Sustainability, digitisation, diversification: Trends transforming the food market

This year’s Alimentaria & Hostelco 2024 tackles the most pressing issues concerning the industry today.

J Antonio Valls is the general manager of Alimentaria Exhibitions

By J Antonio Valls, general manager of Alimentaria Exhibitions

The year 2023 witnessed growth in the global food and beverage market, despite geopolitical instability and disruptions caused by rising fuel prices. In this uncertain climate, several trends have emerged, reshaping the sector.

At Alimentaria Exhibitions, we have the privilege of being in contact with numerous companies, institutions, quality brands and associations, allowing us to identify these new trends and adapt to provide the sector with responses in line with its needs. The upcoming edition of Alimentaria & Hostelco 2024, scheduled from 18-21 Mar at Fira de Barcelona, will incorporate these trends, including:

Commitment to sustainability

Far from diminishing, interest in sustainability is stronger than ever. Public awareness of climate change is increasing, leading consumers to demand sustainable products with a greater focus on the circular economy and reducing carbon footprint. At Alimentaria, more exhibitors are incorporating this value into their products, introducing changes in processes to minimise their impact on the environment. This trend is reflected in food and beverage launches featuring packaging with biodegradable and recyclable materials, promoting the circular economy. These innovations will be showcased at the trade show.

From the show’s organisational perspective, sustainability criteria aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals are being applied. The Alimentaria 2024 edition will once again implement the initiative launched two years ago, “Towards Zero Waste”, focusing on environmental and social sustainability. Additionally, one of the Innoval Awards – organised by Alimentaria which seek to recognise the efforts made by companies in developing new products – will be dedicated to the most sustainable product. On the last day of the show, surplus products from exhibitors will be donated to an NGO.

Digital revolution in the food sector

The advent of artificial intelligence and automation has altered forecasts for all economic sectors. For the food, beverage, and foodservice industries, these technologies present opportunities to optimise operations, improve forecasting, and increase efficiency. Furthermore, brands can create personalised experiences for consumers based on their preferences.

Technological advances can be explored at The Alimentaria Hub, acting as an observatory for the R&D innovation sector. The Innoval exhibition will highlight more than 300 industry advances. And in the Horeca Hub area, the food and hospitality start-up revolution zone will showcase disruptive companies and start-ups in the sector, while the first edition of the robot solutions space will bring together five revolutionary robots/prototypes applicable to different catering and hotel processes.

Coexistence of plant-based and meat products

The growth experienced by both plant-based and meat sectors at the fair is no coincidence. Preliminary data for Intercarn, one of Alimentaria’s major shows and a primary business platform for the European meat sector, has indicated increased business representation and a greater number of international buyers. Simultaneously, there has been a rise in the availability of organic and healthy food products. Alimentaria 2024 will demonstrate the strength of the meat sector, compatible with the rise of alternative protein and plant-based products, that for the first time will have their own exhibition area.