Whenever you attend a big event you get a feel for the underlying mood in the industry, and that was definitely the case at this year’s Vitafoods Europe.
As the official PR agency for the event, we’d worked closely with the organisers to raise awareness beforehand. That included surveying visitors and exhibitors to get an insight into where the industry is right now: what people see as the challenges and opportunities, and how they feel about the future.
We wondered if recent political and economic shocks – Brexit for example – might have dented optimism, but the picture was most definitely rosy. Nearly nine in ten (88%) of the nutrition companies we spoke to said they felt positive about the future of their businesses in terms of sales and profitability.
This is clearly an industry that is both resilient and committed to innovation, and that optimism was palpable at Palexpo. Many of the visitors and exhibitors we spoke to commented on the upbeat atmosphere at this year’s event, partly a result of increased footfall (visitor numbers were significantly up on last year).
Something else a lot of people told us was that Vitafoods Europe gives them a feel for the key trends shaping the future of the industry. Obviously these things are subjective and everyone takes away something different, but it seemed there was a particular buzz around probiotics – the focus of this year’s Summit – and sports nutrition – a sector that has been a real success story in recent years.
Another theme that kept coming up was demand for alternatives to animal proteins. Of course this isn’t anything new, but it felt like we might be approaching something of a tipping point. Two separate exhibitors told us that they’d been shocked (in a good way) by the enormous levels of interest they’d had in their vegan ingredients.
Fact of the week – at least the one that stayed with us the most – came from Professor Dr Clemens Von Schacky, one of the expert speakers in the R&D Forum on Omega-3s. By the age of 77, he told us, there are three possibilities: you’re dead, you have dementia, or you have a high Omega-3 index.
So we left Geneva with a pleasant sense of being part of a dynamic, forward-looking industry (and determined to stock up on our Omega-3 supplements).