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'This year we expect more than 80,000 sector professionals to attend'

Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural Engineer. @rmiguelanez

Salón del Gourmet is a gourmet food and beverage fair for trade professionals. This pioneering project in Spain was initially launched in 1986, with 73 exhibitors and more than 8,000 visitors.

Twenty-nine editions later, the fair is international and remains a leader in Europe as the only gourmet event of its kind, with 1,164 exhibitors, 30,000 products on display, 79,959 visitors, and 1,192 journalists and accredited news publications.

Grupo Gourmets has spearheaded specific activities to promote Spain's culinary culture. As a defender and promoter of the industry, it has endeavored to promote national products and defend Marca España for 38 years

Wikispanishfood.com interviews Fernando Balmaseda, Director of Salón del Gourmets.

Ricardo Migueláñez.- Salón del Gourmets, now in its 29th edition, remains a leading event in Spain. What does it mean for the organization that companies recognize its hard work by participating year after year?

Fernando Balmaseda.- We organize the Salón for them, so that they can do business, cover their expectations and meet their goals. The Salón is a meeting point for the supply and demand of gourmet foods and beverages; we are trying to create the "market". The fact that repetition rates are very high (exceeding 80% in some editions) and that we have organized 29 consecutive editions of the fair are good indicators, in our opinion, that we're doing something right.

R.M.- How big do you expect this year's fair to be? Is there still time to participate as an exhibitor?

F.B.- This year, once again, the Salón will span three large pavilions at IFEMA, the Trade Fair Institution of Madrid, as well as the adjoining areas, and will be held from April 13th to the 16th. We changed one 5,000 m2 pavilion for another measuring 16,500 m2, which will provide us with 45,000 m2 of gross exhibition space. We expect growth of between 12 and 15% compared with 2014, and there are still a few spots left for companies interested in participating.

R.M.- What new features and benefits are available to exhibitors planning to participate in Salón del Gourmets in the months running up to the fair?

F.B.- There are benefits for exhibitors who have decided that they are going to participate and who have confirmed in advance. We want to reward loyal clients who trust in us, who rent a space ahead of time (before September) and who pay on time. They may receive a discount of up to 12% on exhibition space rental. For new exhibitors and for those who haven't attended the Salón for a few years, there are also certain advantages (financial and location-wise) if they sign up before October and pay on time.

R.M.- What new features are you offering for visitors this year?

F.B.- The most important feature for visitors will be the more than 30,000 gourmet products that will be on display, of which more than 1,000 are new items that will be launched at the event. As always, the product will be the main focus of attention.

In addition to the traditional single-focus exhibition areas (Wine Lounge, Oil Lounge, the Salón Gallery and the Guide's Best Wines Zone), this year we will have an section dedicated to hospitality and catering equipment, called GourmetEquip; we will have a space for various food trucks at the Gourmet Senses Workshop (the fair's main activity area); an area for Chefs of the World; and a lounge for wines, cavas and rosé champagnes called "La Vie en Rosé”.

R.M.- Activities and conferences are held simultaneously with the fair. What new actions have been planned for this edition?

F.B.- While it's important to underline that Salón de Gourmets is a trade fair, there are also many activities, some of which have been ongoing for many years. Activities this year include the 22nd Spanish Ham Carving Contest - Dehesa de Extremadura, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment; the 20th edition of the Wine Tunnel; the 8th Oyster-Opening Championship; the 3rd GourmeTapa competition, organized with Estrella Galicia; the Madrid region's Beer Pouring Competition and the 2nd National Beer Pouring Championship; the 6th Spanish Cocktail Contest, organized by Orujos Panizo; and, for the very first time, the 1st White Pig Symposium, with Industrias Cárnicas Tello.

R.M.- How would you convince a company that's thinking about exhibiting at Salón del Gourmets to take the plunge?

F.B.- First, I would tell them to hurry, because the fair's around the corner and there's not a lot of space left, and second, and most importantly, I would say that if they want to present their product to the large-scale retail sector and/or HoReCa, then Salón de Gourmets is the perfect place to do it. This year we expect more than 80,000 sector professionals to attend, of which around 45,000-50,000 will come from outside Madrid and another 7,000-8,000 will come from outside Spain.

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27/10/2017