Anyone who is serious about food and drink cannot afford to miss this month’s Food & Drink Expo in Birmingham. With 800 exhibitors and 3,000m2 more floorspace, the show will be bigger and better than ever

This year’s Food & Drink Expo, held over four days from March 19-22 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, promises to be the UK’s biggest and best showcase for the food and drink industry during 2006.
More than 800 exhibitors will be making the trip to the Midlands, up 100 on the show of two years ago, which is proof of the growing stature of the event as a key date in the calendar for large and small producers alike.
What’s more, according to show organiser William Reed Exhibitions, part of the group that publishes The Grocer, 30% of the exhibitors are new to the show, so previous visitors can be sure that much of what will be on display will be new to them. The show will bring together regional, international and speciality companies and is the place to be for retailers, caterers, manufacturers, buyers, restaurateurs and wholesalers, who will have the opportunity to sample products and listen to presentations on how they can boost their businesses.
Neil Felton, exhibitions director at William Reed, says: “The grocery and convenience retailing industries are constantly evolving. Food & Drink Expo will not only give visitors the opportunity to source new supplies, goods and services, but will also give them an insight into this fast-moving industry and a better understanding of the inherent challenges and opportunities. If you’re serious about food and drink, you should be there.”
With an increased number of exhibitors, Expo will have more space to accommodate many of its new additions. The
show is set to be about 3,000m2 bigger than in 2004, with space dedicated to new attractions such as Bar Talk, where visitors can discover the latest cocktails, and the World Kitchen, where international chefs will demonstrate recipes from around the globe.
An Ingredient Solutions area will provide a showcase for all the latest ingredients that can be incorporated into products.
As always, Expo will offer visitors the chance to sample a variety of products from every conceivable area of the food and drink market - bakery, baby food, canned goods, beers, wines, spirits, ethnic foods, dried foods, snacks, frozen and chilled ready meals and soft drinks.
The show will also have a true international flavour, with more than 30 pavilions from mainland Europe, India and south east Asia. Countries represented include Poland, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Jamaica, Tunisia and the Czech Republic.
Expo will also provide a forum for debate and information through a number of seminars addressing a wide range of topics, from how to manage food safety to how to successfully get a listing.
However, the main source of interest for many will be to develop new contacts and research potential business opportunities.
Adrian Corke, of the Leek Brewing Company, says: “Food & Drink Expo is a very interesting event. We found several new avenues to develop our business and sell more beer after attending the show for the first time in 2004.”
Free (no under-16s)
Following the success of the show restaurant at the 2004 Expo as a place to rest your feet after treading the aisles and build a few business contacts, this year’s show restaurant promises to offer even better facilities.
Located in Hall 17, Expo’s own restaurant will offer a welcome break from the bustle of the busy show and, according to organiser
William Reed Exhibitions, will provide the ideal environment to meet leading industry players. The restaurant is likely to prove to be a popular meeting place for people as it offers a quiet, relaxed atmosphere, conducive to discussing business proposals or just to sit back and leaf through the many catalogues, pamphlets and product information distributed by the exhibitors.
The restaurant will, not surprisingly, also be a good place to eat, with a wide variety of hot and cold snacks and main dishes as well as drinks on offer for the tired and hungry. Open throughout Expo’s four days, the fully equipped kitchen can provide sustenance whatever the requirements.
And for those who like something a little stronger, the restaurant will also serve a selection of wines and beers, making it a suitable destination to round off a successful day.
Owing to the popularity of the restaurant at the last Expo, it is recommended that bookings are made in advance. For reservations, call the booking hotline on 0121 7673663.