The organiser of IFE11, Fresh RM, has announced an increase in visitor numbers to last week’s event resulting in a total attendance of 28,315 (subject to ABC audit).

A busy and vibrant show left exhibitors and visitors who attended from 13-16 March 2011 in no doubt that the UK’s largest food and drink trade show is still the leading event of its kind in the industry calendar.

During the four-day event, buyers from retailers, wholesalers and foodservice outlets descended on ExCeL from all corners of the globe, to source the newest products and ingredients from 1,137 exhibitors, covering 55 countries. The atmosphere in all areas of the show was very positive, with a number of visitors and exhibitors commenting on the “buzz” felt around the exhibition. IFE11 clearly demonstrated that there is renewed optimism in the food and drink industry.

This year’s show returned with a revitalised outlook and an array of new features, such as New Products Live, Meet the World, The World of Olive Oil, a new English Pavilion and an English Regional Kitchen, designed to help visitors source the best new products from a variety of categories. The organisers of IFE also invested in giving the show a fresh new look and contemporary branding to reflect its premier position in the sector.

Christopher McCuin, IFE11 Event Director, was delighted with the outcome of this year’s show: “The feedback from this year’s IFE has been fantastic. There was certainly an air of positivity on the show floor and exhibitors have remarked on the number of high quality business leads they have received from exhibiting at the event and many have requested to increase their space for 2013. The amount of business being conducted during the show, clearly demonstrates that the food and drink industry has turned the corner and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“We took a number of steps to make the 2011 edition of IFE the best yet and the new show features have been a great success. Our increased focus on ‘new products’ has certainly helped buyers unearth the best innovations from around the world, whilst our seminar and demonstration programmes offered visitors valuable insights into key trends in the food and drink industry. All of which will help companies in the sector build their businesses for a successful future,” added Christopher.

With such a broad spectrum of high-quality senior figures from retail, foodservice, manufacturing and wholesale sectors clambering to source new products and ingredients, there was lots of business being conducted on the show floor.

Charlie Papworth, from exhibitor Bernard Matthews, said: “There was a really good atmosphere on the exhibition floor this year. The show attracts the right people and is the perfect platform for us to educate people about turkey products. We chose IFE11 to launch our newest products into the retail and foodservice sectors and because of the diverse range of visitors there was no better place to do so.”

A buyer from Musgrave Retail Partners, who visited the show, went on to say: “IFE is a great place for us to source new products. There were a number of exciting ideas on display, which we will be looking at closely over the coming months.”

Whilst, Rosanna Butler of Avilton Foods, which showcased its Jamie Oliver range, added: ”We exhibited to raise the profile of the brand and have done just that. We received a number of very good leads and saw international visitors which was extremely encouraging.”

Alongside the exhibition, the Meet the Buyer initiative was a huge success for retail and foodservice buyers, as well as exhibitors. 130 buyers from Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, 3663, Brakes, Compass, Musgrave Foodservices Ireland, Elior, Sodexo, Aramark and the catering team at The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) conducted 350 meetings over three days.

The organisers of IFE11 received more than 2,000 submissions from exhibitors to take part in the programme, which allowed exhibitors to pitch their latest products to these senior industry buyers. It proved to be an extremely useful experience for both parties as exhibitors were able to showcase their innovations to the people that matter. Whilst, buyers were able to source the newest products from across the globe in a cost-efficient manner.

Steve Jobson, Director of Buying at Sodexo, commented: “I am delighted with the feedback from my buying team. We participated in the Meet the Buyer initiative to make sure our current product offering is the best it can be for our customers. We chose to hold meetings with a variety of different suppliers and saw international meat companies as well as artisan cheese businesses. It was undoubtedly a great platform to help us source products.”

One of the biggest feature attractions this year was The Hub, which hosted ‘IFE11 Question Time: The food business in focus’ on Monday, 14 March. The one-hour long seminar featured some of the leading figures in the food and drink industry, including Jim Paice, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Gwyn Jones, Vice President of the NFU, and Meurig Raymond, Deputy President of the Food and Drink Federation. The panel discussed some of the most challenging issues currently facing the food chain. Clive Beddall, ex-Editor of The Grocer and a leading food industry consultant, who chaired the session, said: “I cannot remember an industry session where five movers and shakers and opinion-formers talked so frankly about such prevalent issues.”

Another popular element of this year’s event was New Products Live, a brand new feature that included IFE’s Future Trends seminars, run by Mintel. The sessions offered valuable insights into new product trends and the changing tastes of consumers across a range of product sectors including organic food and drink, frozen food and ‘free-from’ foods.

During the exhibition, IFE’s Fresh Ideas Awards were presented to the ten exhibitors with the best innovations. Judged independently, the winners had their products showcased in New Products Live. There were some great products featured this year including Pidy’s Coloured Mini Cones – crisp corn wafer cones that can be filled with paté, mousse or seafood, Streamdrinks – a brand new range of nutraceutical flavoured waters, and Z Limited’s Fresco, which when added to red wine makes a refreshing Mediterranean drink.

However, it was Peppersmith that won the overall prize, for the launch of its innovative mints, produced using British grown peppermint and no artificial additives. What’s more, the British Dental Health Association accreditation backs up the company’s claim that the mints help reduce plaque and tooth decay. One of the Fresh Ideas judges, commented:

“Peppersmith is a grown-up alternative to chewing gum. This very refreshing, modern product hits all of the key trends; healthy and natural, local (English) provenance. And it also has elegant packaging with a great peppermint taste.”

Another new feature was the English Regional Kitchen, which was designed to tap into the rising consumer interest in food provenance and featured top regional chefs cooking regional dishes using the finest local produce. IFE is the very first trade show to have hosted a pavilion devoted entirely to English food and drink products, representing an industry milestone. Organised in conjunction with the Regional Food Alliance, the English Pavilion brought together leading regional producers, including Luscombe Drinks, Hawkshead Relish, Paxton & Whitfield, Seasoned Pioneers and Styles Farmhouse Ice-cream, who all presented their latest offerings to buyers.

However, the features were not just confined to the retail sector. The Skillery – a demonstration kitchen run by the Craft Guild of Chefs – did not disappoint, with top chefs, including Steve Walpole, Hrishikesh Desai, Francesco Mazzei and Jun Tanaka, giving restaurateurs, hoteliers, cost sector caterers and major foodservice operators insights into the latest developments in the industry. Elsewhere, IFE also hosted the finals of the UK Barista Championships for the first time. The winner, John Gordon, from Square Mile Coffee in London, is now en route to compete against the winners from 75 other countries in the World Barista Championships, held in Colombia.

Christopher McCuin, concluded: “IFE11 highlighted that the food and drink industry is planning for growth, expansion and long term development, and we are already looking forward to the next edition of IFE in 2013, which promises to be bigger and filled with exciting new content for the industry.”

IFE13 will take place at London’s ExCeL from 17-20 March 2013. The show will have a new look layout designed to make the most of the show’s interactive features and events.

 

For more information about exhibiting at IFE13 please contact the the IFE team on 020 7886 3092 or email IFEteam@freshrm.co.uk