If foods and drink are your professions, lucky you, on March you will have a new chance to attend the biennial event IFE, to be held at Excel London from 19th to 22nd March. Is not only the biggest UK trade show for food and drink, but a great inspiration platform and, of course, a unique opportunity to source new products for your business.
We have interviewed the organisers of the event, so don't miss all the details, novelties, activities and trends you will discover on the show floor. Enjoy yourself!
IFE has become the most important trade show in the UK for food & beverage. What do you think that makes it different from other similar shows?
Running for 40 years, IFE is proud to have established its reputation for showcasing the industry’s most innovative products as well as welcoming aspirational exhibitors and inquisitive buyers through its doors.
At Fresh Montgomery, we are proud of what we do and work exceptionally hard to stage dynamic, stand-out events for the UK and international food service, hospitality & retail industries.
IFE brings together buyers and suppliers from across the globe and offers a unique networking opportunity. At each edition of the show, we have hundreds of repeat exhibitors and we believe that is confirmation of the event’s standing within the industry. In fact, one of our regular visitors stated: “I browse at other shows, but at IFE I buy!”
The show takes place every two years, why have you decided for a biennial event instead of an annual one?
IFE has long been established as a biennial event, with the UK as our host nation and London at its heart, we have welcomed visitors every 2 years for more than 20 editions of the event.
Evolving trends and changing consumer demands continue to lead the way in shaping the food and drink landscape. The International Food & Drink Event 2017 is dedicated to showcasing the full scope of today’s ground-breaking products. It’s the place to discover new products from 1,350 food & drink manufacturers and identify a range of future trend predictions.
In 2015, we saw coconut crisps, coconut water, seaweed and savoury popcorn at the forefront of innovation and in 2017 we are already seeing some clear trends emerge.
With an annual show we don’t think we could offer such an in depth perspective. At IFE you can discover the products that will be driving the industry forward in years to come.
What are the highlights of the next edition? New products, sectors...?
Every year we ask our exhibitors and visitors for feedback. We want to make sure that everyone feels that they have gained something from their IFE experience - whether it’s developing new sales leads, finding the latest, most innovative products or keeping up to date with the latest category insight. This show will be bigger and better than ever before with nine easy identifiable sections including Health & Wellbeing, Snacks & Confectionery and Great British & Irish Food.
New for this year, we have introduced “Trend Trails”. The simple to follow Trend Trail maps will highlight relevant stands to source new and on-trend produce. The Trend Trails will help buyers walk a dedicated path allowing them to discover the latest products and suppliers in a specific category such as ‘free from foods’.
IFE is the only event in the UK dedicated to the whole food & drink industry and where you can be sure to find all the latest innovation. It’s the place to see and hear first hand the latest products emerging into the market. Cleaner eating and flexitarian diets will continue to shape the market this year. Alternative proteins are key and positioning them in an appealing way is something that the industry is putting a lot of thought into. We have a number of exhibitors – such as Yumpa who use cricket flour and Nutristrength who use sheep, goat and peas, to bring the topic of alternative proteins to a more mainstream audience.
Can you give some tips for those exhibiting for the first time in London and specifically at IFE?
IFE is the ideal place to launch new products into the market, with the opportunity to showcase your brand to an audience of qualified buyers. They will have reviewed the exhibitor list ahead of their visit and plan to spend a couple of hours walking the show. Ensure you are always professional on your stand, don’t over-sell and ask for their details straight away, give them time to explore your products. They won’t want to carry around lots of heavy collateral, so consider bringing A4 size sale sheets which include your USPs, RRP, case sizes and most importantly good high-res pack shots that display how your products will appear on the shelf.
I also can’t stress how important your packaging is, its not just there to protect the product, its your brand identity and ambassador and will make your product shine (or not) on the shelf. It’s a key criteria that all buyers are looking for when sourcing suppliers at IFE.
As in previous years, IFE’s is co-located with Waste-Works, the UK’s only waste & sustainability event for the food industry and Pro2Pac, the UK’s only food & drink packaging event. Together the three events cover the entire supply chain, and we are offering a concierge service to bring together packaging brands and manufacturers to maximise exhibitor benefits.
During the show, we can enjoy about different activities and seminars. Do you recommend us an activity in particular?
There’s so much choice, there’s literally something for everyone – but we know that can be a little challenging sometimes. In 2017, we are launching an exclusive online visitor planning tool that will enable buyers to create a personalised itinerary that includes the key seminars and suppliers than they simply don’t want to miss.
We’ve created two new theatres and guarantee a spectacular speaker line up who will address some of the big issues topics facing the industry as well as share their unrivalled insight. The Talking Trends theatre, hosted by Saturday Kitchen wine critic, Jane Parkinson, will shine a spotlight on the newest NPD entering the market. While the Big Picture theatre, hosted by Andrew D Scott MIH, Owner of Victus Consultancy, will tackle the hard-hitting issues facing the industry.
Can anybody attend IFE?
IFE is a trade only event. Whether you're a multiple or an independent retailer, convenience store, wholesaler, distributor, hotel, cafe, restaurant or contract caterer, you'll discover exciting products and original ideas that will inspire you and ensure your business is bursting with renewed energy.
Lastly, can you give us some participation results from last edition (2015)?
In 2015, 29,000 industry professionals came through our doors and we are confident that we will see numbers expand this year. Across the four-day event, we expect to welcome buyers from more than 100 countries and a range of sectors including multiple and independent retailers, convenience stores, wholesalers, caterers and hospitality.
As ever we also expect to be really busy, hugely inspired by the suppliers large and small and humbled by the effort and commitment that our exhibitors put into their brands. IFE 2017 is the best food and drink show in the UK and we know that buyers will leave definitely having seen something new, something unexpected and heard something from a speaker or a supplier which made them genuinely stop and think! It’s going to be a great show and we’re really looking forward to opening the doors in March.