With 50 countries turning out for IFE 09, buyers with a taste for global cuisine trends and exotic tastes will be well catered for

The Walk the World village at IFE 09 will provide a window on the world of food and drink for UK buyers ready to embrace global cuisine trends and exotic tastes whether it's Slovakian flour, Japanese umami or Lithuanian spirits.

With food and drink on display from 50 countries, the international section of the show hosts 25 pavilions arranged in geographical order: Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Italian will once again make up the biggest slice of the European products on offer, and the French pavilion will be bigger than ever, hosting 37 individual exhibitors.

Another big presence will be Poland. Although the influx of Polish workers to the UK may have dwindled of late, a sizeable market remains. The emphasis this year will be on healthy Polish food - an initiative aimed at maintaining its reputation as one of the fastest-growing cuisines in supermarkets.

But it will have competition from its neighbouring central and eastern European countries, some of which are attending for the first time. And it's these newcomers that are exciting the show organisers. IFE international sales manager Gayle Parker, says: "We've got new pavilions with Slovakian, Bulgarian and Serbian food and drink. Many will be perfect for the UK market."

But Parker believes Romanian food - which consists of tinned goods, frozen baked products and biscuits - will attract the most interest and that it would be ideal for discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.

Even if you're pushed for time, it's well worth making some time to attend a free seminar at IFE09 for information and advice on trends, forecasts and issues affecting the industry. Below are some of our highlights:

Sunday 15 March, 12.00 — 12:45
How to beat the recession: a practical guide for independent restaurants, pubs, cafés and foodservice businesses
Jill Willis - owner, Taste

15.00 — 15:45
Put your money where your mouth is - just how much are people willing to spend on good food?
Sharon Greene - MD, RISC International

Monday 16 March,
13:00 — 13:45
Funding in difficult times
Roger Brown and Russell Harker - area directors, Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance

16:00 — 16:45
Eating beauty
David Jago - trends and innovation director, Mintel

12:00 — 12:45

The recession and NPD
Jonathan Banks - business insight director, Nielsen

Tuesday 17 March, 14:00 — 14:45
Trends in times of recession
Carla Ogeia - trends and innovation consultant, Mintel

15:00 — 15:45

The future of organic & ethical buying
Kevin Hawkins OBE - consultant, Clive Beddall OBE, former editor, The Grocer, Jim Twine - commercial director, Soil Association, Terry Jones - head of food & farming, NFU

Wednesday 18 March, 11:00 — 11:45
How to minimise the impact of rising costs and maintain brand standards during the 'credit crunch'
Geoff Nicholson - head of marketing, iTrade Network