Speciality Fine Food Fair 2019 – 20th Anniversary and Veganomics

Speciality Fine Food Fair 2019 – 20th Anniversary and Veganomics

3 September 2019

The 20th Anniversary of the eagerly anticipated Speciality Fine Food Fair took place earlier this week at Olympia, London. Renowned as the flagship exhibition for launching innovative food brands and products, the show attracted a host of buyers, hoteliers, retailers, restaurateurs and leading food professionals, intent on discovering the latest products from the artisan, fine food and drink industry. This year over eight hundred exhibitors displayed their innovative products in several categories and with the continuing spotlight on health and sustainability issues, vegan and plant based foods were strongly represented. The popular ‘Drinks Cabinet’ section opened its doors for a second year to showcase the booming beverage and drinks market.

Referring to the global trend for plant based products, Speciality and Fine Food Fair Ambassador, Paul Hargreaves, commented ‘Within the next five years Generations X and Y (note 1) will tip over into 50% of consumer spending. A higher percentage of these younger generations are either meat-reducing or complete vegans. Years ago this was more to do with animal wellbeing, but more people now are choosing to be vegan due to the high carbon impact of farming animals. Methane is up to 30 times more damaging than CO2”.

These findings are borne out by a survey carried out in January by Plant Based News, reporting that the UK vegan population will ‘skyrocket’ by 2020 and Vegan Society spokesperson, Dominika Piasecka, added, ‘We would love for all the people who said in the poll that they intend to go vegan act on this idea and we hope the predictions of the number tripling by the end of the year will prove true.’ Another influential article by Guardian Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Rebecca Smithers, reported that a record 250,000 people worldwide had signed up to the ‘Veganuary’ movement, a charity formed to inspire people to become vegan for January and throughout the year. Veganuary recently marked World Plant Milk Day by issuing a plea to coffee chains to remove surcharges imposed on plant-based dairy alternatives, which included almond, coconut, rice, soy and oat milk.

As further research is undertaken to establish the demographic of vegan consumers, market experts Kantar Worldpanel discovered that millennials make up a third of all vegans and that female millennials outnumber their male counterparts by five to one. According to Mintel, the UK has now taken over from Germany as the official world leader for vegan food launches and other findings show that internet searches for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free foods are at an all-time high. FMCG brands are capitalising on this trend witness Waitrose launching 25 own-brand vegan products in 2018. Meatless Farm is the latest in a stream of enquiries from vegan meat substitute producers that have taken advantage of becoming kosher certified with KLBD. Meanwhile back in 2018 veganism was set to be the top culinary trend in Israel. Clearly here kosher certification will add value to any vegan offering.

The hugely popular Speciality Fine Food Fair proved a favourite showcase yet again for many KLBD certified companies, whose Kosher certification credentials helped to generate additional sales revenue by accessing new markets and customers. KLBD certified companies displayed a wide range of exciting products to see and sample on their stands, including Clearspring, Mrs Elswood, H.E. Stringer Flavours, Play n Choc, The Scottish Salmon Company, Zeina Foods and Booja-Booja.

Family-owned business Clearspring showed their fantastic range of authentic Japanese specialities and organic fine foods. Visitors also flocked to the Booja-Booja stand to see and sample their mouth-watering range of dairy free chocolate truffles and ice creams, including the temptingly named Hunky Punky Chocolate variety.  Zeina Foods claim to be ‘nuts about nuts, was clearly evident from their amazing range of pistachios and other types of nuts, whilst staple store cupboard fixture, Mrs Elswood (from Empire Bespoke Foods) displayed traditional and new ranges of pickled cucumbers.  ‘Nature identical’ natural flavourings were exhibited by H.E. Stringer and on another stand; the creative PlaynChoc team demonstrated how puzzles and delicious organic chocolate could be combined to great effect.

The presence of buyers from leading British supermarkets at the show, including Fortnum & Mason, Marks & Spencer, Planet Organic and Sainsbury’s, paved the way for hard to secure, fantastic networking opportunities at the highest level.  British supermarkets continue to report a surge in sales of vegan food and drink, as well as embracing the estimated 22 million ‘flexitarians’, who enjoy meat but want to reduce their meat consumption. The trend for increasing consumer acceptance of meat and fish alternatives has sufficiently grown to allow items such as jackfruit burgers and mushroom ‘shroomdogs’, to be stocked alongside their meat counterparts in 20 branches of Sainsbury’s. Consumer concerns and media coverage about environmental issues caused by large scale production methods also reinforce the desire for purchasing products which use fresh, local ingredients. Kosher certification will double the value of any vegan product claim.

As well as the spectacular array of innovative brands and products on show, visitors could also attend a series of live cooking demonstrations and talks on a variety of thought-provoking topics by distinguished experts in their respective fields. This year’s Fair provided an unparalleled platform for visitors to see, sample and savour the finest produce on the market today, all under one roof.

Note 1  For definitions of Generations X and Y click here.

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