March 10, 2009, PARIS –
My last day at Europain was a success as I had a long conversation with
Mark Pennington (pictured), Barry Callebaut's regional gourmet sales manager for
western Canada. Mark had been in Europe since March 1 as part of a
special pre-show tour Callebaut organized for around 20 of its
customers in the Vancouver area. The tour included two days in
Brussels, Belgium, visiting local pastry shops and chocolatiers, as
well as Callebaut's production facility there.
Mark described Europain as a "huge" event for Callebaut and its subsidiaries Cacao Barry, Corma and Van Leer. Indeed, the family of companies occupied nearly an entire row at Europain with a series of engaging, informative stands, a VIP lounge and a demo area where professionals would conduct sessions on how to work with Callebaut's products.
Mark said he was slightly disappointed that the North American presence at Europain seemed to be down compared with years past. He said it could be chalked up to lingering effects from the recession as bakers and confectioners seek to cut travel costs. For its part, though, Callebaut spares no expense bringing its valued customers over for the show. At the next Europain, their clients in eastern Canada will have their turn. Mark sees this as building and strengthening prized relationships in a time when loyalties are being tested.
OK, I must wrap this up as I need to head to Charles de Gaulle Airport for my flight back to Toronto. It's been an incredible five days in Paris. Watch for more coverage of Europain in the April 2010 edition of Bakers Journal.