Israelis Win 5 Awards at International Food Fair

Most of the Israeli exhibitors are small and not well-known, but they hope that exposure at the international food convention will provide a breakthrough.

PARIS - The Israeli pavilion at the Sial food convention is sandwiched between those of Portugal and Britain. Some 20 Israeli companies have come to exhibit their wares as part of Sial 2010, The Global Food Marketplace convention in Paris.

Olive oil

Five Israeli companies won prizes for innovation at Sial, beating 1,500 other competitors. Tempo won for its flavored shandies; Sugat for its low sodium salt; Olia for its fig product line, as well as a mix of garlic and kumquat; Roy chocolate for its liqueurs in three flavors, and a praline package that opens up; and Sanlakol, which offered tomato sauces in individual plastic servings.

Most of the Israeli exhibitors are small and not well-known, but they hope that exposure at the international food convention will provide a breakthrough. Sial bills itself as an event for all those involved in the food industry: Retail, trade, manufacturing, catering and food services, "Where business and innovation meet."

Sial is held every other year in the French capital with about 150,000 people in attendance. They want to check out the latest innovations in the food industry, build and strengthen business relationships between some of the 5,700 exhibitors, and gain the attention of some 1,500 journalists covering the fair.

The Israeli exhibit is a bit different from that of many other countries. For example, Italy identifies itself with such local staples as pasta and Parmesan cheese, while Japan emphasizes various sushi products. But the Israeli exhibit shows a much wider range of products including chocolate, bourekas, energy drinks, honey and granola. It also features many products more traditionally associated with Israel such as tehina, halva, pita bread, coffee with cardamom, and olive oil.

There are a large number of new innovative products among the Israeli offerings this year: Vinagrette with coffee; tiny pita breads which do not tear; and energy bars with tomato, onion and olive flavorings. Four companies from the Arab sector are displaying their wares, including the Nina bakery from Haifa, which produces the mini pitas.

"We are here after six years in which we didn't display, and it is clear that Israel's innovativeness does not stop with high tech, but exists also in consumer products," said Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute director general Avi Hefetz. "This is the first time all these companies have participated in the exhibition, and the Arab sector is also well represented. Company representatives have come mostly to meet buyers and chains to develop new markets," he added.

Large Israeli food companies did not exhibit as part of the Israeli food pavilion. Instead, they cooperated with major international firms and placed themselves by product category. For example, Wissotzky Tea was in the tea pavilion, Prigat was in the juice section and Tempo was with the drinks companies.

Israeli Arab celeb Futna Jabber, who participated in the Big Brother television reality show, is holding demos at the Israeli pavilion at Sial. The Export Institute enlisted Jabber, whose husband runs a Tel Aviv restaurant, to conduct taste tests for a movie to be broadcast on the Food channel.