Thousands of food and drink industry professionals had an opportunity last week to taste products from a group of local companies, mostly smaller enterprises, at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair in London, one of the biggest annual showcases for the industry in Europe.
The Speciality and Fine Food Fair is the UK’s market-leading trade event for fine food and drink, attracting buyers from retail, foodservice, hospitality and wholesale from virtually everywhere.
The vast show at Olympia attracted over 10,000 quality trade buyers from the UK and overseas who were looking to source new artisan, speciality and luxury food and drink, and was an excellent platform to promote products and do business.
As a result, the fair has become the most influential annual gathering of artisan, speciality and luxury food and drink producers, manufacturers and distributors.
It created the opportunity for the industry to differentiate their company’s offering – be it their menu, shop shelves, gift boxes, websites – by meeting thousands of inspiring new and specialist producers in one place.
Funding issues, it is understood, at Invest NI meant there wasn’t the usual Northern Ireland pavilion at the fair.
Three local companies exhibited independently – Ballylisk of Armagh cheese; Glenarm Organic Salmon from County Antrim; and Kestrel/Forest Feast of Craigavon.
All the Northern Ireland companies reported doing good business at this hugely important event for the food and drink industry here, in Britain, the Republic of Ireland and other parts of the world.
Norman Murray, marketing director at Glenarm Organic Salmon, Northern Ireland’s most internationally successful salmon farm, said: “Speciality Food proved to be a very busy show for us that generated a large number of solid leads to follow up in the weeks ahead.
“We’d expect to do business from the contacts and the samples requested from interested retailers and hospitality businesses.
“Overall, it was a great show with great prospects resulting from our participation. Here’s to some new customers for our premium Glenarm Organic Salmon in the coming months,” he added.
The small County Antrim producer already has extensive export business in the US, Asia and the Middle East, especially with high-end hotels and restaurants.
Deirdre Burns, marketing manager at Kestrel Foods, the producer of a wide range of nuts and dried fruits, including an acclaimed portfolio of gourmet nuts, which recently attracted orders from many of the leading retailers in the United Arab Emirates, added: “Our team at the show was immensely encouraged by the interest shown in our products from the many visitors to our stand. The feedback was very positive.”
And it was a similar story from Mark Wright, the managing director of Ballylisk of Armagh cheese, which was one of the finalists in the UK Great Taste Awards the previous evening.
Mark said: “It was another terrific show for us in terms of interest in our range of cheeses and especially the Single Rose farmhouse brie, which won three stars in this year’s Great Taste Awards.
“We’ve lots of business leads to follow up and influential people to talk to.”
Other local products featured on the special Great Taste presentation of three-star winners this year, including Corndale Farm chorizo from Limavady.
The event showcased a wide range of innovation in the UK food and drink market, from established speciality brands to start-ups in their early years of operation, plus an opportunity to meet with unique international food brands from countries including Belgium, France, South Korea, Italy and the Netherlands, plus regions such as the Caribbean and west and central Africa.
The Speciality and Fine Food Fair has been the go-to showcase for emerging and established brands within the artisan, fine food and drink industry for over two decades. The fair is a second-to-none opportunity to launch new products, promote existing food and drink and meet the industry. It’s a great platform from which to share knowledge and innovations. With a reputation for propelling some key industry names to success, the 2022 show was the biggest edition yet.
What it offered our companies was the opportunity to meet an elite range of buyers and retailers, including multiples, farm shops and delicatessens, chefs, hoteliers, restaurateurs and many more.
The Speciality and Fine Food Fair is now firmly established as the home of fine food and drink discovery for buyers from across the retail, hospitality, foodservice, manufacturing, import and export, and wholesale sectors.
Another important feature was the opportunity to learn the latest trends and insights from top industry experts at special events such as workshops and seminars.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.