This is a crucial point of difference, stresses project manager Saskia Soete De Boosere: "We concentrate on the highest quality food products. These are not the norm. "Tavola is used as a launchpad for new products, and buyers know when they come that what is on offer will be the best." And this year UK buyers are a key target.The exhibition is an easy run of only one hour from the Calais side of the Channel Tunnel, and a special package is being offered to woo buyers across the water. It includes VIP access to the show, seminars, and a gastronomic evening. De Boosere says: "Every two years we target a country. In the past we've focused on France and Holland, and now it is the UK's turn." Now in its tenth year, the fair kicks off on March 19 in Kortrijk, Belgium. At least 20,000 visitors are expected to attend the three day showcase of delicatessen and fine foods, a hotspot for spotlighting the latest products and trends. About 350 companies from the Benelux, France and Germany will be exhibiting alongside Food from Britain and UK companies (see box) as well as the marketing organisations of France (Sopexa) and Germany (CMA). In addition there will be collective stands for the French region of Belgium representing many family businesses that produce food by old, traditional methods. The show encompasses three product groups spread across six halls. These are: l Chilled fresh foods: ready meals, salads, sauces; dairy; fine meat products, game and poultry; fish and seafood; prepared fruit and vegetables. l Dry foods, specialities, drinks and beverages: biscuits and confectionery; dried fruit and nuts; pasta; oils and vinegars; sauces, herbs and spices; alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks; coffee and tea. l Frozen food: bread and cakes; dairy ice cream and desserts; fruit and vegetables; prepared dishes; fish and seafood. Among many products making their debut is a range of ready fried sausages in five flavours from Belgian company Jova, which simply need warming up; an organic fromage frais for children from Pur Natur of the Netherlands (pictured left); and a Norman cider, Le Bio, made from a base of organic apple juice by Cidrerie de la Brique. Belgium is keen to shake off the shadow of last year's dioxin scare, and Tavola will be used by its industry as a platform to show that all safety and quality procedures have been astringently overhauled and even improved. "A lot of our exhibitors worked even harder during that crisis," says De Boosere. The seminars will include one giving an overview of the distribution system in Belgium by the chief editor of leading magazine Storecheck, another on retailing in Belgium, and also one about trends in food and lifestyles given by a Paris trendsetter. The highlight of the fair is the Golden Tavola award. This is awarded to the most outstanding new product in the exhibition. The product must have been launched after June 1 1999, and may even be one only just unveiled at this year's show. Nominations have to go through a strict vetting procedure. A preliminary jury decides which can go on to a final jury that includes three chief editors of magazines in Belgium, top chefs from Belgian restaurants, retail buyers, and people involved in new product development. The winner is announced at the Belgian gastronomy evening on Monday March 20. Last year Pluma, a well established company in Belgium and Holland, won with a range of organic meat products. n {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}