There’s a growing population of foodies out there in Britain’s grocery outlets, knowledgeable consumers looking for particular food items that they believe they won’t find in the average supermarket. It makes it all the more vital for multiple grocers to win these choosy customers over and help them fight fixture fatigue by offering them something special.

chazThere’s a trade show dedicated to this developing market. It’s been an open secret for a while, but the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, incorporating Speciality Chocolate Fair, is now firmly established on the food trade show map as somewhere for retail buyers to find something a bit different, to help their businesses meet the demands of the foodies.

A few years ago, if you walked around the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, a number of smaller producers would confide that they were wary of dealing with the supermarkets. Having had a bad experience with the multiples, these producers preferred to sell to department store food halls, farmers markets and delis. Time has passed, and talking to them this time round the sentiment was much more positive.

This new confidence was visible in this year’s show, in its scale and scope, with a record breaking number of fine food and artisan producers taking part, many of them in the growing health and nutrition and free from sectors. As well as the buzz in the aisles, the Twittersphere was buzzing with excitement. According to the organisers the Fair was trending, and clinched the top spot twice during its three-day run.

Speciality & Fine Food Fair remains the launch pad for many new and innovative young food and drink brands. This year they included six new businesses who won a place on The Grocery Accelerator business mentoring programme, taking part in two days of Dragons’ Den-style pitches. The winners also each secured a £60,000 investment, to boost and grow their business.  There was also a Small Business Forum, for industry experts to provide guidance to the entrepreneurial and business-owner audience, and a Business Mentoring Centre for free business advice to visitors.

The message for the supermarkets, Co-ops and convenience store chains is clear: the speciality and fine food sector has a newfound confidence and is open for business. Fine food is there for everyone with a palate. Don’t stick with the same old selection – offer your customers something special.

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