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By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health claims Dietary supplement

250 conference delegates will attend the Geneva show
250 conference delegates will attend the Geneva show
Geneva's Vitafoods trade show is embracing the digital age to link up delegates and exhibitors from around the world, reports Gary Scattergood

When it comes to the numbers, the Vitafoods trade show is clearly in rude health.

With more than 600 exhibitors, 12,500 visitors, 250 conference delegates, 91 countries represented and an average amount of 347,135 generated per exhibitor, you might not think that it needs a metaphorical shot in the arm.

But, Chris Lee, the show's portfolio director, says he is not one to rest on his laurels.

So while he is thrilled that this year's event will see halls one and two at Palexpo in Geneva filled for the first time, he wants to make sure that visitors get even more "added value" than before.

"It is a great achievement to get such numbers, especially with the consolidation of the market that we are seeing at the moment,"​ he says.

"However, sometimes these shows can be a needle in a haystack event and we're working hard to make Vitafoods more productive. We are bringing people together and need to help them to do business together."

There are three new developments this year that Lee hopes will help achieve this.

The first is a series of 'innovation tours' organised alongside consultancy Nutrimarketing and focusing on a series of specific issues and areas of interests.

"Visitors will be able to book on these tours in advance and they will provide an exact itinerary to focus on the issue they are most interested in.

"It will give the visitor the ability to ask questions at particular stands, taste products and act as a guide to someone throughout the show."

Lee adds: "We know that it can be hard to know where to start at a show like this and time out of the office is precious for everyone these days. People need to justify to their bosses why they need time out so we are keen to make it as easy as possible to guide people to what they really need to see be that innovation, research and development (R&D), discussion about health claims and so on."

The second initiative is in the digital sphere and aims to encourage networking through a 'digital floor plan' that will be sent out to visitors before the event.

"The key thing with it is that it contains a networking tool where the visitor can connect with the exhibitor well beforehand,"​ says Lee.

Visitors will be able to search through product categories and industry sectors before drilling down to find the most relevant contact.

"They will be able to use this beforehand to find and make contacts, arrange meetings with specific people, be it the R&D guy, the marketing guy, whoever will be the most helpful to them, added Lee.

"This technology is really quite revolutionary and will enable people to dig right down to the level the visitor needs and make their visit more productive."

There will be an app to accompany that onsite, which will connect with the interactive floor plan.

Pure theatre

Away from the digital developments, the final new string to the show's bow is an Industry Trends Theatre, which aims to be less commercially driven and provide visitors with an independent, expert overview of the Vitafoods market.

"This is where we can really add value,"​ said Lee. "People need to be given more than the chance to connect with existing or potential new suppliers. They also need to be educated and discover new issues at the exhibition.

"So in this theatre we will have non-commercial seminars, sessions and discussions with associations and research bodies. They will be giving people expert views around key markets, business landscapes and major regulatory developments and trends."

And, speaking of trends, what does Lee think will be the overriding themes to dominate this show?

It'll be no surprise to discover that he believes the fallout from the EU's list of approved health claims will continue to take centre stage.

"It is interesting because we had the Article 13 health claims regulation since the last show, so I think the debate will now move on to what the challenges are now we have the approved list of 222 claims.

"We are going to see how all of the people who have been rejected are going to get around it,"​ Lee explains.

"We're seeing things where people are trying to get around it through the medical devices route and we're also seeing a big, collective thought process on marketing without claims and how to take that forward, so that will be a hot topic."

Lee also predicts plenty of debate around the topic of R&D, both in terms of how it is being affected by health claims legislation, and from the increasing levels of consolidation in the market.

"We can't ignore the fact that the big pharma companies are coming in and snapping up the smaller nutra companies and the implications this might have for innovation,"​ Lee says.

On the ingredients front, Lee believes: "Omega will remain at the top of the tree"​, while there will be a decent showing of products featuring the vitamin K2s, "especially given its bone health capabilities".

"Fibre, magnesium and vitamin D are also riding a wave at the moment, so there will be a good range of those products, either of developments within existing products or the emergence of new ones,"​ says Lee.

"I think there will also be an even greater amount of attention paid to sports nutrition and how certain players are actually finding different strands within the sector, such as specifically targeting the teen sports nutrition market."

Conference coup

Away from the hustle and bustle of the show floor, the 250 conference delegates will experience a strong line-up. Chaired by Professor Paul Clayton, from the Institute of Food, Brain & Behaviour, the conference will feature presentations from several major players, none more so than Professor Ambroise Martin, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) health claims panel.

"Professor Martin will be giving the keynote address, which is a real coup for us,"​ explains Lee.

"We've tried to get someone from EFSA in the past, but we have never succeeded. Perhaps it is more understandable that they are willing to come now because the landscape is a bit more clear."

The conference will also feature sessions dedicated to gut health, preventative health, heart health, brain health and personalised nutrition.

One of the most high-profile areas, according to Lee, will be around the ageing population.

"There will also be quite a bit of focus and interest in this because it is widely seen as being a major growth area for this year,"​ he added.

Principal market analyst Jonathan Thomas will discuss the opportunities available for the industry in this area, while Professor Clayton will present a talk on reversing and preventing sarcopenia (skeletal muscle loss).

The effect of bioactive collagen peptides on the mechanisms of the ageing process will be analysed by Dr Steffan Oesser, md at the Collagen Research Institute, while Hughes Aubin from Tereos Syral will explain how hydrolysed wheat proteins can offer a vegetal alternative for building muscle mass.

"We believe we are offering a great overall package to visitors and delegates,"​ says Lee. "It is also important to emphasise that, although this is the European show, we will have exhibitors attending from all over the world.

"We have 60 different nations taking part from the core European ones to New Zealand, Malaysia, Korea, the Middle East and south, central and north America.

"It really is a global show."

New product offerings will take centre stage

Hundreds of products will be showcased in the New Product Zone. Here's just a glimpse of some of those that will be featured in Geneva.

In the sweetness sector, Nascent Health Sciences is a newly created US-based firm and the exclusive global marketing firm of ZCHT SoPure stevia extracts. It will be exhibiting SoPure Stevia  ̶  a trademarked family of stevia products  ̶  which the firm says provides its customers and the industry with the most cutting-edge and superior stevia products.

Elsewhere, Cactus Botanics will be displaying its range of 5-HTP products. 5-HTP is a dietary supplement, which research shows can improve mood, especially during weight loss, by managing carbohydrate cravings. By means of advanced production methods, Cactus Botanics can supply Griffonia simplicifolia extract 5-HTP of various concentrations including 25%, 50% and 98%. It can also produce other specially made types to fully satisfy individual specifications.

In the area of phospholipids and omega-3 fatty acids, Novastell will showcase an organic range composed of a liquid soya lecithin and an innovative powdered organic soya lecithin. Lecibio F60 is an organic liquid soya lecithin for standard food applications. It can be used as an emulsifier in organic processed food products.

Lecibio P40 is an innovative powdered soya lecithin mixed with an organic carrier composed of soya proteins and gum arabic. It can be used as a food supplement for its phospholipid, protein and fibre contents.

Switzerland-based company Lonza will be presenting DHAid, made from naturally occurring microalgae. DHAid is a purely vegetarian source of omega-3 DHA. Health benefits include the support of brain development and function as well as heart and eye health. Meanwhile, ResistAid is a natural immune ingredient derived from North American larch trees. The latest research has found that daily supplementation can reduce the number of cold episodes by 23%.

Lastly, the Memree brand covers a line of products that contain high quality, soy-based phosphatidylserine  ̶  an important structural component of cell membranes that is found in concentrated amounts in brain cells. Products in the Memree line include MemreePS for cognitive health and MemreePlus for cognitive health, stress reduction and exercise recovery applications.

In the anti-oxidant arena, Algatechnologies, a leading producer of natural astaxanthin, will highlight its all-natural AstaPure.

The AstaPure line includes a 10% astaxanthin oleoresin, 2.5% astaxanthin beadlets, 2% astaxanthin vegetarian beadlets, cold water-dispersible beadlets, 3% astaxanthin powder and 4mg astaxanthin capsules (supplied in bulk). All products can be used in multiple forms of dietary supplements, cosmeceuticals and functional foods. One of the company's newest products is an advanced form of astaxanthin emulsion. It is a ready-to-use formulation that can be easily introduced into liquid-filled capsules or any other water-soluble application.

Its novel technology is based on 100%-water-soluble, food-grade micelles, enabling the production of a highly stable product form.

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