Gama spoke to Federico Dellafiore, event manager, ahead of the latest edition of IFE, International Food & Drink Event.
We’re so excited for the industry to experience IFE 2024. Alongside popular returning features such as the New Products Tasting Theatre and the Start-Up Market, which buyers can taste and discover completely new products, we’ve also got loads of exciting new features, sections and partnerships.
To expand the show’s offering even further, we’ve partnered with the Fresh Produce Consortium to launch our new Fresh Produce Section and will be hosting Aramark’s Producer & New Supplier Showcase to allow brands taking part in the show to pitch their products to a panel of senior hospitality and foodservice buyers.
Next year will also see even closer collaboration with our sister events IFE Manufacturing, HRC, Hotel, Restaurant & Catering and The Pub Show, giving visitors access to everything from packaging and ingredients to professional kitchen equipment and innovative hospitality tech.
What is the outlook for the UK food & drink sector in 2024? In particular, do you foresee any easing of current pressures, for instance around supply chains or the cost of energy and raw materials?
Without the use of a crystal ball, it’s hard to say for certain but the food & drink sector is incredibly adaptable and as these challenges continue brands are finding more and more inventive ways to mitigate supply chain issues and high energy costs.
We’ve certainly seen an incredibly high level of demand to take part in IFE this year from brands of all sizes, which indicates businesses are looking ahead positively to future growth, innovation and investment.
What are consumers currently looking for from food & drink brands, and how do you expect this to evolve in 2024?
We expect consumers to continue seeking out natural ingredients and brands they perceive as authentic, and this doesn’t necessarily exclude bigger or more mainstream names in food & drink. This comes hand-in-hand with growing consumer wariness of ultra-processed foods and a desire for clear labelling and recognisable ingredients.
Transparency when it comes to how things are made is more important than ever, and IFE presents a great opportunity for suppliers to convey this sense of clarity as they meet face-to-face with buyers and build trust.
We’ve also been seeing a rise in functional drinks with a few different consumer groups in mind, from high-end nootropic coffees to more youth-focused health and energy drinks (perhaps following on from the phenomenon of Prime), many of which you can check out in Drinks @ HRC & IFE.
Taking place on 25th-27th March 2024, IFE, International Food and Drink Event is the UK’s largest and most successful product sourcing platform for buyers from across the retail, foodservice, hospitality, wholesale, distribution, import and export sectors.