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  • Hugo Walker

Alimentaria 2024: Highlights from a week of F&B collaboration



This March, Barcelona’s colossal Fira Gran Via hosted Alimentaria & Hostelco 2024: a four-day international trade show exhibiting the creme de la creme of the food, beverage and hospitality industry. Over 3,200 exhibitors from 68 countries gathered to showcase their achievements in innovation, food quality and machine learning to 100,000 guests.


Collaboration and learning 


A huge range of talks and interactive activities gave industry leaders the opportunity to share their expertise and lessons learnt. The programmes ranged from the micro — coffee pairing sessions and extra virgin olive tastings — to the macro - talks on food cycle analysis and global food security. Sake sommeliers joined global trade leaders in sharing their varied knowledge among the diverse audience of food industry representatives. 


Startups


A dedicated section for startups allowed young innovation to take centre stage amongst industry giants.


The shortlisted startups at Alimentaria included:

  • Gimme Sabor - a Spanish startup which produces vegan seasonings, broth and pate, that mimic the flavour of meat. 

  • Ingredalia - develops plant-based food supplements using patented, sustainable technology that preserves most of the nutrient profiles of fresh produce.  

  • Factic - a digital SaaS platform powered by machine learning that forecasts demand and assists with stock management, from farm to shelf. 

  • Color Sensing - a startup born from a University of Barcelona research project which uses technology to track the “true” colour of subjects. This technology can be applied in a range of settings, including the food packaging industry: by accurately detecting the colour of food products, a freshness indicator is generated. 


AI and digitisation


A pressing topic on the agenda — to no one’s surprise — was AI, particularly in terms of management, design and strategy. As Hostelco president Pere Taberner Casellas puts it, “AI will be used in a different way than we think about robots running around in a kitchen. We will get into concepts like food design using AI technology.”


Toni Valls, the Alimentaria managing director, drew attention to the importance of harnessing AI to automise demand forecasting. “You can predict demand depending on factors such as if it’s going to rain, if it’s a Tuesday or a Friday, or if Madrid and Barcelona are playing a match,” he commented. 


Overall, Alimentaria 2024 was a resounding success, with technology in food tech, such as cultivating healthier and free-from foods, AI and machine learning, food quality and startups showcased internationally to a huge range of industry leaders. Alimentaira 2026 will be held from 23 to 26 March 2026 at the Gran Via venue.

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