RIMINI: Sigep 2022, the world’s leading business-to-business show dedicated to dessert and coffee food service, recorded a presence of buyers from the Arab world for the first time.
This year’s edition of the exhibition, the 43rd and the first in-presence after the pandemic, began on Saturday at the Italian Exhibition Group Expo Centre in Rimini, the seaside city in northern Italy famous worldwide for its beach tourism.
One thousand vendors and creators and 300 buyers from 70 countries will be doing business until March 16 in the 90,000 square meters of this fair, which is a showcase mostly for gelato — artisanal ice cream — and coffee, two signature Italian products.
The exhibition center features a wide array of artisanal sweets and the state-of-the-art tools used in their preparation, while the immense wood-roofed pavilions smell of the most precious blends of espresso made by Italy’s top baristas.
Buyers at this edition include firms from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt.
“Italy is the capital of food. If you want good food, this is the country you have to look for it in,” Mahmoud Mekkawy from Idea Orbit, a Saudi buyer, told Arab News.
His Riyadh-based company, which began in duty-free shops at airports, has been importing and selling Italian food to the Kingdom since 2015.
“We realized that ‘Made in Italy’ is important in Saudi Arabia when we talk about food, and we were right. We also import some German products, but 95 percent of our stuff comes from Italy, and we are pleased about this,” he said.
In Saudi Arabia, he added, Italian food “is the first choice.”
“At this exhibition, I managed to find a number of companies that are specialized in organic and sustainable food and olive oil, which are in high demand in the Saudi market,” Mekkawy said, adding that his company recently opened the biggest gelato factory in the Kingdom — “all made with original Italian ingredients and technology.”
The exhibition explores the future of pastry and coffee. On display are artificial intelligence systems for cash desks and integrated cameras that recognize the selected food and “prepare the bill.” There is a “maxi kebab” cream made from 10 kg of chocolate, mounted on a vertical rotating skewer and carved into flakes with a special knife.
Also featured is a creation by artist Aurora Thomo — a coffee bean measuring 1.5 meters and coated with over 40,000 coffee beans, its furrow in pure gold leaf — while the consortium for the protection of PDO Campana buffalo ricotta cheese launched the “baba a la bufala.”
There is also a heated pizza box for home deliveries, which ensures that the pizzas stay hot until they are delivered.
“We are so pleased that Sigep is back in presence”, Corrado Peraboni, CEO of the Italian Exhibition Group, which is listed on Euronext Milan and is a leader in organizing trade fairs in Italy and abroad, told Arab News.
He stressed the group’s great interest in Arab markets: “Last February, we launched Jewellery, Gem & Technology Dubai, a success for how it attracted buyers from Arab, Asian and North African countries.”