If the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, held at London’s Olympia earlier this month, is seen as a gauge of the sector’s health, then the industry should be confident that it is in fine form.
The three-day show attracted 5,500 visitors, up 8% on 2004, according to Kieron Haycock, marketing manager at show organiser Fresh RM, with visitor numbers up 17% on the first day alone.
In reflection of the growing importance of Spain in the UK speciality and fine foods market, Spanish producers dominated the overseas contingent. But there was also a large number of companies from Australia and America.
Nonetheless, English businesses occupied the largest space, including the eight English regional groups, followed by
Scotland, Wales then Ireland. There was also a record number of first-time exhibitors and companies using the show to launch products.
Haycock says: “The range of food and drink now exhibited at the show reflects the fact we are seeing a much more diverse range of foods available.
“Not only speciality olive oils, cheeses and hams, but fine chocolates, chutneys, tracklements and more health-related foods, to name but a few.”
Haycock adds: “There are more delis than ever before, restaurant menus are detailing the source of the ingredients in their dishes, consumers are looking to support local producers and smaller stores and farmers’ markets are growing in number and popularity.
“Even the major multiple retailers are increasingly looking at sourcing locally and stocking their shelves with gourmet speciality ranges.
“The fair aims to capture the spirit of that, giving some of the smallest food and drink producers the platform to take their products to market.”
The winner of The Great Taste Awards - described as the Oscars of the food industry - was also announced. Sticky Toffee Pudding, made by Burtree House Farm in Northumbria, received the supreme champion award from the Guild of Fine Food Retailers, presented by celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.