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Interview J. Antonio Valls about Alimentaria


1. Tesi: Dear Toni, you are the Managing Director of the food show Alimentaria in Barcelona / Spain. Can you please tell me about your daily work and the show?

Toni Valls: I constantly deal with people which I consider to be key to the success of a show that needs almost 2 years of preparation. So I attend many internal and external meetings to develop the project and of course I answer hundreds of emails and calls. I also prepare commissions with the organizing commitees of the different shows that are part of Alimentaria and manage our team. As it evolves and the show is approaching, everything gets more and more intense to ensure its proper implementation. Finally, the four days that Alimentaria takes place I do my best to fulfill all the requirements I have: mainly, to meet the media and the members of the organizing commitee, to attend the main events of the show and to develop other PR actions.

2. Tesi: I know that you work in the exhibition industry since many years. Can you tell me how you ended up in this industry and what you career developed?

Toni Valls: I started in the exhibition business 25 years ago working for Expo Consult, organizing very monographic and vertical shows. Then I jumped to Miller Freeman, Blenheim, Reed Exhibitions and Alimentaria Exhibitions, first as Deputy General Manager and since 2013 appointed as M.D. So I have developed most of my career in the exhibition industry, which I consider very challenging because you have to prove your capacity to manage all the process from the conceptualization to the final execution. And I can assure you this is a very rewarding and exciting experience.

3. Tesi: Shows always produce amazing stories and moment between exhibitors and visitors. Can you tell me about one "Alimentaria-moment" you will never forget?

Toni Valls: As a matter of fact, I have experienced so many unforgettable Alimentaria moments that it is really difficult to choose only one. But for instance, now it comes to my mind that during the celebration of Alimentaria 1995 Spain and Canada had an important fishing dispute (it was named "the halibut crisis") and just by chance both countries had their pavilions side by side in the show, which generated some tension moments among the organization. Hopefully, at the end both sides kept the cordiality and everything runned smoothly.

4. Tesi: What is your vision. Where will the show be in five years' time?

Toni Valls: Alimentaria was born more than 40 years ago and during this time it has been a very clear transformation in terms of product strategy along with the exhibit business trends. The show has been adapting to the different drivers that move the food and drinks industry and its value chain. Alimentaria has to answer the requirements of all its stakeholders. We need to reflect the trends of the industry, the innovation, the digitalization process and the consumer evolution. And even if I can not foretell how the show will be in some years, I think that it will have to collect all these inputs I mentioned and know how to represent and combine them. My bet will always be a well balanced mix of knowledge, good layouts and many innovations in all the projects that are developed within Alimentaria. The digital impact that we are seeing in all the business is also an important element to consider, without loosing the traditional spirit of the trade shows.

5. Tesi: Toni, what does good food mean to you?

Toni Valls: To awake senses, together with pleasure, conversation and complicity.

Thank you
Matthias Tesi Baur

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