lunch! returned to London’s ExCel last week to the delights of food retailers, food-to-go operators, café and coffee shop buyers and owners, travel and leisure caterers.
The line-up of the show included 62 speakers appearing in 36 Keynote Theatre sessions, and more than 400 exhibitors.
This is a record number of exhibitors. They showcased a huge range of products and services; from ingredients to kitchen equipment and counter displays, food and drink to packaging, payment and business services.
One of the highlights of lunch! is the Innovation Challenge award. Where this year, a record 110 competed with many of these innovations enjoying their official trade launch at the show. The products competing for a much-coveted gold Innovation Challenge Award were showcased in the Innovation Challenge Gallery. lunch! visitors chose the award finalists by voting for their favourites on opening day.
A significant part of the show was set aside for plant-based and ‘meat-free’ innovations. This catered for café, coffee shop, food-to-go operators and retailers looking to cater to the thriving vegan and flexitarian market. According to Marketing Week, last year, the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation. This made it the country’s fastest growing culinary trend of 2018 with a market worth of £310m. Approximately 22 million people now claim to be flexitarian and one in eight Britons choose to be vegetarian or vegan. To reflect this, 52% of exhibitors at lunch! offered vegan or vegetarian alternatives.
Sustainability in Catering
Sustainability was another key theme. As some of foodservice’s biggest consumers of single-use packaging and disposables; coffee shop and food-to-go operators have been making huge strides to reduce their environmental impact. The Sustainability Panel addressed these issues with keynote speakers and included some of the top names in the industry; Ollie Rosevear, Head of Environment at Costa Coffee, Martyn Clover, Head of Food at Tortilla, Jim Winship, Director of The British Sandwich & Food To Go Association, and host Martin Kersh, Chairman of the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA).
The Panel also addressed contemporary issues such as tackling food waste, increasing food redistribution, reducing energy and water consumption, more recycling and reusing (packaging, uniforms, furniture etc), looking to alternative food sources, and encouraging behavioural change.
Hannah Squirrell, Customer Director at Greggs said: “the ‘Blue Planet effect’ has driven customer awareness of the environmental impact of their consumption choices to a whole new level. We are proud to support national environmental initiatives, including Surfers Against Sewage Beach and River Clean Series, and are committed to doing our bit to protect the health of the planet.”
For reusable alternatives, visitors were able to see innovations such as the Ecocoffee Cup created with natural fibres made from bamboo waste material sourced from chopstick production. Similarly, Berrington Spring Water’s Aluminium Refill Water Bottle launched in June has tripled sales projections.
Lunch! is a great show to keep tabs on recent innovations and trends after a long summer. One for all catering businesses to put on the diary for 2020.