The largest gathering of specialist regional food and beverage companies ever assembled in the UK will be a major feature of Food and Drink Expo 2004 at the NEC, Birmingham, from March 14 to 17 next year.

Organised by William Reed Exhibitions, a sister company of The Grocer, and sponsored by this magazine, the exhibition will run alongside three other major food and drink industry fairs - Food & Bake, Foodex Meatex and the Convenience Retailing Show - making it the biggest food and drink occasion in Britain next year.

But as multiple and industry groups work with Food from Britain and Business in the Community to promote local sourcing, Expo is being seen as an important and timely event for British regional suppliers.

Specialist English food groups plus the Welsh Development Agency and firms from the Scottish regions, who between them represent over 1,000 companies, will be at a bigger than ever Expo, alongside exhibitors from more than 25 countries.

Andrew Reed, director of exhibitions for the William Reed Group, said: “We are delighted that, at a time when the Prince of Wales and other high profile figures are actively promoting local sourcing, that Food and Drink Expo can play such a significant role. The regional groups are turning out in force, so Expo will provide an important meeting place for sellers and buyers alike.”

Exhibitor bookings for Food and Drink Expo 2004 are still flooding in, but English regional food groups which have already taken exhibits include: Yorkshire, South West, North West, East Midlands, Heart of England and Taste of Anglia.