By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
At just 30,510 square kilometers, Belgium is one of the smallest members of the European Union, coming in at 24th place in terms of area ranking (only Slovenia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta are smaller).
It is also accounts for just over 2 percent of the bloc’s nearly 500-million-strong population.
But while Belgium may be small in size, it is a major global economic powerhouse, with a ranking of Number 20 among the world’s richest countries and an annual GDP of about $494 billion.
And when it comes to Mexico, Belgium ranks third among Mexico’s EU trade partners, with a combined bilateral trade of $4 billion annually. (About $2.8 billion of that total representa Mexican exports to Belgium.)
Moreover, Belgium is also Mexico’s third-largest European investor, right after Germany and Spain, with $13 billion in fresh capital investment here since the year 2000, including the purchase of Grupo Modelo five years ago.
But of the $1.2 billion in goods and services that Belgium sells to Mexico, less than 5 percent fall into the category of food and beverage, although that sector currently accounts for nearly 8 percent of the European nation’s overall annual global annual sales.
Belgian Ambassador to Mexico Antoine Evrand is out to remedy that situation, and to that end, on Thursday, June 29, he hosted the first-ever Sabores de Bélgica (Flavors of Belgium) food and beverage fest at his residence.
A total of 20 Belgian agro-industries participated in the festival, including representatives that country’s most iconic food and beverage sectors, beer and wine.
But as Evrand pointed out to Pulse News Mexico, ”while nearly everyone knows how great Belgian beer and chocolate are, they are not always familiar with the many different types of beer and chocolate we produce.”
“The idea of this fair is so that people can walk around and sample a variety of beers and chocolates and get a taste of all the different varieties Belgium has to offer,” the envoy said.
The fair also showcased lesser-known Belgian quality food and beverages, such as precooked waffles, meat sauces, sweet crackers, sugar, jams and weight-loss products.
Participating in the one-day fair, in alphabetical order, were the following companies: Algara, Barry-Callebaut, Brasserie Caulier, Colona, Couplet Sugars, De Halve Maan, Diet-Line, Europa Beer, Galler, Heineken, Industria Agrícula Carredana, La Belga, Lutosa, Modelo, Mundo Malta, Ponet Spirit, Premium Beers, Puratos, Verdelimón and Wafe´ly.