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Wow, here we are, 2022!
What a rollercoaster it has been for our industry. As I reflect on the past two years, it’s amazing to think of the resilience, innovation and inspiration that’s come from both speciality food and drink businesses and independent retailers across the UK.
The IFE, International Food & Drink Event, team have naturally been keeping our fingers on the pulse of industry trends, and, as always, consumer attitudes and behaviours have been hugely influential in how retailers and food and drink businesses have approached the challenges of the past year. For those unfamiliar with our event, for over 40 years IFE has been a centre of industry innovation and new product discovery in the world of food and drink, welcoming over 30,000 key industry buyers and showcasing 1,500 exciting suppliers.
It’s an unmissable sourcing opportunity for retailers and wholesalers looking to get ahead of the latest trends and grow their businesses. When the event returns on 21-23 March 2022 at ExCeL London this will be no different, despite and (even because of) the challenges of the past two years. The value of trade exhibitions – of face-to-face networking, hearing first-hand the story of a business and being able to taste a wide range of products – has become clearer than ever and we can’t wait for you to experience everything we have in store.
Wholesalers operating in the food and drink sector are an important audience for IFE and we’re thrilled to be one of the newest members of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors. As Louis Tsaparelli of Davin Foods told us, it’s vital for wholesalers to build close relationships with suppliers, see the development of new trends first-hand and discover and sample innovative products.
We’re excited to be showcasing a huge variety of popular product categories in March, and to be providing opportunities for our buyers to discover the next big thing.
Across the board, from consumer buying habits to new product launches to investment and venture capital trends, vegan & plant-based is booming. Matthew Glover, MD of Veg Capital and Co-Founder of Veganuary and VFC (Vegan Fried Chicken), one of our speakers at IFE 2022, has commented that as an investor in the vegan food market his focus is squarely on removing animals from the food system. This means the vast majority of investments are in innovative companies aiming to directly replace products such as meat, fish, egg and dairy.
In response to growing interest from retailers, from specialist supermarkets to large multiples, and to the explosion of new products and businesses, IFE is introducing a dedicated Vegan & Plant Based Section, in partnership with the Vegan Society, for 2022.
We’re excited to be joined at the show by big players in the vegan and plant-based sector such as The Meatless Farm and Beyond Meat, companies that have been leading the way when it comes to innovation in the sector, and exciting new businesses like Plant Alternative, which delivers authentic Asian chef-inspired restaurant quality meals nationwide.
As the name might suggest, in addition to being the world’s largest showcase of UK food & drink businesses, IFE is a vital hub for the import and exports market and an invaluable chance for UK retailers and wholesalers to meet and build relationships with innovative international suppliers.
Partnerships such as our recently announced collaboration with Pakistan Britain Business Council, alongside exhibiting bodies such as the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, provide unrivalled access to international suppliers new to the UK food and drink market, with advice and guidance on hand from partners such as the Food & Drink Exporters Association. More than 100 countries will be represented at the event, including a number of national and regional pavilions from Turkey, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, the US, Portugal and more.
The Future Food Stage at IFE will be partnering with some of the industry’s leading agencies and retail leaders to look ahead to the trends of tomorrow. Expect insightful consumer behaviour analysis from IGD, sustainability trends from thefoodpeople’s Charles Banks, vital market research from FMCG Gurus and guidance from Euromonitor on meeting the needs of the health-focused customer.
New for 2022, IFE will be partnering with sister events Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC), The Pub Show, London Produce Show and IFE Manufacturing, which we’re excited to be launching as the UK’s dedicated showcase of end-to-end food and drink manufacturing and product development. Focussing on everything from packaging solutions and technologies to manufacturing to ingredients, along with a jam-packed seminar programme on the Innovation Platform, this show is a perfect extension of IFE’s offering to the food and drink community.