Many are the eyes that are on SIRHA 2021, the first major international food service fair to be held entirely in person since the beginning of the pandemic. It will take place between September 23 and 27, completely atypical dates for this event, and will represent a certain return to normality albeit with an air of “recovery”. We spoke with the general director of SIRHA, Marie-Odile Fondeur, who is optimistic and firm about the future of conventional fairs compared to virtual ones.
What are the predictions for this edition of SIRHA ’21 compared to previous editions (number of visitors and exhibitors)?
We are optimistic for this edition of recovery after these long months of low activity. We expect more than 2,000 exhibitors and brands, so the offer is suitable for all sectors of the fair.
As for visitors, we have strong signals from professionals who look forward to meeting in a warm atmosphere to discover the latest innovations.
Why celebrate this edition on such an unusual date as September instead of waiting until January 2022?
For several reasons. The first is that it seemed essential to us to have a Sirha Lyon in 2021 after these long months of uncertainty and slow activity. Sirha is an essential event for the food service industry. It was also necessary to position the fair in a relevant way in terms of timing in relation to its main competitors. Finally, this symbolic date of the return in September seemed very favorable to us.
“We are optimistic for this edition of recovery after these long months of low activity. We expect more than 2,000 exhibitors and brands so the offer is suitable for all sectors of the fair”
What measures will the fair organization take to guarantee the safety of exhibitors and visitors?
The measures adopted are those that are applied in all places that receive the public, that is, the presentation of a valid health pass or a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before attending. Of course, our exhibitors and visitors have been informed of this arrangement. We will do our best to make the controls as smooth as possible.
Why should cuisine, bakery, or pastry professionals visit SIRHA 2021?
The exhibiting offer will be wide and varied, more than 400 novelties will be presented. We have received 200 entries for the Sirha Innovation Awards, and the programming of the spaces is extremely rich. Sirha Lyon will be an event not to be missed by all professionals, they will be able to find the solutions to their current problems in terms of material, products, and technologies.
To what extent can major competitions such as the Coupe du Monde la Pâtisserie be devalued, taking into account the absence of some important countries and the difficulties of teams to prepare?
I don’t think we can say the 2021 competitions will be devalued. We have great countries participating and also new ones that are entering. It is the wealth of the Bocuse d’Or and the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie. We are favorable to the confrontation of different cultures and gastronomic heritages. All candidates have their chance, they all give their best in these difficult conditions, and will be even more determined to fight to win the trophies.
To what extent can a global health crisis like the one we are experiencing affect major international events like SIRHA in the future? Is the traditional and face-to-face model of professional fairs in question?
A fair like Sirha continues to be an essential meeting place, and meeting is especially essential in the world of food service. If Sirha is often described as inviting, it is also because there have always been demonstrations and tastings at all the stands. It is essential in this type of event. A digital event can never totally replace a physical meeting and is so much better!