Page 39 - MarketTimesAugust2016
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  Market Times • August 2016
REPORT
London show brings whole fresh produce industry under one roof
THE third annual London Produce Show and Conference (LPS) attracted an international audience of 1,600 people to the Grosvenor House in Mayfair, London, and opened a window on the world of fresh produce and flowers for buyers across the retail, wholesale and foodservice spectrum.
The three-day event, which has as its centrepiece a boutique one-day trade exhibition, also features several networking and educational events, including a foodservice forum, cocktail reception, seminars and workshops, a chef demonstration kitchen and a student programme, as well as running several tours to fresh produce locations in the South East on its final day.
The model was adapted from the well-established annual New York Produce Show and Conference when organisers from Produce Business magazine and the Fresh Produce Consortium recognised a gap in the UK market for an event that shone its light on the wider industry, rather than focusing on the dominant supermarket chains.
Its location in the heart of the city was chosen to reflect the transformation of London’s foodservice scene into a focal point for the culinary world, the continued strength of the wholesale market community, and wholesale and catering suppliers in general, in London and also the diverse nature of the retail market customer network in the UK — which is not immediately evident to overseas suppliers.
“We had been hearing suppliers around the world tell us that the UK had become unattractive to serve, largely because of the increasingly high standards and reducing price base in a supermarket sector that once led the world in global sourcing,” said Tommy Leighton, managing director of LPS and Phoenix Media Ltd, which publishes the online publication for fresh produce buyers, www.producebusinessuk.com.
“This is still a huge consumer market that is renowned for its quality and food safety standards, but international and domestic suppliers were encouraged to switch their attention away from wholesale markets 20 years ago and many of
them are unsure where to look or unaware that such a depth of opportunity still exists in supplying the UK.”
The show may be in London, but it is by no means aimed solely at the London marketplace. Demonstration chefs came from Bristol, Bournemouth and the Netherlands, there were speakers on seminar stages and panels from as far afield as New Zealand, India, South Africa and South Korea, and exhibitors from every continent bar Antarctica. The key point of difference of the show, said Leighton, is its aim of putting as many buyers of produce and flowers in front of the deliberately limited exhibitor ranks as possible.
“Unlike most of the shows the industry has to choose from around the world, we do not try to cram the room full of as many people as possible,” he explained.
“Every exhibitor has the same sized stand and the same opportunity to make themselves known to the buyers in the room. The Grosvenor House’s Great Room — which is now part of a Marriott Hotel, but was once the ice rink used by HM Queen Elizabeth II when she was a child — is a unique venue for a trade exhibition. It’s the largest 5-star exhibition hall in Europe, but with the scale of roughly one and a half football pitches, every one of the exhibitors is well situated and no attendee is going to tire of the show floor until they have seen it in its entirety.”
He said feedback on the event was universally good — exhibitors liked the informal business environment created and the potential for networking that the surrounding sub-events gave them.
“Our cocktail reception on the balcony of the Great Room is attended by upwards of 700 produce and flower industry representatives every year — there really is nothing like it in the calendar and while that’s a great quantity of people to have in one place at one time, the most pleasing thing from the first event has been the calibre of the people who come. We have an extremely high percentage of decision makers at the event every year, and let’s face it, that’s what people want above all else.”
The event has one-off elements
View of the Great Room exhibition area from the balcony
  Raymond Blanc
from start to finish. The first ever fresh produce dedicated Foodservice Forum, held on the first day before the evening’s cocktail reception, was opened by world renowned chef Raymond Blanc and his son Oli, who was Show Ambassador for 2016 and who is campaigning hard to get children to eat more healthily with a cartoon character he has based on his dad — Henri le Worm. At the end of the exhibition, all of the remaining fresh produce from the stands was donated to Community Shop, which provides some of London’s most needy with good quality, low-price food and
drink. And on the final day, a tour to New Spitalfields Market gave international visitors a taste of the UK wholesale market scene and a chance to meet with some of the leading players in East London, while another group was able to sample some of the finest cuisine on a foodservice tour around the King’s Cross area of London, including the latest in street food.
For more information, including video footage of this year’s show, go to www.londonproduceshow.co.uk or email tommy.leighton@londonproducesh ow.co.uk
 FREE ADMISSION
Traders who think this might be the right place to find something different to sell should look to next year’s London Produce Show to be held at Grosvenor House from June 7 to 9.
As potential buyers you will get free admission to the exhibition. For more information email tommy.leighton@londonproduceshow.co.uk.
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