Increasing interest in Riga Food among foreign food professionals

The Baltic’s biggest food industry fair Riga Food 2018, which brought together at Kipsala International Exhibition Centre a record number of professional visitors and marked the future of food industry towards healthy food and bio-based products, closed on 8 September.

"Riga Food" is becoming increasingly interesting for foreign professionals - their number has increased by 20% this year. Participants are interested in taking part in this fair at least two years in advance. In recent years, the following trend can be observed - although bio-based products are more expensive, demand for them is rising faster than supply. Similarly, there is a scope of improvement for entrepreneurs in the segment of healthy and functional food,” tells Rolands Nežborts, a director of the Riga Food fair.

This year, 721 companies from 37 countries presented their products and services at Riga Food. For the first time in the exhibition were represented such countries as Albania, Egypt and Cyprus. 44% of participants were Latvian producers, 22% - Latvian importers and wholesalers, while 34% of companies were from abroad.

Attendance in four days - 39,100 visitors and food professionals from 60 countries.

Riga Food presented 12 national collective stands of such countries as Belarus, Georgia, Estonia, Italy, Canada, Russia, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Latvia. For the first time, "Riga Food" also offered the national stand of Russia!

A lot of Latvian producers!
The National Stand of Latvia was represented by 20 companies from a wide range of food sectors - both well-known companies in Latvian and foreign markets and newcomers: Ādaži Meat Processing Plant, Lat Eko Food, RKF Valežs, Jaunpils Dairy Plant, Almarini, Rāmkalni Nordeco, Mosenc, Dimdiņi, Skrīveru Saldumi, Karameļu darbnīca, Kronis, Aloja Starkelsen, Naukšēni, Kunturi, Top Food, Smiltenes piens, Lubeco, Puratos Latvia. The members of the Latvian Bakers’ Association - Hanzas Maiznīca, Lāči, N. Bomis Bakery Lielezers, Vidzemes Maiznieks, Saldus Maiznieks, Maiznīca Flora and Dona - presented an extensive offer of Latvian bakers.

Latest product innovations

The exhibition " Food Innovation" by the Latvian Technology Centre showed that, for several years in a row, innovation was just about fitness and healthy nutrition presenting and offering to taste Kefa Factory whey protein with natural sweetener, RicBerry gels for athletes and pastille bars with protein, aloe vera marmalade and even lollipops with earthworm protein, as well as other products high in protein and fibre. All exhibited products have been developed in cooperation with several Latvian research and development institutions.

The Magnetic Latvia Business Incubators stand by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia presented eight companies characterised by the trend of developing organic and healthy products offering to taste the Dabas dots natural and healthy herbal drinks, innovative ARTinSMART carrot, beet and pumpkin chips, the Pupuchi snack rich in protein and amino acids, the alternative baby food "Mazo lāču putra", and sweets from Gardumu Avēnija with no added colouring and unnecessary additives, as well as many other products.

The taste of Latvian regions
The colourful and gastronomic benefits of the Latvian regions were offered by 130 home producers, small producers, small and medium-sized companies from Latgale, Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Zemgale, taking up the Riga Food Hall of Latvia’s Regions.

The competition “Popular Taste” was held for the third consecutive year giving visitors an opportunity to taste delicacies of different regions of Latvia and vote for their favourite. "It’s unexpected, but for the second year in a row the black pudding by Ineta Bole from Arumi farm in Vidzeme won laurels in the category of the products of meat and fish products, and honey. Story was the same with Jānis Smelters’ ginger drink “Ingverine” also brewed in Vidzeme," tells Elīna Ozola, Head of the Rural Development Department at the Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre.

The winners in the category of dairy products were the delicious fresh cheeses by Mārīte Jēkabsone from Kurzeme. Winner in the category of products based on herbal origin (fruit and vegetable products, tea, spices) was hemp products by Andris Višņevskis from Obelisk Farm in Latgale. In the category of edible flours the winner title went to Ilze Kalāce-Bērziņa and Ieva Biķe from Zemgale for the muesli “Smalkais muslis” with fruits, berries and seeds. The winner in the category of alcoholic beverages was Jānis Kugrēns from Zemgale with Latvian berry and fruit wines.

Quality and versatile programme of events

Apart from the vast exhibition, Riga Food offered a number of presentations, seminars, workshops and business meetings. The winners of the premium quality food products produced in Latvia in the categories of milk and honey were awarded.

"This year, milk processing companies have been struggling to surprise taste buds with new, unprecedented flavour and scent combinations. Dairy processing companies have proved that they can be innovative and, having combined the best raw materials, masters’ skills and imagination, can surprise us, therefore, we invite everyone not only to taste products from the award-winning list, but also to choose the high-quality milk produced in Latvia at the grocers’, thus supporting local dairy farmers and processors," points Jānis Šolks, a chairman of the Latvian Central Union of Dairy Farmers.

More about the 2018 best dairy products:

Anniversary Symposium of Latvian Bakers Association

The symposium "100 Reasons to Eat Bread" was held in Kipsala, where nutritionists, nutrition scientists and researchers from food institutes discussed the importance of bread as a healthy product on a daily basis and the value of bread as parts of historical, emotional and cultural heritage.

The symposium was completed by the chef’s master class "Bread at breakfast, lunch and dinner - easy, hearty, sweet, healthy and creative!" offering everyone to learn how to use bread to make trendy dishes for each meal of the day.

International Packaging Contest
In order to promote modern and high-quality packaging for food products, the competition "Riga Food 2018 Packaging No. 1" was held.

The Grand Prix was awarded to Ilze Kalāce-Bērziņa and Ieva Biķe for the packaging of “Smalkais muslis”. The 1st place award went to Heiga for the wicker wood packaging, the 2nd place - Green Hive for the cold-pressed juice packaging and Sapidum for the Madam Puzo sauce gift packs, the 3rd place - Peldu brūzis for the Big Boy Vodka packaging.

All awarded packagings will be displayed at the International Packaging Technology and Logistics Exhibition TAROPAK 2018 to be held from 1-4 October in Poznań, Poland.

The best chefs and apprentice chefs

The best chefs and apprentice chefs competed at Riga Food 2018 to show their skills and professionalism. The title "Chef of Latvia 2018" and Golden Ladle from Reaton went to Dinārs Zvidriņš (Restaurant" Laivu centrs"), the first runner-up - Bernards Anužis (Restaurant "Onore", Lithuania) and the runner-up - Pāvels Skopa (Restaurant "Koya"). The laurels of the best “Apprentice Chef of Latvia 2018” went to Anastasija Verbicka (Restaurant Grand Hotel Kempinski).

5th Latvian Tea Championship
The two-day tea championship gathered a record number of participants - 17 tea masters competing in four categories. Viviana Petrovska was the winner in two categories - tea preparation and tea pairing with a snack. Elīna Lotko showed the best skills in the tea tasting category, while the best cocktail on tea base was made by Mingaile Kola.

The winners will represent Latvia at the International Tea Masters Competition "Tea Masters Cup International", which brings together the best tea industry professionals from more than 15 countries.

The best bartenders determined in two competitions
The best Latvian bartenders competed in the non-alcoholic cocktail contest "Evian & Badoit Latvia Cup 2018" on 6 September and the final of Riga Black Balsam Global Challenge 2018 Riga Black Balsam cocktail competition on 7 September!

The winner of Evian & Badoit Latvia Cup 2018 competition Alvis Cimža from the Olympic Voodoo Casino will represent Latvia at the prestigious world non-alcoholic cocktails championship in Prague, June 2019. Dainis Matjushins ranked second but Elīna Bluķe took the third place!

Riga Black Balsam Global Challenge 2018 Latvia finals introduced three excellent bartenders - Oļegs Hindogins, Aldis Glodenis and Artūrs Osipāns, who qualified for the final competition to be held in Riga, 29 November, where bartenders from all over the world will meet.

Riga Food is held by the International Exhibition Company BT 1 in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics, Latvian Technological Centre, Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre, EEN Latvija, Chefs’ Club, and Diplomatic Economic Club Latvia.

The next 24th International Food, Beverage, Food Processing, Technology, Packaging, Innovation, Catering, Hotel and Shop Equipment, and Service Exhibition Riga Food 2019 will take place from 4-7 September 2019 at Kipsala International Exhibition Centre, Riga, Latvia.

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