As spring arrives and Easter draws near, there ‘s a new optimism in the food and drink world. At last month’s IFE the positivity was almost tangible.

Among the 1,350 exhibitors were California Walnuts, stars of our front cover and an article in our grocery section. After a 20 year absence in the UK the California Walnut Commission has launched a brand new promotional and PR campaign, following a huge surge in walnut consumption here. The programme showcases walnuts’ health, taste and versatility benefits of to both consumer and trade audiences, including retail, food service and food processing.

Whatever else is happening in the world, people still need to eat and food producers are eager to supply consumers in other countries. Another highlight at IFE was the Korean pavilion, featuring a total of 17 Korean food companies with authentic and innovative Korean food products, such as natural freeze-dried fruit snacks, Aloe vera drinks, organic tea, dried seaweed and even an anti-hangover drink! With its emphasis on healthy balance and lower fat and salt content, ‘Korean’ is a rising star in world food and we look forward to reporting more on developments.

Speaking of world foods, in other news in this issue Grace Foods UK, the UK’s leading supplier of Caribbean food and drink, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with its biggest ever NPD drive spearheaded by Encona, the UK’s no.1 hot pepper sauce brand, launching a limited edition Carolina Reaper Chilli Sauce, claimed to be the hottest ever mainstream table sauce. Grace has also pledged funds for GroceryAid, the grocery charity and The Angel Foundation, a UK charity providing equipment for Jamaica’s health care sector.

Spring is a big time for soft drinks too. In the last few weeks AG Barr has announced the arrival of Irn-Bru Xtra, a new version of Irn-Bru that is big on taste and has no sugar, and is launching across the UK. We will have more on soft drinks in our next issue.

Also in this issue you’ll find our Big Night In feature. Soon it’ll be time to head out into the garden, adding an outdoors dimension to Big Nights In. Wherever they live, people don’t need much encouragement to celebrate, but what they do want is the food and drink to do it. The Big Night In is in consumers’ DNA, as are the brands they look to on these occasions. Pladis and Mondelez are two of the biggest suppliers of popular products in this category. Both of these company names are newish to shoppers, but the brands they offer have been around a long time and are bywords to consumers looking for treats for sharing, as are many other products consumers count on for their Big Night In.

Have a good month and a great Easter break when it comes!

Written by Charles Smith, Editor, The Grocery Trader

This commentary first appeared in the April 2017 edition of The Grocery Trader.

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