Gastronomy is much more than a mere source of sustenance. It is a language, an artistic expression deeply rooted in the cultural identity of a people. Through its flavors, aromas, and culinary techniques, gastronomy transcends borders, allowing us to explore and understand the richness of the cultures that create it. On this occasion, I am pleased to discuss with you a deeper perspective on this industry, and how it is more than just a basic necessity; it is a way of communicating, sharing, and celebrating. Gastronomy as a Reflection of Cultural Identity A region's cuisine mirrors its history, traditions, and values. Each dish, each ingredient, tells a story about its place of origin. For example, Mexican cuisine is a blend of flavors and cooking techniques from pre-Hispanic, European, and African cultures, while French cuisine is known for its sophistication and use of high-quality ingredients. Both are historical archives where the influences of past generations are found. Gastronomy as a Form of Communication In a globalized world, gastronomy has become a bridge that connects people from different backgrounds. Eating together is a way to build bonds and understand cultural differences. When we share a meal prepared with love and care, we engage in a silent conversation

Wagyu beef is growing in popularity and there are few signs of it slowing. In 2021, the global Wagyu market was worth more than $11 billion. This was a banner year as Japan exported around 8,000 tons of the gourmet beef cut. Now, the global market is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 6 percent–making it worth an estimated $16 billion by 2028. The food industry is being impacted by inflation, supply chain issues, and climate change, but Wagyu appears to be weathering the storm. From steak to high-priced burgers, the revered protein is becoming more commonly consumed. Here are the factors driving Wagyu’s popularity: The luxury hospitality sector Known for its tenderness and buttery, umami flavor, Wagyu has been a fine-dining favorite since the 2010s–when Japan lifted its export ban to the United States and European countries. Luxury establishments like restaurants and hotels are still fueling the Wagyu beef market today. While some lucky customers can find Wagyu in high-end grocery and specialty stores, the market is sustained by a business-to-business model–particularly with fine dining. A large majority, 85 percent, of Wagyu sales are B2B. As a testament to the importance of B2B commerce, it’s not uncommon for a Wagyu brand to partner with luxury

Americans love beer. In 2021, 187 million barrels of beer were consumed, making it a $100 billion market. So it might be shocking to learn that for the first time, distilled spirits surpassed beer in sales in 2022–with spirit sales at 42.1 percent of the alcoholic beverage market share and beer at 41.9 percent. While this news marks a new turn in the beverage industry, it may not be surprising to those who’ve followed consumer trends in the last decade. Distilled spirits have steadily grown in popularity, gaining market share for 13 years until becoming America’s beverage of choice in 2022. Not only is this great for the country’s liquor companies and retailers, but it’s also welcomed news for the hospitality industry. On-premise spirit sales are still 5 percent below where they were pre-pandemic. However sales are trending upward–a good, albeit slow, sign of recovery for the hospitality industry. How spirits surpassed beer Americans spending more on drinks while they dine out isn’t the only trend driving sales. The market also got a boost from the current cocktail wave sweeping the nation, such as the espresso martini revival. High-end spirits also helped grow the market. Premium sales accounted for more than 60 percent of the sector’s revenue last year, according to the