Milano World Food Expo 2015 has demonstrated that in spite of growing concerns of many an investor regarding the “stability” of agricultural commodities price decline the food chain production continues to be a very attractive investment area. In the first place nobody has any doubts that the exponentially growing world population is and will always need to eat to survive. From the other side here at Expo one’s eyes can catch very important trends proving that no agricultural commodities’ producers or processors miss the train in terms of fast adaptation to the current changes of the world market.
The miracle of the retail food chain – The Supermarket of the Future designed by MIT Professor – has successfully implemented high technologies into the food distribution process. As soon as any person touches any product on the shelf it immediately displays for the consumer all the important information about the product including even carbon content. Few more examples to confirm our statement are an American famous Food Truck Nation – a very interesting American concept of bringing American artisan foods in every corner of the country, as well as vertical farming mimicking Brazilian forest image and very timely presented by Brazilian farmers to address the current needs of the land scarcity in many countries of the world.
One can’t help seeing the shift to the honey consumption’ Renaissance exposed by many countries at the Expo. With the contradictory trends inside of the honey industry – due to the environmental conditions world bee population is rapidly shrinking, from the one side. And with the China leading the world producers (and consumers!) and exporters of the product – the global consumption is growing with the prospects of the faster demand growth in the next future, from the other side.
Mentioning honey consumption one does not have to write off the growing industrial honey intake, from food production to beauty industries, which all together constitutes the major part of the honey consumption. These are the challenges to address by R&D in close cooperation with the honey producers while the demand is here and waiting for just more and more honey. Some researchers refer to the honey as the sugar of the future returning from the past.
Always alive demand for good old products – this is what one can say about chocolate and beer. Very interesting that Belgium pavilion demonstrated high quality well-known Belgian chocolates and beer.
The food industry is the second most important sector in the Belgian processing industry after chemicals. And no wonder that the leading exported products among some others are chocolate, cocoa products and beer, along with bakery products, pork, beef and poultry meats, processed or non-processed or deep-frozen vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, milk and dairy products, animal feeds, margarine, lemonades and malt.
Two thirds of exports go to our neighboring countries France, the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain. 19% is destined for the rest of Europe and 15% for the rest of the world. Worth mentioning that the food industry strongly concentrates on R&D with sharply growing expenditure and operating of special institutes such as Flanders’ Food and Wagralim to boost innovation process. Currently more than 50% of food companies introduce a product, process, marketing and/or various management innovations every three years. Belgium agriculture and food processing are highly effective – more than 50% of the turnover usually exported. While the country becomes a hub for distribution third countries agriproducts (like banana) in Europe it is also known as the large processor of foreign crops, selling the ready products to the other countries.
One of the centuries’ proven high quality Belgian product is the beer, which varies here from white to red and other colors and tastes. More than 60% of the Belgian produced beer is exported. Such brands as InBev – Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe – are available in several European countries. Mostly bottled beers are imported in various countries in the world. A very important current trend in Belgium beer production is emphasis on sustainability, which presumes the introduction of new technologies on all stages of beer production. One of these visibly detected trends – is the unique glass bottle for every brand of Belgium beer, with imprinted brand logo on it.
New trends in a production of unique Belgian chocolate exposed at Expo are aimed at the maintaining and improving the 4 centuries’ old secrets of the particular smoothness of Belgian chocolate. In the times when a lion share of the world chocolate producers have gradually replaced of complemented cacao oil with the palm or sheer oil, Belgium chocolate producers persist concentrate on high quality of their product and so far keep off this change. They work more on creation of new products made of chocolate, its varieties and shelf life improvement without damaging the quality. So, Barry Callebaut (Swiss company), owning the biggest chocolate factory in the world which is located in Belgium, received the right to use the first health claim in the cocoa and chocolate industry by the European Commission. The Barry Callebaut Group devoted 7 years of its R&D Center work at thorough research of production and clinical trials of the company products – ACTICOA® cocoa powder and dark chocolate.
And the largest new trend in Belgium economy including agriculture which strikes every attendee is the country focus on sustainability and development of organic farming, based on the growing demand and solid EU and Belgium Government support. Belgium provincial bodies in Wallonia and Flanders strongly support any measures directed on the agricultural sustainability and organic technologies. They facilitate the process of knowledge exchange between non-organic and growing number of organic farmers, they support R&D in the area.
On the June 14 Her majesty Belgian Queen Mathilde said that «With the efforts that Belgium is making in research and innovation, the country is determined to find a solution to humanitarian challenges on the issue of nutrition.”
And the biggest beautiful surprise everybody finds at the pavilion is of course the world famous products of the Belgian diamond industry. Belgium, and particularly Antwerp, has a long and rich history as one of the most important diamond manufacturing and trading hubs in the world.
At the Belgian Pavilion, the Antwerp diamond heritage is showcased by a selection of jewelry designs nominated for the HRD Awards 2015. This year, the HRD awards’ theme is “’A LA CARTE | A Culinary Diamond Journey’” a food inspired theme which corresponds to the overall World Expo theme ‘Food’.