Paola Sarco, exhibition manager of TUTTOFOOD, talks about the upcoming 2021 edition, market trends, challenges and response to COVID-19 crisis


What differentiates TUTTOFOOD Milano from other industry, B2B food fairs?
TUTTOFOOD is the most internationalised food exhibition in Italy. It features a unique mix of Italian and international household names with niche SMEs representing the excellences of the Made in Italy and more. Therefore, it’s a real international agri-food hub to discover new products, explore new trends and create effective networking. It also offers an unparalleled programme of events, also thanks to a number of partnerships with authoritative associations and organisations. Initiatives in progress include scouting activity to increase the number of hosted buyers and planning strategies to involve an increasing number of bloggers, influencers, and trendsetters.


PaolaS arco, exhibitio manager, TUTTOFOOD

Please tell us a bit more about the upcoming TUTTOFOOD.
We’re building a lot on innovation. We launched the new Fiera Milano Platform, an innovative, integrated system that focusses even more on networking by simplifying interactions between buyers and companies. An ecosystem of services, from websites and social media to a synergy between in-person and digital meetings and redesigned catalogues. Moreover, TUTTOFOOD 2021, will be an effective knowledge-sharing platform. The event will be running from May 17-20, 2021. Evolution Plaza, the core of the TUTTODIGITAL area, will focus on next-generation digital transformation solutions, while Innovation Area, which will present the new TUTTOFOOD contest dedicated to innovation. Also making a return is the Retail Plaza, the meeting place for trends on Retail and large-scale retailers.

What gives the fair its ‘international feel’ and what does it focus on?
The growing internationalisation is confirmed by both visitors and exhibitors. To date, more than 550 brands are already confirmed from countries including Belgium, Germany, Greece, Ireland, The Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Spain, the United States, Switzerland and Taiwan, as well as Italy. In the 2019 edition, 3,079 brands were present, 16% international from 43 countries while attendance reached 82,551 professionals, 23% of whom from abroad, from a total of 143 countries.

What are some of this year’s most important food categories and products, and why?
We treasure all our sectors, especially what has made the fortune of the show such as dairy, meat, sweets, and grocery sectors. In 2021, a new feature is TUTTOFRUIT, an area dedicated to fresh fruit and vegetables and innovation in the IV and V ranges, which value fruit and vegetable products with high service content. Next edition also focuses on an organic development of the latest sectors launched –TUTTOHEALTH will see the development of TUTTOWINE and a boost of TUTTODIGITAL.

Are there any trends that you consider of utmost importance to the GCC market now?
We look at the GCC market with great interest. An example of that is a webinar we have organised recently, live from Dubai, where industry experts presented to our stakeholders the most interesting trends. High-end restaurant chains and hotel restaurants are historically strong in the Gulf Countries. Our experts think this is set to continue in the upcoming years, but with a twist towards an even more personalised luxury on one side, and a new focus on nature, proximity and territory on the other. The trade between Europe and the area is already promising, but we think there are still margins for growth for quality foods.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the wake of COVID-19 as the organiser; what obstacles is the industry facing? How do you plan on overcoming them?
Fieramilano is one of the largest and most modern exhibition venues in Europe and we’ve already held several successful trade fairs in a safe and secure environment since the reopening. We’re confident the global situation will have improved by May 2021. In any case, we’re ready to host a safe TUTTOFOOD thanks to technology and the commitment of our teams. Within the context of Fiera Milano Platform, a digital map of the exhibition will allow virtual visits from remote, as well as direct, real-time negotiations. The event becomes ‘phygital’, or hybrid, with the creation of new formats that are simultaneously digital and accessible to a live audience.

Fine dining versus delivery – which one’s the winner under current circumstances?
With the forced closure of bars and restaurants, lockdowns in several countries put food delivery in the limelight. Our data says that many among the new customers who discovered it during the pandemic will continue to use it. On the offer end, restaurateurs that wouldn’t use it before started proposing it to their customers. However, after the reopening, we’ve also seen that people are eager to go back to dining out. We think that mixed formats and mixed concepts will be the most viable solutions for the foreseeable future. The ‘Dark Kitchen’ phenomenon is a good example of that.