An unprecedented multiethnic buffet has been opened that will distribute a huge amount of food during the coming six months of the Milan Expo.

Some 26 million meals will be prepared for a total of 50,000 tonnes of food specialties from around the world, with an estimated cost of 320 million euros.

The figures were released by the Italian agricultural association Coldiretti on the occasion of the opening of the Expo, which will be visited by 20 million people, of whom about eight million are from abroad.

At the Expo area, an estimated 1.5 million breakfasts will be served, 17 million lunches, 4.4 million snacks and 3.1 million dinners, most of them on weekends. Coldiretti specified that more than 140,000 meals will be distributed per day in restaurants, bars and street stands, but also in foreign pavilions that have their own restaurant.

For the first time in Italy, visitors will have a chance to eat pufferfish. A special exemption has been granted to Japan for the Expo, allowing Japanese chefs to prepare the potentially dangerous dish.

An exception will also be made for Zimbabwe’s crocodile meat, while Thailand has sent to Milan chocolate covered scorpions, giant grubs, dried termites and grasshopper and scorpion vodka. Other insects are expected to be flown in by Vietnam and Burma, where they are consumed regularly.

A wide variety of food will be available during the Expo, from traditional to modern and from cheap to very expensive. But the real news is the first “Campagna Amica Farmer’s Inn”, which will be opened on the roof garden of the Coldiretti pavilion, where farmers from different regions will present local peasant dishes.

According to the cultural association, foreign tourists visiting Italy during the Expo will spend a third of their budget on food. Over a billion euros will be spent in Italy’s many restaurants, pizzerias, bars, cafes and takeaway food places, and another 750 million euro on wine and food gifts.