Spanning eight huge halls and attracting almost 6,000 exhibitors this year, SIAL covers every sector of the food industry from fruit and vegetables to sweets and biscuits. With a hall focussed solely on meat, all the key players in the international meat market are represented and EBLEX has a well-attended stand where exporters can meet and do business.
The EBLEX stand at this year’s SIAL was themed as the St George pub. Featuring both EBLEX Quality Standard mark and Red Tractor branding, it offered a great place to meet, have a drink and enjoy a steak for lunch. As well as having a large central meeting area, the stand was designed to accommodate areas for five exporters, while other exporters attending the show were also able to make the most of the facilities available.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the show itself, EBLEX together with BPEX organised the St George dinner, which this year brought together over 300 exporters, traders, importers and wholesalers from France and most other European countries, as well as representatives from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The dinner took place in the superb Salon Opéra of the Grand Hôtel Intercontinental, in central Paris, and guests enjoyed a feast of British meat, with beef, lamb and pork all featuring on the menu.
The evening had an unmistakably upbeat feel, including a speech from the British ambassador to France, Peter Ricketts, who praised the ‘made in Britain’ brand and reaffirmed the Government’s belief that food exports are crucial to growing the UK economy. Unfortunately Secretary of State Owen Paterson was forced to cancel his trip to the show due to extreme extenuating circumstances, namely having to make a last-minute announcement on the postponement of the badger cull, however his sincere and personal apologies to senior members of the EBLEX delegation have left no-one in any doubt of his commitment to the cause.
With UK sheep meat exports to France reaching £221 million in 2011, up from £61 million in 2001, and beef exports increasing to £59 million from a standing start in 2006, it’s clear that our efforts in this market are bearing fruit. There is no doubt that it is our presence at events such as SIAL, together with the continuing efforts of the team in the EBLEX France office on a day-to-day basis, which have helped achieve this.