Blog: Dean BestWhy fine food feels trade fairs remain vital

Dean Best | 4 September 2009

Over the weekend, some of the UK's leading SME food businesses will flock to London for a trade show aimed squarely at the country's speciality food sector.

The Speciality & Fine Food Fair at London's Olympia is an event that looks to bring together exhibitors and visitors working for delis, farm shops and independent retailers, as well as in the horeca sector.

just-food will be among the visitors and looking to see how the country's artisanal food producers are battling the downturn. One could question the wisdom of spending time and money on exhibiting at trade events in a recession but, to some attendees, shows like this remain important.

"It is vital that we are seen to be active in the retail market, especially at this time of economic uncertainty," Kate Willis of West Country organic food maker Sharpham Park says. "We are such a small, niche company, and approaching the right retailers is a costly exercise. Being at the fair ensures that we can reach our target retail market at a fraction of the cost."

And the attendees are not just travelling up the M4 to London. Some, including French "fine food" maker DV France, are coming from further afield. "This is a great opportunity for us to present our new range of fine food specialties like gastronomic sauces, braised vegetables and vegetable creamy soups," insists DV France's Murielle Jarry.

DV France will be attending Anuga next month but said the attraction of the Speciality & Fine Food Fair was its focus on the UK market. "The exhibitions are the most efficient way to meet potential customers, have the products tasted, which is very important for food products. The fine food market is still growing in Europe and we have to continue our efforts in spite of the economic stagnation."

Among the attractions at the show will be a conference on Monday unveiling the launch of the Source Trust, an organisation aiming to promote traceability in the global chocolate supply chain.

With the likes of Cadbury and Mars keen to promote their CSR credentials through recent tie-ups with the Fairtrade Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance, the conference at Olympia comes at a time when ethical issues are high on the chocolate sector's agenda.

Small in scale the exhibitors may be but the show promises some big ideas.


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