RIGA - Business and pleasure came together at the eighth International Trade Fair
for the Food Industry at Riga's Kipsala Hall, Sept. 11 13. Rows of food
from around the world, the newest food preparation technology, the latest in
shopping cart design and as much espresso as one could drink, all made for a
successful and well-attended event.
Participants in the fair came from as far away as Sri Lanka, while a lot of
exhibits were from Latvia itself. Although some of the products on display
are already available in Latvia, many participants had made the journey to
plug their wares.
Kumar V. Deiwanayagam, director of Eswaran Brothers Exports, sat in a booth
surrounded by Sri Lanken teas.
This was his first trip to Latvia, and he meant to undercut the competition
by dealing direct in teas from Sri Lanka.
"You never had good quality tea during the Soviet times, so consequently
more people drink coffee in Latvia than tea," Deiwanayagam said, adding that
his company's tea "is guaranteed from Sri Lanka."
Two girls dressed in colorful Armenian folk costumes helped draw attention
to an Armenian cognac, which businessman Sargsyan Artyom hoped to endear
people to. Latvia is a big consumer of cognac and so it seemed an ideal
place to import the product Artyom said through the help of the two girls
who worked as his interpreters. He added that cognac sales in Latvia have
slowly but steadily increased in recent years.
Local produces were also on show, including locally produced organic goods
and Latvian mineral water offered by women wearing national folk costumes.
Over the years, the event has grown from when it first took place in 1996,
when it drew a little over 12,000 visitors, and 139 participants, to this
year's event, which boasted 555 participants and an estimated 31,000
The three-day event attracted participants from Armenia, Belarus, Croatia,
the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece,
Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Slovak, Sri
Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States and Uzbekistan.
In addition to the buying and selling of products and food, the fair also
provided information about the European Union. Lectures were held on the
implications of EU membership for the food industry, providing the chance
for people to digest a few vital industry facts, along with all the food
they had tasted.