The visits, in conjunction with UK Trade and Investment, will involve buyers from 10 countries as diverse as the US, Japan, Australia and Poland. On top of informal visits to individual stands, FFB has organised key opportunities for UK exporters to meet directly with the most relevant buyers for their individual companies.
The first of these is an official dinner taking place on March 13, which will include a networking drinks reception.
The following day FFB is hosting a Meet the Buyer event where exporters can book 20 minutes with a preferred buyer.
Sandra Sullivan, head of events and exhibitions for FFB, says that this will be like a speed dating event for exporters. She adds that a great deal of effort has gone into identifying companies with the necessary structure in place to deliver what the buyers are looking for, as well as identifying the most suitable buyers.
“All the buyers, particularly those from the United States, are looking for good speciality food and drink producers.
“We have had lots of experience in matching the right companies to the right buyers and this year we are keen to introduce plenty of new companies to some key buyers.
“We want to show them the full range of excellent products the UK has to offer,” she explains.
More than 150 exhibitors are expected to take part in the Speciality & Regional Food from Britain sector of this year’s event.
Some 40 of these companies will be exhibiting independently, with the rest coming to the show under the banners of the regional food groups. Among the independent companies that are attending is RH Amar, which is planning to kick off its 60th anniversary celebrations at IFE05.
Chief executive David Mellor says that IFE has been an important event in terms of the company’s development in the last 25 years.
“RH Amar has been involved with every show since 1980 and it has always been a crucial showplace that has proved very worthwhile for us over the years. This year we are hoping to bring exciting and innovative products to a new audience.”
These products will include the new toys-for-the-boys range of spray gun marinades for the barbecue from Ukuva iAfrica. There will also be products from some of the producers it has signed up during the last 12 months, including Tiptree and Wilkin & Sons, Glanbia, Baxters and Mary Berry.
Mellor says that IFE had been especially important for bringing RH Amar’s brands to the attention of new customers and helping them build its distribution network.
“Around the time of the last exhibition, we were just setting up our speciality food division.
“IFE and other events have helped us build up the number of farm shops and delicatessens that we supply from zero to 850 in just 18 months.”
Eight English regional food and drink groups will be exhibiting as well as representations from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, which each have their own national pavilions.
The Welsh Development Agency will be hosting more than 20 companies through its True Taste stands. Dairy produce will be playing a major role in the Welsh pavilion with exhibitors including Sub Zero Ice Cream and Snowdonia Cheese Company.
Producer group Cheeses from Wales will have a stand on which it will be showcasing a new range of products that will be listed in all Waitrose stores in the UK.
Less traditional producers will also be represented such as Decantae Natural Mineral Water, which will be launching its new sports cap bottles, while Abergavenny Fine Foods will showcase the recently launched Entree brand of snack foods.
These will be joined by 29 producers under the Scottish Food and Drink banner.
Meanwhile, Invest Northern Ireland is hoping to attract greater exposure for the 13 companies that it is bringing to the show.
One of the biggest regional representations will come from Yorkshire with 22 companies exhibiting under the Deliciouslyorkshire brand.
Yorskshire regional food group executive director Karen Carlyle says that IFE gives regional producer excellent access to customers both here and abroad.
“The trade event is an important national show where producers and suppliers of regional produce can meet national and international buyers, retailers, distributors, restaurateurs and caterers,” she says. “We aim to make contacts, develop sales leads and win new business for our region’s food producers.
“The show is the perfect opportunity to raise the profile of the fantastic local and regional food available in the county.”
Those who think of Yorkshire in terms of traditional producers may well be surprised by the variety of producers and products on display. While Wensleydale Dairy Products may seem as traditional as they come, its new Wensleydale with mango and papaya may surprise some buyers. Using traditional Yorkshire produce in a new way is also at the heart of Ripon-based Bare Earth’s strategy. It has combined a South African biltong recipe with prime Yorkshire beef for an exotic snacking range.
All other English regions will be covered with the South West Food and Drink regional group bringing along 26 companies, while Heart of England Fine Foods is introducing a delegation of 18 producers.
There will also be smaller delegations from North West Fine Foods, East Midlands Fine Foods, Taste of Anglia, Northumbria Larder and the South East Food Group.