Monday, 21 March 2011

To show or not to show?

I made a trip to London’s ExCeL centre last week for IFE2011, the UK’s largest food and drink trade event. It’s not my first time to a show of this kind - a huge event, attended by some of the biggest buyers in the business - but speaking to exhibitors there seemed to be a real mix of opinions about its worth.

I was surprised to hear one supplier tell me it was his “biggest waste of money in the last three years” and another weary exhibitor hoping for more from day three than his first two days which were “full of students looking for samples and PRs trying to sell their services” (ahem). A sad reflection on an otherwise impressive show packed with products, demonstrations and seminars.

Fortunately it wasn’t all doom and gloom as one soft drinks manufacturer told me that 70% of his 40 biggest clients had visited the stand in two days. He’d struggle to speak to that many in a month without events like IFE. And there can be no doubt though that for smaller producers and manufacturers, particularly those in the speciality and regional food section, shows like this are a godsend.

IFE offers a sales platform like no other and judging by the sheer quantity of local products on show it seems the Grocer was right to say local is the new organic. I tried some fantastic local products including ice cream with no added sugar from moocluck, tasty fruit liqueurs from Simply Liqueurs and some great new bars from Ashbourne Foods.

I for one can’t wait for the next show. Even if it’s just to try more moocluck!


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