The UK grocery industry is booming. The last ten years have witnessed steady growth in the sector, with market value rising from £96.6 billion in 1999 to a staggering £146.3 billion last year. Indeed, food and drink expenditure now accounts for 52p in every £1 of retail spending.

And it’s not difficult to work out how this increase has come about. There are currently almost 100,000 grocery stores in the UK alone, comprising convenience outlets, traditional retail areas, hypermarkets, supermarkets and superstores as well as online channels, all offering consumers the chance to snap up the latest food and drink products to hit the shelves. With consumer confidence growing again, the recessionary pressures of 2009 are beginning to seem like a distant memory.

However, that’s not to say retailers can sit back and simply wait for customers to come through the doors and spend, spend, spend. Despite a more positive economic outlook, British shoppers are as mindful as ever about where they are spending their money. They want to be inspired by their food and drink and are constantly on the look out for new products and ideas to expand their culinary repertoire.

Retailers need to ensure that they have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to the latest launches and newest products to market. The outlet with the best selection of new products, that anticipate consumers ever-changing tastes, will ultimately win out. An easy task, some might think, given the number of companies constantly bringing out new brands. However, with the constant time and financial pressures that retail buyers are under these days, there simply isn’t the opportunity for them to go out hunting for the very latest products to come onto the market.

Which is why IFE provides the perfect opportunity for buyers to see all the key players, as well as small local producers just starting out, all in one place and at one time. The 2011 instalment of the industry-leading event will be a veritable melting pot of products, ideas and inspiration for buyers all looking to add that crucial point of difference to their store aisles. Over 1,100 organisations will be on show, all keen for their products to begin their journeys to retailers’ shelves when the show kicks off on 13-16 March 2011 at London’s ExCeL centre.

IFE is the country’s premier food and drink sourcing event and is expected to be the talk of the industry when it opens its doors to the trade. Thousands upon thousands of never-been-seen-before products will be launched into the UK arena, all vying for the attention of an audience expected to top 20,000.

But if you’ve been to IFE in the past and believe you’ve seen it all before, think again. This year’s event is returning with a renewed and revitalised outlook.

IFE11 will play host to its best ‘educational’ programme to-date this year, with a host of brand new features set to equip visitors with all the inspiration, knowledge and industry insights they require to help set their business apart from the competition in the tough retail world.

What’s new at IFE?

A brand new feature of this year’s show is New Products Live, which will comprise three areas, where visitors can discover the latest innovations from suppliers. A new product display area will showcase a range of specially selected products from 12 categories, including bakery and confectionery, cheese and dairy, organic and seafood. During the exhibition, the annual Fresh Ideas award will be presented to the exhibitors with the best innovations. Judged independently, the winners will have their products showcased in New Products Live. Finally, professionals can visit the free-to-attend Future Trends seminars, run by Mintel. The sessions, presented by leading figures in the food and drink industry, will offer valuable insights into new product trends and the changing tastes of consumers. Visitors that attend the seminars will also be able to taste some of the latest products for themselves.

Designed to add colour and vibrancy to the international Walk the World section, the brand new Meet the World feature brings together different international groups and provides them with a collective platform to showcase the best food and drink their country has to offer. There will be plenty of captivating visual performances from each nation.

IFE11’s England Pavilion will showcase products from all four corners of the country with regional food groups including Select Lincolnshire, Heart of England Fine Foods and Deliciously Yorkshire presenting their unique products from different areas of England. Leading regional producers including Luscombe Drinks, Hawkshead Relish, Paxton & Whitfield, Seasoned Pioneers and Styles Farmhouse Ice-cream will join other specialist producers to present their latest offerings to buyers. Within the pavilion, visitors will also be able to attend the English Regional Kitchen – a demonstration kitchen featuring demonstrations from leading regional chefs.

Demand for high-quality oils is riding high in the retail industry, so a new must-visit at IFE will be The World of Olive Oil. Visitors will be given the opportunity to sample some of the finest varieties currently on offer from leading producers around the globe.

For visitors keen to catch-up on the very latest consumer and industry trends, The Hub will be the place to be. A free-to-attend programme of seminars, conducted by leading industry experts, will take place on the first two days of the event, offering delegates a unique opportunity to update their knowledge and take away key learnings that can be applied to their own business.

Once again, IFE will play host to a unique and high profile Key Buyer Initiative throughout the show. Senior buyers from the UK’s leading retailers have already confirmed their participation with representatives from the likes of Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda set to hear pitches from exhibitors on their latest products to be launched.

IFE will also be joined by sister show, Pro2Pac, which focuses on the packaging and processing side of the food and drink industry, by showcasing some of the latest innovations to streamline manufacturing operations.

IFE Team

Tel: 020 7886 3092

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