Food and Drink Expo, the biennial show acquired last year by William Reed Exhibitions, part of the group which publishes The Grocer, will be relaunched next year as the UK's biggest ever food-led international event. Held at the NEC Birmingham, from March 17 to 20, 2002, it will be staged alongside three other major food and drink industry fairs: the Convenience Retailing Show ­ the only independent event in the UK for the whole convenience sector; Foodex Meatex, Britain's largest exhibition of equipment and services for processors and manufacturers; and Food & Bake, the flagship event of the bakery industry. The organisers of all four events are combining forces to form foodtradeshows@nec2002, with a major PR and marketing campaign designed to increase visitor attendance from outside the UK. Speaking at the official launch in London this week, Jerry Gosney, chief operating officer of William Reed, said: "We acquired the fair with the strategic objective to be the communications hub for the food and drink sector and we are very excited about building it into one of the world's great food and drink shows." Gosney said William Reed would use the editorial power of The Grocer to highlight the event around the world. "We intend to simplify and clarify the format and are investing heavily in show features and visitor promotion." One of the central features will be the Ideas to Dine For! section which will incorporate an interactive presentation of the best products and ideas. This will also be linked to the Ideas to Dine For! awards, presented annually. The show will also incorporporate a stylish Tastes of the Future' restaurant featuring innovative products. Food and Drink Expo 2002 will target retail, foodservice, fresh produce, ingredients, organics, and ethnic specialities and feature a strong line-up of international pavilions. William Reed exhibitions director David O'Beirne said more than 100 companies had already confirmed their space, well ahead of the number at the same time for the last show. A dedicated team was recruiting exhibitors from around the globe and international interest was growing significantly. At the 2000 show over 2,000 visitors from 56 countries attended. William Reed will be utilising its central database to contact over one milllion food industry executives. The editor of The Grocer, Clive Beddall, said: "It's been my dream to see The Grocer name over a major international show in Britain. Food and Drink Expo 2002 is well-timed. It has the potential to become one of the world's best fairs." {{NEWS }}