Speciality & Fine Food Fair returns as the must-attend event for artisan food & drink
Speciality & Fine Food Fair returned to Olympia London on 5-6 September as the UK's leading showcase of artisanal food & drink, with thousands of specialty retailers and hospitality professionals trusting the Fair to streamline their product sourcing.
Hundreds of artisan food & drink producers from across the UK and around the world unveiled their latest new products and unique ranges to senior industry buyers from independent retail, wholesale, farm shops, delicatessens, garden centres and more.
Naomi Mills, Foodhall Senior Assistant Buyer at House of Bruar, commented: “Every year I look forward to the Speciality & Fine Food Fair and this year did not disappoint. Being able to meet so many people from across the globe in one go is a great advantage of attending the Fair, and we always feel that it is most definitely worth the trip to London.”
Visitors to the Fair were thrilled by the all-new Taste the Trends Kitchen, where Chef Consultant Steve Walpole used products from the Fair to highlight key culinary trends such as plant-based, healthy eating and the influences of Japanese and Korean flavours on western cuisine.
The Kitchen also hosted exclusive partner sessions including a showcase from Grana Padano, the world's leading PDO cheese, and a first look at the Great Taste Supreme Champion for 2022, Kadode Kampot Pepper UK.
As always, the Fair's Discovery Zone was jam-packed, as buyers flocked to check out the businesses which had launched over the past three years. Equally popular was the Sustainability Zone, where visitors could check out the producers putting the planet at the heart of their products and business strategy.
Stefano Cuomo, CEO of Macknade, commented: “What a fantastic Fair – the quality of the top floor indies and start-ups was brilliant, not only in the range of newcomers, but also in the distribution channels offered.
“The ground floor pavilions were an excellent opportunity to learn about food and drinks from across the globe, and again illustrated the importance of the specialty food and drink sector in underlining how we are an integrated global society, linked through food and drink, and the importance of knowledge and experience to our customers – cracking event and after all these years it still gets better and better!”
Insights into the fine food & drink market
The Fair's Food for Thought Stage saw back-to-back sessions across the two days of the event with leading retailers, industry experts and hospitality business owners sharing insights into some of the most important trends and topics in the 2022 food & drink landscape.
André Lewis, Head of Food, Wine & Spirits at Harrods, took to the stage to give visitors a peek behind the scenes at the iconic retailer, discussing white labelling, the power of the Harrods brand and the importance of understanding what can turn an ordinary product into a luxury purchase.
Stephen Minall, Co-Founder of FDReviews hosted a session on fantastic food failures, looking into some of the common pitfalls and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the sector and how they can pave the wave for future success.
Day two of the Fair saw an inspiring session on recruitment and retention in the sector, and how the world of food & drink can provide greater opportunities and support to prospective employees. Panellist Annie Gale, Head of RAW Talent and Apprenticeships at COOK, commented: “It's been a great day: good fun and really lively with loads of stuff to do and see, taste and touch. I think the content sessions have been really valuable. It's a great way to enter a dialogue with people in the same industry dealing with the same stuff, and to share ideas.”
At the Inspiration Bar, Mixology School ran masterclasses across the two days elevating a range of cocktails with premium spirits and innovative low and no alcohol brands, sharing key insights into marketing and upselling alcoholic beverages in the worlds of retail and hospitality.
Celebrating food & drink innovation
The first day of the Fair saw both Pitch Live, sponsored by Virgin StartUp, and the Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards take place on the Food for Thought Stage.
Botanical infused water brand Luxwells came away with the top prize in Pitch Live, after Founder Kristal Baker impressed the judges with her five-minute pitch.
“I'm speechless! I didn't expect to win,” she commented. “This is such an amazing opportunity and I'm really glad that the brand was received as intended.”
A spokesperson for Virgin StartUp added: “Virgin StartUp are a proud partner of Speciality Fine Food Fair. The partnership aligns well to Virgin StartUp's purpose to empower founders to start-up and thrive, the Fair provides an amazing opportunity for founders to meet game-changing connections in the food & drink industry to help them take their business to the next level."
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards saw the West Moreland family win the Outstanding Industry Champion award for their exceptional and unique motorway services, championing fresh produce and quality cooking.
Cobbs Farm Shop won Large Independent Retailer of the Year, while Laura's Larder was awarded Small Independent Retailer of the Year. Foie Royale came away with Innovative Product of the Year and Likkle More Chocolate secured International Product of the Year. Finally, Blackthorn Seasalt was awarded Sustainability Pioneer of the Year.
Tom Newey, Chief Executive of Cobbs Farm Shop commented: “I'm so pleased to have won this, especially given the other businesses nominated, and it's fantastic to be celebrating independent retail and coming together as a community at what continues to be a challenging time for the sector.”
Speciality & Fine Food Fair will return to Olympia London on 11-12 September 2023. To stay up to date with the latest news, trends and insights, subscribe to the Speciality & Fine Food Fair newsletter.