Foodies swarm Melbourne for international trade show

Fine Foods Australia is the largest trade show in the Southern Hemisphere, offering well-known Australian brands such as Devondale and more obscure international products such as sea grapes.

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This year’s event attracted more than 1000 exhibitors; a third from overseas.

Event Coordinator Minnie Constan said international interest had grown 10 per cent compared to last year.

“Australians are so interested and open to trying different foods,” she said. “We have over 45 different countries represented here, about a third or 300 exhibitors.”

“Anything ranging from Colombia, Peru, Italy, Taiwan Thailand, Malaysia, Japan; they’re all here.”

Among the foods on exhibit was chocolate made with cacao grown in the Amazon. 

The product was cultured by local communities in Ecuador and Colombia, and Chocolate Brokers CEO Carlos Espinosa said it was now sold all over the world.

For local producers, the event is an opportunity to build international contacts and partnerships. 

Italian Trade Commissioner Antonietta Baccanari said Australia had always been a good market for Italian exporters.

“Australian consumers are really interested in top quality Italian products; what we promote is the real and the authentic Italian products,” she said. “From different sectors and region in food tradition.”

For World Pizza Champion and Melbourne restaurateur Johnny Di Francesco, the event not just an opportunity to display his wares but also to scout for a new pizza protégé. 

The Melbourne restaurant owner took top honours against 600 competitors at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza – or Pizza World Championship – in Parma, Italy earlier this year.

Now he’s putting together a team to return to the championships next year.