Food and Drink Expo 2016 took place last week at the NEC in Birmingham and as expected, it saw record numbers of visitors. The show was promoted as providing the “number one route to the UK food and drink market, helping hundreds of companies showcase their wares”.
Over the course of three days, visitors from all walks of the food industry attended the stands, the seminars and the exhibited products.
According to figures from the last Food and Drink Expo in 2014, 31% of visitors were key foodservice buyers from various venues, including independent cafés, caterers, coffee shops, large restaurants and hotel chains. 18% of visitors were from the speciality food market from farm shops, delicatessens, garden centres, speciality food halls, butcheries and bakeries, with 25% from the manufacturing sector.
The Grocer Talking Shop Live took centre stage, with an action-packed programme and a top line-up of speakers. These included Nadiya Hussein, reigning champion of the Great British Bake Off who took time off from baking the Queen’s 90th birthday cake to attend.
The Great Health Debate discussed changing eating habits and the rising obesity problem as well as investigating the changes required when it comes to targeting millennials versus the ageing society.
Topical sessions included talks on gluten-free products and the sugar debate with Gavin Partington, Director General of the British Soft Drinks Association and Ian Twinn, Director of Public Affairs at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers debating the drinks scandals.
The Grocer Talking Shop Live concluded on Wednesday with a Meet the Dragons session at where entrepreneurs put forward their best innovations for potential funding to an expert panel.
The Food and Drink Expo, co-located with the Farm Shop & Deli Show and the National Convenience Show was particularly focused on international cuisine, which was heavily represented. According to the World Cuisines Report 2014, the market has seen strong growth in recent years, with retail value sales increasing by 32% from 2008 to 2013. This is due in part to a wider range of ethnic cuisine, the UK’s diverse ethnic population, international travel and our national enthusiasm for trying novel foods!
Also very popular was the Great New Idea Competition, where industry professionals voted for their favourite products ahead of the event. Three finalists were chosen from hundreds of products, including Nim’s Fruit Crisps, with its healthy range of fruit and vegetable crisps; Craft beer Growlers, with its PEGAS CraftTap 2.0 and Purbeck Ice Cream, with its Dorset Wasabi ice cream.
Interestingly for British food companies, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) has also partnered with Food & Drink Expo and Foodex to support British businesses who are seeking to expand overseas. There is a big vote coming up about whether or not to stay in Europe and whatever the outcome, British businesses are keen to sustain and maintain a lucrative presence overseas. The Food & Drink Expo demonstrated the need and the enthusiasm for the industry to continue to expand and find innovations for future requirements.
At AC Services (Southern), we heartily support trade shows and have a vested interest in seeing what is new and what is trending. This enables us to provide the most up-to-date and relevant advice and support for all of our customers in providing and maintaining the perfect Rational appliance for market needs. So we’re looking forward to the next Food And Drink Expo in 2018.