London seeks place on global produce event calendar
The English capital will play host to a new annual event on June 4-6 with the launch of The London Produce Show and Conference, organized by the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) and Produce Business magazine.
The "boutique" event will have a limited amount of exhibition stands available with the aim of allowing participants to take in the entire show floor, connecting the country's wholesalers, importers and retailers with produce sellers from around the globe.
Kicking off with a cocktail reception, the opening evening will be followed by an exhibition day filled with seminars, breakout sessions and chef demonstrations, while on the final day the organizers will host tours of wholesale markets, retail stores, production sites and import hubs.
FPC chief executive Nigel Jenney told www.freshfruitportal.com the country's retailers and importers were keen to discover new and innovative products from at home and abroad, but it was important for foreign shippers to make local contact to understand whether their products under development were the right fit for U.K. consumers.
"A range from high value product lines to more modest products have brought not only a range of benefits to growers but greater choice to consumers in the U.K.," Jenney said.
"There is a relatively vaster range of products from a much larger range of suppliers in the U.K. than in other parts of Europe.
"Our recent surveys have shown that in different wholesale markets, convenience stores, supermarkets and other retailers, there are 450 different types of produce sold – that's not just varieties, but different products."
He added the event would help bring a greater understanding of the market to produce exporters.
"A lot of exporters will likely already have strong relationships with retail chains in the U.K. but the importance of wholesale and foodservice shouldn’t be underestimated, representing about 35% of all sales," he said.
His comments were echoed by Tommy Leighton, who is the event's contact for booth sales, sponsorship and registrations in the U.K., Europe, Asia and Africa.
"Wer'e going to be working very hard to get as much of the foodservice and wholesale angle into the show as we possibly can – there are three big wholesale markets in London alone, and the foodservice business is absolutely massive," Leighton told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"In the U.K. you’ve got a changing retail dynamic with fewer suppliers to the big retailers, so there are a lot of suppliers looking for new outlets.
"The discounters are having a very good time in the U.K. at the moment, people are looking at wholesale markets in a new light and the foodservice industry is growing almost every single year."
Food waste has also become a top priority for U.K. retailers with shelf life preservation a top priority. By visiting the event, exporters will get to see how this is affecting market practices through packaging and other means.
Another project that has the potential to reduce food waste is the opening of DP World's London Gateway in Essex, which is expected to reduce transportation times for sea freight-shipped perishables to hit store shelves.
"From an industry point of view we see this as a great opportunity to further maximize customer satisfaction and minimize the time from port to port to consumer."
Jenney said the event, to be held at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, would put the U.K. and Europe "back in the limelight" as key destinations for high quality fruits and vegetables.
"The UK fruit, vegetable and flower market has long been perceived as a dynamic thought and practice leader for the fresh produce industry. This event will highlight everything that is still great about the British produce industry, but it is also a brand new trade exhibition, conference, networking event and showcase for the global industry as a whole," Jenney said in a release.
"There are other exhibitions in Europe, but we feel that the opportunity to be 'noticed,' both as an exhibitor and a visitor, is crucial if companies and associations are to get true value for money. We want to help producers and marketers get their messages out to a wider audience and bring them together with the people who matter most to them – their existing and potential customers.
"At the same time we want to give the buying segment of the trade a convenient venue, right in central London, where buyers can engage with the global supply base."
Wm Morrison Supermarkets category director for produce and horticulture, Andrew Garton, said any event that attracted the world's fresh produce industry to the U.K. was good news for the domestic industry.
"In my opinion, the UK supermarket sector has led the world in food retail innovation during the past two decades and we’re keen to take advantage of this opportunity to reaffirm our credentials with the industry’s leading suppliers."
Produce Business founder Jim Prevor told www.freshfruitportal.com the U.K. was in a similar position to what the U.S. northeast was before the New York Produce Show and Conference, which he also organizes and is coming up on Dec. 10-12.
"The U.K. of course has been a leader in standard setting for the produce industry and a thought leadership position, but it’s a market we feel the global produce industry hasn’t paid enough attention to as is due," he said.
"We're going to begin initially with a trade show floor with 150 booths on it, and one of the things about this format is we don’t allow people to buy big booths; they can only buy one. That's to keep the focus on networking and the products, and not have people spend millions on grand display booths.
"We're expecting well over 1000 people I’m sure who will attend. We hope and expect it will grow in the same way the New York event has."