Olympia exhibitors in positive mood after move to National Hall
The speciality and deli sector is in “rude health” according to leading distributors and suppliers at last week’s Speciality & Fine Food Fair.
The annual three-day trade event at London’s Olympia featured a record number of UK and international producers, after relocating to the two floors of the National Hall from the single-floor Grand Hall due to increased demand for stand space.
Show director Soraya Gadelrab, of organiser Fresh Montgomery, said the move was an opportunity to grow the fair and had been well received by visitors and suppliers.
“The wealth and quality of food and drink products on display has been inspiring, and it’s great to see so many new trends emerging,” she said.
Nikki Castley, buyer at distributor The Cress Co, reported a noticeable rise in the number of independents visiting the show. “A lot of people coming through were looking to open a shop and seeing what’s in the market,” she said, “So it’s still healthy in terms of new people entering, and for me, as a buyer, there’s a phenomenal choice to get around.”
Rupert Titchmarsh, brand manager at Hider Foods, said he couldn’t recall a show with so much new product development in evidence. “There’s a drive in food businesses to reinvent the wheel, but here there are people both from the UK and abroad coming up with interesting lines. The speciality and fine food sector is in rude health.”
With the 2015 Great Taste ‘Golden Forks’ announced at a mid-show awards dinner, the Guild of Fine Food featured many one-,two- and three-star winners in its Great Taste Deli in the National Hall gallery.
Chef Nick Crosley demonstrated dishes using award-winning ingredients, such as a “Great Taste croque-monsieur” made with Juan Pedro Domecq’s Iberico ham (2014 Charcuterie Product of the Year) and shallow-fried in James Whelan Butchers’ 2015 Supreme Champion beef dripping.
Taste of the West – which will host its own regional awards lunch in Taunton later this month – was once again the only English regional food group with a significant presence at this year’s show. Chief executive John Sheaves told FFD the market was buoyant, but it was important for regional suppliers to boost their profile nationally and maximise economies of scale by organising as a group, rather than just chasing individual sales.
Gary Johnston, sales director of Cottage Delight, said he was confident in the independent fine food sector. “Independents remain 90% of our main focus, and we are still seeing growth here,” he said.