The session was chaired by Raúl Calleja, director of the Fruit Attraction, Meat Attraction and Intersicop trade shows, organised by IFEMA, and was attended by José María Pozancos, general director of FEPEX, the Spanish Federation of Fruit and Vegetable Export Producers, Miguel Huerta, Secretary General of ANICE, the National Association of Meat Industries of Spain, José Gandía Giner, president of ROYAL SAT, and Sibylle Courtois, general director of OTSA.
The business meeting, which was broadcast live via Zoom to a large audience, concluded with the unanimous ratification by the participants of the importance of trade fairs and congresses for the economic recovery of the agri-food sector and for the promotion and encouragement of business relationships.
Raúl Calleja opened the meeting by saying that “physical fairs are irreplaceable and essential to promote Franco-Spanish business. The current situation makes it impossible to hold face-to-face meetings, although it would appear that by the second quarter of 2021 we will be able to start promoting them again. New technologies are giving us the means to stay in contact with new methods that complement and strengthen in-person meetings. During October, Fruit Attraction LIVEConnect became a community consisting of almost 7,000 members, who made more than 15,000 professional contacts and exchanged 40,814 messages. More than 500 meetings were held on the platform”.
José María Pozancos went on to say that “in the agri-food sector, the relationship between Spain and France is highly complementary and well established. When analysing the trade balance, we see that France is a major exporter of basic products, and we are its top supplier of fruit and vegetables. France, very oriented towards its own market, steers us to exploit our own strengths, which are diversity, proximity, quality and prices. There is no question that Fruit Attraction is a great driving force behind these strengths, as well as a springboard for the French sector to better position itself in the Spanish market. The fair has reinforced the strengths of both countries”.
Similarly, José Gandía Giner confirms that “Fruit Attraction has been essential in the consolidation of the relationship between France and Spain, which has allowed the volume of exchanges to be increased. It is important to meet again in Madrid, at a fair that has become one of the world’s three leading events. During the pandemic, the French market, which has traditionally been very protective of its national production, has experienced a variation in consumption in which Spain has played a growing role. This has emphasised something extraordinary: quality, diversity, health, pleasure and price. Although it will continue to protect its products, it demands the quality and diversity that Spain is so brilliantly able to provide. The development of these aspects will transcend the impact of COVID-19 ”.
Later, Sibylle Courtois highlighted the importance of trade fairs as an essential tool for knowledge, promoting products, finding out about trends and competitors, building relationships and, ultimately, boosting business. Fairs are necessary for business success, and today, they are essential to adapt to the times we live in. IFEMA has been able to adapt through hybrid formats such as Fruit Attraction LIVEConnect, enabling companies to stay active and find other alternatives for their businesses. This platform allows them to make contacts and be competitive. It is an opportunity”.
Regarding the meat sector, Miguel Huerta says that “France is an important business partner. In fact, it is our second customer after China. We are natural allies and we must join forces and seek synergies because we have the same objectives and obstacles. We must help with the reconstruction of the economy, as well as promoting the sustainable production model and foreign trade. In this regard, Meat Attraction is a fair with many multiplier effects. It is the key instrument to generate stable businesses, open markets and help us to emerge from this crisis”.
The 1st Franco-Spanish Economic Forum, organised by IFEMA and the Franco-Spanish Chamber of Commerce was officially opened by the Minister of the Presidency of the Community of Madrid, Mª Eugenia Carballedo, the French ambassador to Spain, Jean-Michel Casa, the president of the IFEMA Executive Committee, José Vicente de los Mozos, and the president of the Franco-Spanish Chamber, Sara Bieger. It was followed by a plenary meeting during which, among other matters, the traditional fair model and its evolution to the hybrid fair concept were evaluated.