Speciality Fine Food Menu
Universally regarded as the UK’s leading showcase for the artisan food and drinks industry, this year’s Speciality & Fine Food Fair took centre stage at Olympia on 11 – 12 September. This highly anticipated annual trade fair attracted a phenomenal 10,000 plus industry members, from the best-known names in the sector to small local producers.
A packed programme of activities across the two-day exhibition included a unique opportunity to sample products from two hundred new-to-market companies in the Start-Up Village. A launchpad for future industry trailblazers, the start-up zone enticed large numbers of visitors eager to gain an insight into future products and trends. Three lucky start-ups were selected to pitch to a panel of industry experts, while the 2023 Great Taste Awards featured a ‘star system’ for the accolade of one, two or three-star awards ranging from ‘simply delicious’ and ‘outstanding’ to the coveted three stars for ‘extraordinarily tasty food and drink’. Country pavilions included representation from Scotland, Netherlands, Flanders (Belgium), Italy, France, Spain and Latvia.
Another draw for visitors was the thought-provoking seminar programme, complete with a dedicated stage for presentations, panel discussions and cooking demos. Panellists shared their thoughts on the future of new product development, while the Mixology School explored the latest drinks trends on the low and no alcohol market. A lecture on how to customise drinks for those consumers seeking alternative drinks included a fascinating insight into the origins of Bloody Mary, other classic cocktails, and a popular invitation to test and taste samples. Unsurprisingly, the demand for participation required questions to be submitted in advance and answered live on stage.
Several KLBD clients exhibited, including Firetree Chocolate, PLAY in CHOC, Quality Kernels (Petrow Food Group), Vanilla Etc and Vanilla Bazaar. As a guaranteed symbol of quality for all KLBD certified exhibitors, the distinctive KLBD logo is highly regarded as a major asset for opening doors in new markets and generating additional sales revenue.
Branded as ‘rich, volcanic chocolate’, Firetree Chocolate showcased a mouthwatering array of chocolate varieties, including the delicious ‘Innovations’ range with exotic flavours to delight every palate. Similarly, KLBD certified PLAYinCHOC displayed a captivating range of chocolate and toys products and showed how they were winners of 34 international awards, as well as voted World Best Plant Chocolate 2022. KLBD certified vanilla products were represented at the show by Vanilla Etc and Vanilla Bazaar. Family run business Vanilla Etc exhibited their award-winning vanilla extracts and vanilla bean paste, with all products exclusively produced from their Yorkshire manufacturing premises with vanilla imported from Madagascar. The Vanilla Bazaar promise to ‘spice up your lattes’ was supported by an exciting range of vanilla infused products, featuring Purity Extracts for cooking and flavouring for coffees, hot chocolates, and ice-cream toppings. In a different category Quality Kernels displayed their processed dried fruit, nuts and nut butters, with a diverse range of products supplied to the UK and overseas.
Vegan products across all specialties were much in evidence on the stands, reflecting the sector’s popularity despite recent media reports that certain vegan products may be over-processed and overpriced. A success story recently featured the vegan protein brand Enough, based in Britain and the Netherlands, which has raised €40 million in growth funding. Enough’s Chief Executive, Jim Laird, commented, ‘There’s a decline in food generally and within the meat alternative market there is undoubtedly a flattening. But the macro trends in this market are unchanged and making a protein ingredient using fungi is inherently more efficient than growing a chicken.’ While other producers of meat-free products may have not fared so well in the fluctuating market, it has been good to see the Meatless Farm (KLBD certified) range of products back on supermarket shelves after the brand was rescued by VFC Foods.
Outside the UK, Israel has been at the forefront of vegan product innovation with the announcement of a ‘first in the world’ chickpea meat. Using wholly natural products and processing, the company aims to revolutionise the options for alternative protein ingredients. Meanwhile in Jerusalem another first took place with the history making ‘Whole Food Plant Based’ conference. The event was exclusively organised for kosher consumers and promised that the information gained would have a positive impact on quality of health for a lifetime.
The Tel Aviv Vegan Festival took place in June and lived up to its reputation as the largest vegan festival in the world, with 50,000 attending the flagship event and embracing the fantastic experience.
Similarly, all those fortunate enough to attend the Speciality Fine Food Fair, described the event as a success and a great opportunity to meet with a cross section of leading food industry experts under one roof.