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itting on my fl ight to Barcelona, disinterestedly pushing my mid-fl ight meal around its plastic housing with a plastic fork, I'm reminded why people invest in good food. Despite the best efforts of catering companies, airplane food really is out there on its own in the fi eld of gastronomy, largely due to the fact most kitchens cater for passengers at both ends of the journey. A fl ight from Delhi to Barcelona will more often than not offer a choice of either a substandard tub of curry or a substandard tub of paella. My experience of Spanish cuisine doesn't compare with the oversalted, defl ated offering in front of me. Iberico ham, full-bodied wines, breads, olive oil, fi sh, cheese and olives (famously absent from today's airplane salads) make up the celebrated Mediterranean menu.Spain's food is hugely exportable. The country's food and drink industry is bettered only by the tourism industry in terms of contributions to national GDP (7.6 per cent), producing more than ?80.7bn ($US107) and increasing exports by 11 per cent in 2011, according to data from the Spanish Food Industry Food and Drink Federation (FIAB).This year Alimentaria, the biennial international food and drinks exhibition held at Fira de Barcelona and organised by Alimentaria TURNING THE HEAT UPALIMENTARIA HAS REBOOTED ITS INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND DRINKS FAIR FOR 2012. ANTONY REEVE-CROOK VISITS FIRA DE BARCELONA TO SEE IF THE ENTRÉE CAN UPGRADE TO THE MAIN COURSESHOW PROFILEIssue 2 | 2012 www.60exhibition-world.netExhibitions, a joint venture between Fira de Barcelona and Reed Exhibitions, returned on 26-29 March with a reinvigorated and slimmed down four-day edition looking to underscore its international and academic credentials.Domestic/Iberian demand for the event has weakened as a result of the recession, and to reverse the show's recent decline, Alimentaria Exhibitions came up with a plan to spread word of its activities globally through supporting partner institutions and organisations such as the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) and the Spanish Food and Drink Industry Federation (FIAB).It appears the drive to win international visitors paid off. The show pulled in 142,000 visitors, a seemingly modest increase of 1.4 per cent on the 2010 event. However, the show ran for four - rather than fi ve - days and the number of international attendees rose by 11 per cent to 29 per cent of the total, lifting the modest achievement into something approaching a roaring success. The international contingent included signifi cant participation from Asia, with strong attendance from Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore and India, all sharing just shy of 95,000sqm of innovative culinary delights. Add to this the fact visitor numbers were likely impacted by a general strike on the show's fi nal day, which paralysed transport links and many elements of the service sector. The event is nonetheless a long way from contesting the giants: Anuga and SIAL. The 2011 edition of Anuga claimed 6,600 exhibitors from 100 countries, who entertained 155,000 trade visitors from 180 countries on 284,000sqm at Messe Cologne. Hot on its heels is SIAL. The 2010 edition claimed 5,800 exhibitors from 106 countries and 136,000 visitors from 200 countries covering 260,000sqm in food and drink at Paris Nord Villepinte, Paris, France. The next edition of SIAL takes place on 21-25 October 2012, Anuga on 5-9 October 2013.

BRINGING THE TASTE OF SPAIN TO SINGAPORESpanish cuisine is the subject of a new event being launched in Singapore in November titled Delicioso Spain. Alongside its reputation as a trading port, Singapore is known as a haven for some of the best food in South East Asia, infl uenced by Malay, Thai, Chinese, Portuguese and Indian cultures.The reason for the renewed international focus? Domestic demand for fi ne cuisine is in decline and the show's organisers are well aware that while Spain wrestles with an economy weakened by the global fi nancial crisis, Asia remains a continent in growth.President of Alimentaria and Fira de Barcelona, Josep Lluís Bonet (pictured), said: "The goal is for Spanish food, beverage and catering companies to use this platform to showcase products in the dynamic Asia-Pacifi c region and in this way compensate for the weak domestic demand, especially in these times of crisis.""Emerging countries in the Asia-Pacifi c," he added, "already have a middle class with an important purchasing potential and new food habits."