Doors Close on the Seventh Salone del Gusto - 180,000 visitors
27 Oct 08
The closing press conference for Salone del Gusto, held this afternoon, saw the participation of Mercedes Bresso, President of the Piedmont Regional Authority; Alessandro Altamura, the City of Turin’s Councilor for Commerce, Tourism, Production and Urban Marketing; and Carlo Petrini, Slow Food President. Leading the proceedings was Roberto Burdese, President of Slow Food Italy.
Roberto Burdese and Carlo Petrini began by listing the attendance statistics: Over the event’s five days, around 180,000 visitors flocked to Turin’s Lingotto exhibition center, up four % from the previous edition in 2006 (a projection from 2 pm Monday, the number can be considered effectively definitive). An important increase, considering the slight decline that had been expected as a result of the economic crisis.
“What I’m most happy about is the strong increase in attendance by young people,” said Carlo Petrini. At what someone had already labeled “the thirty-somethings’ Salone,” the number of young people joining the Slow Food movement had actually grown sixfold. Additionally, 2,280 children from 76 schools took part in the school gardens’ education activities.
The presence of visitors from outside Italy was strong, estimated at about 25% of the total, mostly Americans, but also with many from Asia and Eastern Europe. Just one example was the participation of 35 non-Italians out of a total of 40 for a Taste Workshop dedicated to traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena.
The uniting of environmental and gastronomical themes which has always distinguished the Salone from other food and wine fairs was once again greatly in evidence. The success of the Strada Maestra initiative was one example, as were the Terra Madre conferences at the Salone, 11 meetings which were often packed despite being held in large venues.
Regarding the Salone’s reduced environmental impact, Burdese noted that according to Turin’s municipal waste management agency AMIAT, out of the estimated 100,000 kg of refuse produced during the event, more than 60% was divided for recycling, and the overall number was significantly less (down 90,000 kg) than the 2006 edition thanks to the initiatives implemented during the design and set-up phases.
Carlo Petrini closed his speech by announcing the wish of the Lingotto Fiere management to set up a fifth pavilion in time for the 2010 Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre. This would make the events more “airy” and accessible, and the announcement confirmed the desire of Slow Food and its institutional partners to keep Turin as the location for the events.
Regional President Mercedes Bresso expressed great satisfaction for the unexpected increase in attendance despite the current crisis. “It’s a result that underlines how the Salone is considered not just a great market but above all a place for cultural exchange. Additionally, the increase in the presence of non-Italians shows how a network of people who embrace the same philosophy in different parts of the world has been created. In fact the Salone represents a opportunity for all those who belong to an international movement of opinion to come together. This aspect, together with the co-presence of Terra Madre, differentiates us from other food fairs. There’s no doubt that the interest in typical local products and ancient flavors has increased, and that they’ve come back to our tables partly thanks to the 300 Slow Food Presidia. The interweaving between products, attention to the values of farming communities and care for the countryside and environment has proved very successful.”
At the closing of the conference, Councilor Alessandro Atamura recalled that, notwithstanding the negative economic trend, “the increase in the number of participants, particularly those with an international passport, drives us to support more and more the culture of food and wine excellence and the promotion of this land. We are increasingly convinced that events like these have a great effect on the economic and employment fabric of Turin and the region and in the five days of the Salone, more than 20,000 tourist information brochures have been handed out from our stall.”