By Rudy & Marlene Otter

London: India’s rising economy sparked interest at Bellavita Expo, the largest Mediterranean food-and-wine trade show which had its sixth and biggest annual outing so far at the capital’s Business Design Centre on November 7 and 8.

Exhibitors displayed over 3000 products ranging across pastas, pizzas, breads, dairy, oils, fruits and vegetables, sauces, confectioneries, desserts, coffee, spirits, beers and wines from Italy, Spain, Greece, France and Slovenia.

Several participants told Destination Reporter India that they would be interested in having distributors representing their wares on the subcontinent, praising India and China as “rapidly growing markets” they are keen to target. Many also said they would like to visit India, a country they have “heard so much about”, combining business with a holiday.

Claudia Cammisa of Filicori Zecchini’s export department, said the Italian firm celebrating its 100th anniversary this year imports robusta coffee beans from southern India and tea from Darjeeling as well as from other countries, and exports all over Europe, the USA, Middle East and the Maldives. Their products span coffee, tea and chocolate, using advanced technology to “add significant value to coffee roasting”. Claudia told us the owner’s wife, Marta Filicori, is so keen on India that she visits the country every two years, exploring the subcontinent. “When Marta was younger,” Claudia added, “she visited India even more frequently. She loves the culture and the people.”

Conde de Benalua’s export manager Josep Palau Caballero said his firm was talking to distributors in India. He said his “organic spicy olive oil” made from olives growing 1000 m above sea level in southern Spain, would appeal to Indian palates. “We don’t add anything to our Amarga y Pica extra virgin oil” he said. “The spicy flavour occurs naturally from olives cultivated at high altitudes.” The firm also produces other oils. Already exporting to Europe, USA, Korea and Japan since setting up 16 years ago, he said the firm was now “focusing on India and China” for additional growth. He added: “I would also very much like to visit India and see the sights.”

Soraya Patwari, business development manager of Green Network Energy, said the company was founded in 2003 by two Italian entrepreneurs, Piero Saulli and Sabrina Corbo, who wanted to make their mark in the Italian energy market by doing things differently “with passion and innovation”. The company, now also with a UK base, offers businesses and homes “simpler, cheaper, greener” renewable energy to suit their needs and “help save the planet”. She told Destination Reporter India that her father runs an Indian restaurant in Switzerland and she has visited Bangladesh which she enjoyed. “I would love to visit India too,” she said. “The Taj Mahal would be great to see, and as a yoga fan I would like to learn more about how to keep fit in yoga centres. Meditation also is something I want to know more about in India.”

Alessandro Canuto of Hausbrandt’s export department, said the firm’s coffee is especially targeted at the higher end of the market. The Venice-based company exports to 90 countries including most of Europe as well as the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam and Thailand. “We have a distributor in Sri Lanka and would like to have one in India also.” He hopes to visit Delhi and Mumbai to explore business potential and “experience the culture”.

Sessions explaining how to match beers and wines with different foods, as well as masterclasses on how wines differ from region to region proved popular with visitors. Lip-smacking cookery demonstrations were also a hit with attendees.

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