Can Expo 2015 Feed the Economic Recovery in Europe?

With the theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, Nutrition will be the central focus at Expo 2015, the world exhibition that will take place in Milan from May to October 2015. The event will see pavilions organised by more than 145 countries together with international organisations and corporate entities exhibiting new ideas and projects themed around food sustainability and nutrition. The event, thanks to its scope and size, represents an opportunity both for Milan and for the broader European economy.

The previous edition of the event was held in Shanghai in 2010. The legacy for China was that the event boosted the international visibility of the country and changed the perception of China from being just the “workshop” of the world and showed that among Chinese consumers there is a sizeable middle-to-affluent class capable of turning China into an export market for foreign goods.

However, in Milan priorities are different compared to Shanghai, and instead of focusing on launching an emerging economy, in the European context Expo 2015 can contribute to bringing back economic growth to an economy that for too long has at best stagnated. Italy and the EU are just starting to come out of a long period of recession. The hitherto feeble economic recovery could now be boosted by a series of macroeconomic factors that should help the European economy to get back on track. The combination of a low euro against the US dollar, low interest rates, high liquidity, and low oil and commodities prices could all contribute to kick-start the European economy, and, in this context, Expo 2015 could function as a trigger to the economic recovery, considering that the event will see more than 20 million visitors from around the world and the direct involvement of multinational corporations, including Coca-Cola, Ferrero and Samsung, which will create a favourable environment for numerous business events organised during and around the world exhibition.

Food manufacturers will be the main beneficiaries of the event, given a theme centred on food sustainability and nutrition. The event will provide an opportunity to show the world how their products are sourced and produced responsibly and how, as organisations, they respond to the challenges that a growing world population imply for food production. For example, Illy, the Italian coffee producer, is an official partner of Expo 2015, and, in this capacity, together with the International Coffee Organisation, will be in charge of the Coffee Pavilion, which will illustrate the history of the beverage, its nutritional properties and the journey of a coffee bean “from the earth to the cup”. This will provide Illy with the chance to show how its coffee is sourced responsibly and sustainably using a commodity that, because of climate change, will become increasingly precious in the future.

In Shanghai the organisation of the 2010 universal exhibition provided a reason to invest in roads and rail links and to prepare the city to meet its ambitions of becoming a global financial centre. Similarly, Expo 2015 has already boosted infrastructure investments, transforming Milan’s skyline and improving transport infrastructure. However, infrastructure alone will not guarantee economic development, and it is ultimately up to how companies will be able to take advantage of the visibility that the event provides as to whether Expo 2015 will be a trigger for a European economic recovery.

During Expo 2015 opening week, Euromonitor International will participate in TuttoFood at Fiera Milano from 3rd to 6th May. Euromonitor’s expert industry analysts will hold seminars on the latest global trends on nutrition and packaged food.

Learn more about our new Nutrition research in our free webinar.