful one yet. A larger exhibition space accommodates for the largest gathering of international and local exhibitors we have ever seen. is is another affirmation from the industry that THAIFEX – World of Food Asia maintains its position as the global player in the F&B industry by connecting Asia to the world. is also confirms that Thailand is the ideal hub for the F&B and the perfect home to THAIFEX – World of Food Asia.”
This year saw Germany as the show’s fourth official partner country. Organised by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, this collaboration enabled Germany to promote an array of outstanding specialities unique to Germany.
“This year’s partner country is significant to Koelnmesse, which is headquartered in Germany. We are thrilled to see that Germany has increased its pavilion size in order to accommodate and showcase a plethora of innovative German products including the famed WHAPOW’s frozen superfood purees, Wolf ’s meat-free vegetarian sausages made from egg white and Zoller-Hof artisanal craft beer,” Dreyer added.