Zeina Foods sales and marketing manager Martin Savage reports exclusively from for thegrocer.co.uk from this year's SIAL trade show

What an experience this has been. We’ve been at other shows – IFE, Anuga – but this is our first time at SIAL. It made complete sense for us to be here as the company has really driven the export side of the business recently. Our overseas sales have risen by 127% in the last year, so we saw SIAL as a real opportunity to build on this and the success we have already had from shows like Anuga.

From the first day here, it has been obvious what the value of going to international shows is. As a company we can do export very well, but not necessarily easily. This show has made the business of meeting buyers and distributors a lot simpler and saved significant time. The first day was absolutely manic and I didn’t stop talking to people but as the show’s gone on, it’s settled down a bit.

Our stand was on Food from Britain’s British Pavilion and by being part of a much bigger pavilion has helped draw key visitors to us. FFB has enabled smaller companies, like Zeina Foods, to go to a show like SIAL and test the water to see how we get on – shows are such a minefield and Estelle and Elsa have guided us through every stage and taken out the hassle that usually comes with exhibiting.

I’ve been amazed at the quality of buyers and distributors to the show from all across the world – ironically, I haven’t met any French buyers yet but I have met others from all over. In fact, I have been so busy with business leads that I haven’t had time to look around the show myself yet, but I am hoping I will have time before I leave.