Food & Drink Expo and its co-located shows bring together over 1200 suppliers plus 100 informative sessions from more than 250 experts

For two decades Food & Drink Expo has provided a vibrant platform to touch, taste and experience an exciting and eclectic mix of undiscovered brands and household names alike.

Thousands of visitors poured through the NEC doors to visit Food & Drink Expo 2016 last week. With more than 1,200 exhibitors under one roof across four co-located shows, the event attracted representatives from the grocery, wholesale, speciality retail, manufacturing and foodservice sectors. Food & Drink Expo ran alongside Foodex, Farm Shop & Deli Show and National Convenience Show to provide visitors with an all-encompassing view of the industry.

Undoubtedly a success, an impressive 35% of floor space has already been rebooked by return exhibitors with more than 100 companies keen to return to the next edition of the show in 2018. Among those that have confirmed their return are Campden BRI, Bridor, Vleems Foods, Wensleydale Cheese and Grocery Accelerator.

Daphne Davies, Business Development Manager at Campden BRI, said: “We’ve used this show as a platform to focus on our new offerings, our breakfast sessions have worked particularly well. We would definitely come back again and we have already rebooked for 2018. Overall we’ve had a positive experience at the show and are really happy with the organisation of the event.”

Meanwhile, Richard Fowler, Head of Sales at Sponge Cakes, said: “We had a constant stream of people at the stand and lots of new business prospects including new supplier leads. We will definitely be coming next year.”

The show saw the winner of the Great New Idea Competition announced following the entry of more than 160 products. Nims Fruit Crisps took the prize for Best New Idea for its Vegetable Crisps. The range includes 100% Natural Air Dried Pepper & Courgette, Beetroot & Parsnip and Tomato & Cucumber crisps, which are all sliced and aired to perfection without the use of oil. The award was presented to Nimisha Raja, Founder of Nim’s Fruit Crisps by Adam Leyland, Editor of The Grocer.

Raja said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic to have won the Great New Idea competition; I’ve never won anything before! I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to have my products judged in this competition especially as I’m still a start-up brand.”

Alongside the winner, exhibitors Bruschetta de Sophie, Graze, Thirst Quencher and Yumcha Drinks were announced as runners up.

The Grocer Talking Shop Live took centre stage at Food & Drink Expo 2016 with an action-packed programme that provided visitors with insights into the latest issues affecting the UK food and drink market. Speakers included Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, who ran a demonstration of her greatest baking tips that won her first place on the BBC programme.

A well-attended and highly topical Great Health Debate also took place at the show where a panel of experts discussed the rising obesity problem along with the challenges and opportunities it presents for food companies. Tim Rycroft, Corporate Affairs Director, the Food & Drink Federation; Anna Jones, chef, author and food stylist; and Amanda Ursell, nutritionist and journalist for The Times and The Sun, gave their thoughts during this session.

Other major food and drink industry topics were covered in the form of the sugar debate and a discussion around food waste. Business Broadcaster Steph McGovern hosted the sugar debate, which was joined by Gavin Partington, Director General of the British Soft Drinks Association and Ian Twinn, Director of Public Affairs at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers. They discussed whether the onus is on manufacturers to cut added sugar or if it is a matter for proposed reduction measures brought in by the government.
A star-studded panel of experts also gathered to debate the issue of food waste, chaired by Richard Fox, ambassador for Love Food Hate Waste. The panel included chef Arthur Potts Dawson; TV chef Simon Rimmer; Hannah Gallimore, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Central England Co-operative; Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability at Sainsbury’s; and Richard Swannell, UK Director at WRAP.

Visiting the event, Bret Rogers, New Product Development at the Village Bakery, said: “There are lots of exciting brands at the show which is really useful to my business. It’s great to come here and get new ideas.”

Dan Dixon, Event Director, commented: “Food & Drink Expo was a huge success this year with thousands of visitors and products on display. The Grocer Talking Shop Live saw a number of highly topical and well-attended sessions with some top industry names lending their expertise to debates.”

Food & Drink Expo was co-located with Foodex, Farm Shop & Deli Show and National Convenience Show. The next Food & Drink Expo will take place from 16-18 April 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham.

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For more information contact Lesley Foottit or Annalise Evans on 020 7240 2444 or email wrbm@stormcom.co.uk.

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