This April, thousands of delegates descended on the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, as stakeholders from across the hospitality, manufacturing, grocery and speciality & convenience retail sectors once again gathered together for the 2023 edition of the Food & Drink Expo.
Altogether, over 1,500 suppliers took to the show floor to showcase their latest product offerings. As ever, the flagship exhibition was co-located with the Farm Shop & Deli Show, Foodex Manufacturing Solutions and the National Convenience Show, representing the full diversity of the UK grocery manufacturing, retail and foodservice sectors.
2023 also featured a Healthy & Natural and Plant-Based zone, positioned as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for health, wellness and natural products including free-from, plant-based, vegetarian, low-calorie, organic and vegan items.
Away from the exhibition stands, awards were a significant feature of this year’s show, with winners crowned in categories ranging from the Farm Shop & Deli Product and Retailer Awards to “Britain’s Best Loaf”, Best Newcomer and Retailer Of The Year.
Meanwhile, panel debates broached a number of hot button topics, with the future of the plant-based foods sector (and, conversely, that of the meat industry) the principal focus of attention.
Elsewhere, another standout feature was The Dragon’s Pantry, where entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to increase their chance of a retailer listing through a 15-minute pitch.
Innovation across the showfloor proved diverse, but with a particular focus on upscale ingredients and adventurous flavour combinations melding sweet, savoury, and spicy notes. Meanwhile, energy drinks were making their presence felt, while the prevalence of e-cigarette brands in the National Convenience Show demonstrating the extent to which alternatives to traditional tobacco are becoming increasingly relevant for the sector, as consumers switch away from cigarettes.
Food & Drink Expo returns to the NEC next year, with the event opening its doors on 29th April.