Over the past few years, speciality food has become increasingly popular as consumers continue to seek out interesting, innovative products. Speciality & Fine Food Fair is at the heart of this gourmet renaissance as it gives key decision makers from the likes of the ‘Big Four’, foodhalls, markets and delis the chance to find the next big thing in artisan food and drink that will get people talking.

This September, Speciality & Fine Food Fair will open its doors once again to give buyers from the world of speciality food the chance to see what local, regional and international suppliers have to offer in terms of new artisan products. Set to be bigger than ever before, the exhibition will bring together more than 600 of the most exciting names in speciality food and drink, making it the place to source products on a scale not possible anywhere else in the UK.

An opportunity for small and medium businesses

By nature, artisan, regional and speciality food companies tend to be quite small. From the customer’s perspective, this is often seen as a benefit as they appreciate the personal thought and attention that goes into the business and its products. However, when it comes to the owner, it can mean less resource and expertise to help with expansion plans.

To help small or medium sized businesses and restaurants get ahead of the competition, the Speciality & Fine Food Fair Small Business Forum provides case studies, solutions and practical advice on a wide range of topics from a series of experts, such as how to tackle tricky business issues, key trends in food and drink, technicalities behind manufacture and processing, creating a striking window and store display, and understanding how to make social media both beneficial and successful.

The seminars are free-of-charge and run on a first-come-first-served basis. This year, the Forum will play host to a hand picked selection of speakers, from food industry expert Jane Milton and MD of Cotswold Fayre Ltd Paul Hargreaves to Lisa Hewish, Food Techonolgist at Rogue Foodies Ltd.

For visitors looking for one-to-one advice, there is also the opportunity to book a session with these industry experts in the Business Mentoring Centre. The free-of-charge 30 minute sessions provide an opportunity to tackle business issues, whether they’re to do with marketing, finance, HR, online, social media, supplier relationships or logistics.

Products to feast your eyes (and stomach) on

As well as the jam packed programme of events, Speciality & Fine Food Fair is also an opportunity to discover, try and buy new and exciting products from over 600 exhibitors.

Making their first appearance at the show are Chocanana [stand 026], Good Heavens! [stand 638], Pepper & Stew Ltd [stand 036] and Empire Foodbrokers [stand 610].

Positioned as a healthy alternative to ice-cream, the range of chocolate covered frozen bananas by Choconana are hard to beat.  Each product is hand-dipped in Belgium chocolate, whether it’s dark, milk or white, before being topped with a choice of toppings, from salted peanuts to sugar sprinkles. Sticking to the sweet theme, Good Heavens! is a drinking yoghurt company with a difference. Always taking time to make products carefully, slowly and in small batches, each bottle and pot is filled with the finest, natural ingredients and contains over 25% of an adult’s calcium RDA.

From sweet to savoury, Pepper & Stew Ltd has responded to the current trend for African cuisine by giving consumers a convenient way to make authentic dishes at home. The range includes Jollof Rice, Egusi Stew, Palm Nut Stew and African Fish sauces, with all products gluten, dairy and MSG free to ensure there is something for everyone.

Empire Foodbrokers is one of the UK’s most respected distibutors of quality foods from America, Asia and Europe. Responsible for bringing the likes of Marshmallow Fluff, Mrs Elswood Pickles, No-No Flatbreads and Wonka Candy to our shores, Empire Foodbrokers is looking forward to unveiling some exciting new ranges at the show.

Returning to Speciality & Fine Food Fair this year is Villanova Food Ltd [stand 1030], which imports quality Italian foods such as award-winning Parmesans and products from its artisan charcuterie range, as well as Joe & Steph’s Gourmet Popcorn [stand 445], who will be showcasing their irresitable range of exciting flavours, including Strawberry Cheesecake, Green Pea & Wasabi and French Goat’s Cheese with Malabar Black Pepper.

In addition to this, the organisers of Speciality & Fine Food Fair are pleased to welcome back The Bay Tree Food Company [stand 875] with its range of relishes, chutneys, pickles and jellys, as well as authentic Greek food importers Odysea Ltd [stand 917], who will no doubt display a magnificent array of olive oils, cheese, meze and olives.

Also likely to excite with new product displays is exquisite green tea company Choi Time [stand 1156], who have delighted visitors in the past with their award winning hand rolled Jasmine Green Tea Pearls and Damask Rose Tea Buds, as well as  Bon Bons Ltd [stand 876] with its traditional sweets, handcrafted chocolates and speciality liquorice.

Chocolate galore

Running alongside the main exhibition is the Speciality Chocolate Fair – the UK’s only trade event dedicated to fine and artisan chocolate, taking place in the Grand Hall. Providing a platform to showcase luxury and gourmet chocolate to over 5,700 visitors from delis, independent retailers, restaurants, hotels, caterers, wholesalers and distributers, the Fair attracts top buyers from the likes of Fortnum & Mason, The Fat Duck, Selfridges and Harrods.

First-time exhibitors in 2012 include popular Fairtrade chocolate brand Divine [stand 474], Welsh chocolatiers Cocoa Magic [stand 181] and, from across the channel, Belgique company Noble Chocolates [stand 272], who all mix excellence and passion to produce some of the best chocolates in the world.

Not forgetting the familiar faces, online sweet shop Hope & Greenwood [stand 580] will make a return with an exciting new range of products, along with the award winning Rococo Chocolates [stand 375] and Willie’s Cacao [stand 373], who will give visitors a taste of the exotic with chocolate from Venezuala to Madagasca.

New to the programme this year is the UK Chocolate Masters Finals – an initiative by Barry Callebaut and Carma®. In a bid to be crowned National Chocolate Master, chocolate artisans and pastry chefs will descend on the fair to showcase their creations. The winner will then go on to compete in the World Chocolate Masters in Paris, which has a reputation as the most challenging chocolate contest in the world.

Awarding success

Speciality & Fine Food Fair also brings together the finalists of The Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards and Olives et Al’s Deli of the Year.

The Great Taste Awards are seen as the benchmark for fine food in the UK. With over 6,000 entries from around 1,300 companies, each product is blind-tasted by 300 experts at various locations around the country, before being whittled down into smaller groups to be judged a second and third time. With all finalists on display at Speciality & Fine Food Fair, the products will be awarded one, two or three gold stars on the second day of the exhibition.

From over 300 nominations, Olives Et Al has just announced the regional finalists of the annual Deli of the Year, having received more than 12,000 nominations. Judged first by a panel of independent food and retail experts, the 10 finalists will be visited by a team of two judges, who will announce their decision on the 3rd September at Speciality & Fine Food Fair.

Commenting on Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2012, Event Manager Soraya Gadelrab said: “To ensure Speciality & Fine Food Fair continues to grow, we always try and build on the success of the year before, which is why we have added more features to the programme and invited fresh and inspiring speakers to demonstrate.

From the Fine Food and Small Business Forums to the fantastic range of exhibitors and UK Chocolate Masters Finals, we believe there is something for everyone at this year’s Speciality Fine Food Fair, which really has become a not-to-miss event for those in the industry.”

Speciality & Fine Food Fair will open at Olympia on Sunday 2nd September, running until Tuesday 4th. You can register for your free visitor badge and learn more about the Fair at http://www.specialityandfinefoodfairs.co.uk/.

For news and updates, follow us on Twitter (@Speciality_Food), like us on Facebook (http://www.specialityandfinefoodfairs.co.uk/facebook) and join our discussions on Linkedin (http://www.specialityandfinefoodfairs.co.uk/linkedin).

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