Innovative products, new deals, worthwhile events: successful conclusion to Riga Food 2022!

Riga Food 2022, the most important food industry fair in the Baltics, hosted by the Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre and bringing together 412 companies from 25 countries, which presented the latest industry trends, ended in September. Gourmets and food industry professionals from around the world gathered in Ķīpsala for three days!

‘This year, despite global events, Riga Food once again convincingly confirmed its status as a truly international event, with an impressive number of companies and professionals from more than 30 countries joining the fair. Meanwhile, local businesses, as always, delighted us with various innovative, even surprising, products, attracting a lot of attention and business offers by professionals from abroad,’ Rolands Nežborts, Riga Food manager, said.

At the fair’s opening ceremony, head of the Minister’s Office of the Latvian Ministry of Agriculture Jānis Eglīts stressed the high quality of foods made in Latvia and the growing exports: ‘In 2021, despite a number of major upheavals and crises that Latvian farming product and food manufacturers have had to overcome, exports rose more than 82 million euros, year on year.’

Riga Food 2022 hosted 412 companies from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Armenia, Belgium, China, Germany, Spain, UK, Georgia, Italy, Moldova, Malaysia, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal —a total of 25 countries — that presented their goods and services at the fair. 74% of the participants were manufacturers, 16% were retailers and wholesalers, 5% were service providers, and the remaining 5% included a variety of other businesses.

Riga Food 2022 featured national booths of 12 countries: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Canada, Malaysia, Moldova. Guests of the fair could visit the opening ceremonies of the national exhibitions of Ukraine, Georgia, and Hungary and discover the gastronomic flavours of each of the countries.

Over its three days, the fair was attended by 20,347 guests, 25% of whom were from abroad. Professionals from 32 countries came as guests, with interest in information, making new contacts, and placing purchase orders, reported as the main reasons for attending.

Latvian producers, together
This year, Latvian products could be found in the Latvian national booth and the booth of the fishing industry. Sweets, spices, jams, meat products, cheese, bread, and many other delicious foods made in Latvia were presented at the joint Latvian national booth, which included companies such as ‘Gaļas nams — Ādaži’ meat producer, ‘Jaunpils pienotava’ dairy factory, Valežs spice manufacturer, and members of the Latvian Bakery Association: Dona, Lāči, ‘N. Bomja maizes ceptuve “Lielezers”’, ‘Hanzas maiznīca’, SIA Puratos Latvia (Pūres brand products), and Lanordija, a subsidiary of Orkla Group.
For the third year in a row, the fair also featured the foods offered by all of the most important fish producers in Latvia. Nine companies took part in the joint fishing industry booth: Līcis-93 (Gamma-A group subsidiary), Unda, Verģi, Brīvais Vilnis, BraDava, Syfud, Karavela with its brand Kaija, Sudrablīnis with its Express Gourmet ready meal brand, and Royal Nordic.

Baltic food industry innovations, all in one place
Healthy and innovative: the two words accurately describe what Latvia’s food industry has been creating in recent years. The innovation was not just about the foods themselves, but also about their manufacture! Every guest of Riga Food 2022 could discover this themselves, as Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian companies brought their latest innovations, technologies, and news related to the production and processing of food and beverages to Ķīpsala.

A visit to the innovation booths by the Latvian Technology Centre, promised various innovative vegan products, such as BEZpiens dairy-free cottage cheese, pasta with insect powder, exotic fruits grown in Latvia, etc.

Chef competitions

The Latvian Chef of the Year 2022 and Latvian Assistant Chef of the Year 2022 competitions took place on the second day of the fair. In an intense match of cooking skill, Ferma restaurant head chef Nils Ģēvele won the title of Latvian Chef of the Year 2022 and the Reaton Golden Ladle, while Agate Batraga, another chef at Ferma, got the Latvian Assistant Chef of the Year award. Meanwhile, the Tallinn Technical School team won this year’s Zero Waste Challenge competition for professional school teams from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. ‘I hope the competitions will inspire young chefs to progress and grow in their craft, creating masterpieces for us to enjoy in the future,’ Svetlana Riškova, head of ‘Pavāru klubs’, said.

Worthwhile living-room discussions
The discussion ‘Quality and service in MICHELIN star restaurants’, which took place in the Riga Food 2022 living room, attracted much interest. Peeter Pihel, head chef of Tallinn’s Fotografiska restaurant, winner of a MICHELIN green star, was one of the speakers. Other participants included head chef of the restaurant Eiriksson Brasserie, Fri?geir I. Eir?ksson, from Iceland, one of the world’s leading pastry chefs Franciane Tartari, Lithuanian restaurant ‘Ertlio namas’ head chef Tomas Rimydis, head chef of the local Ramen Riga restaurant Mārtiņš Sirmais, and Artūrs Taškāns, head chef of the restaurant Akustika in Valmiera, as well as president of the Association of Latvian Travel Agents and Operators (ALTA) Ēriks Lingebērziņš, executive director of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia Santa Graikste, president of the Latvian Restaurant Association Jānis Jenzis, and others.

A diverse programme

The fair included a series of events for professionals, covering the latest topics in the food industry, including the seminar ‘Innovative and sustainable solutions in food and packaging’. As usual, there was an international business networking event at the fair, with more than 130 companies from 24 countries participating this year. Meanwhile, tastings of the world’s most popular beer varieties took place on the Open Stage. Under the guidance of Raitis Akerblūms, president of the Latvian Bartender Federation, guests could try more than 25 of the world’s most popular beers.

Grill Park

The entrance to the Exhibition Centre in Ķīpsala already tempted its guests with the smell of grilled food, thanks to the Grill Park set up in the fair’s outdoor area. Guests could discover the fine details of smoking, cooking beef, and find out about Japanese table grills. There were grilling duels throughout the three days of the fair, as well as the King and Queen of Shashlik competition, the Ērmanīts grilling competition, demonstrations, and tastings. Those interested could check out and buy all sorts of grilling equipment, from tongs to every type of grill out there. Professionals offered tips on how to choose a grill, grill accessories, as well as grilling tricks. Head chef of Re’chef restaurant Ingmārs Ladigs worked at the Grill Park along with the head of the Brotherhood of the Grill (‘Grilētāju brālība’) Juris Titovs.

Food quality competitions
Riga Food hosted the now-traditional award ceremonies for the winners of high-quality milk, bread, and honey competitions.

In the Riga Food honey competition, medals went to z/s Ārbizes (honey from various flowers, by beekeepers Lilita and Vilis Mednis from Smiltene Municipality), z/s Dorītes (linden flower honey beekeeper Jānis Sulutaurs from Ķekava Municipality), and z/s Līdumi (honey from various flowers by beekeeper Gunta Some, Augšdaugava Municipality).

The winners of the milk competition included ‘Talsu deviņkalnu siers, Deluxe’ produced by ‘Talsu piensaimnieks’ (created by Kitija Alksne and Elīna Strauta) as the best semi-hard cheese; ‘Jogurta dzēriens ar persikiem, marakuju un čia sēklām’ made by ‘Tukuma piens’ (created by Marina Haselbauma-Aselbauma) as the best yoghurt, and the Ranka piens’ Tīrkultura product (created by Lelde Ķilupe), got the gold medal in the Riga Food fermented milk drinks competition. In the milk drinks category, 1st place went to ‘Smiltenes piens’ whey protein concentrate ‘Piena spēks, bez laktozes, ar D3 vitamīnu’ (created by Sanita Galviņa-Misiņa). Meanwhile, the 2021/2022 winner in the new Cheese and Butter category was ‘Sviesti ar trifeļu piedevu’ by ‘Tukuma piens’ (created by Linda Lietiņa). ‘Bulgāru jogurts’ produced by ‘Tukuma piens’ (created by Sandra Firleja) got first place in the Yoghurt category. The gold in Desserts and Cottage Cheese went to the cottage cheese dessert ‘Kārums, zemeņu’ by Food Union group (created by Olga Belova), and in the Ice Cream category, 1st place was awarded to the ‘Rūjienas kefīra saldējums ar persiku piedevu vafeļu glāzītē’ product by ‘Rūjienas saldējums’ (created by Sanda Gūte).

The fair also featured award ceremonies for the winners of the ‘Ēdiens kā zāles’ (Food as Medicine) bread competition. Its motto this year was ‘Healthy bread for today’s consumer’. Maiznīca Priekule got a gold diploma for its Kukulītis wholemeal bread; Cannelle Bakery, for its ‘Graudu maize bez cukura’ unsweetened wholemeal bread; ‘N. Bomja maiznīca “Lielezers”’ for ‘Miežu karašs’; Lāči for ‘Sēklu maize ar cigoriņu šķiedrvielu’ seed and chicory bread, and ‘Mājas rudzu maize’ rye bread. Dona also went home with two gold diplomas: for its ‘Rudzu pilngraudu maize’ rye wholemeal bread, and ‘Krustpils rupjmaize’ rye bread. Maiznīca Flora received two golds for ‘4 graudu maizītes’ rolls, and ‘Turaidas rudzu maize’ rye bread. Wheat Karaša and ‘Graudu maize’ made by Beātus SOLO bakery also won gold diplomas. ‘Toste Proteīna tostermaize’ toaster bread by Hanzas Maiznīca, and ‘Rankas rudzu rupjā maize’ by z/s Ķelmēni received high praise.

The next, 28th, Riga Food international food, beverage, food processing, technology, packaging, innovation, catering, hotel and shop equipment and service fair will be held for three days in 2023: on 7–9 September, at the International Exhibition Centre in Ķīpsala, Riga.

The fair is organised by the BT 1 international exhibition company.

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