The International Food and Drink Event (IFE) came to ExCeL last month and this year it welcomed the inclusion of a fully vegan and plant-based section.
IFE has been a popular addition to the events calendar for over 40 years now, showcasing an unrivalled seminar programme with more than 1,500 suppliers on show. This year saw over 30,000 industry buyers in attendance, alongside leading retailers, caterers, wholesalers and import and export specialists.
It’s the place to be to discover new brands, tips, tricks and catering ideas and innovations from around the world. With guests enjoying the World Food Innovation Awards taking place, which this year was in partnership with FoodBev Media.
During the three days, Certification Clinics and an Advice to Go area were available for those needing direction or inspiration and industry ideas. In addition, you could take part in discussion forums and listen to talks by some of the most inspiring individuals from the world of food.
World of Veganism
One thing that was particularly exciting for us at IFE this year, was the inclusion of a dedicated vegan and plant based section of the event, in partnership with The Vegan Society.
This arena saw many of the most popular brands, such as Beyond Meat, Meatless Farm, Moving Mountains and Future Farm on show, along with many up-and-coming suppliers ready to display their best products and innovations. Amongst these, to name a few, were Better Nature and RE: Nourish.
In addition, the team from Shicken were proudly exhibiting their plant-based Tikka Kebabs, inviting the bosh:tv pair, Ian and Henry, to test it out.
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There was the potential for a last minute panic at the RE: Nourish stand when the tent accidentally fell over. BUT ever the professionals, the team carried on, meeting guests at the event and offering out tasters of their delicious vegan soups.
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Growth of vegan and plant based sector
Philippa Christer, Event Director: “Vegan & plant based is a rapidly growing category and one that many of our visitors are interested to explore. Not only does this new section showcase the diversity of vegan & plant-based food and drink, it also makes it quick and easy for our audience to find these products, compare a variety of brands and see the latest trends in the category.”
“We’ve certainly seen a growing demand for vegan & plant-based products across the industry, from retailers to consumers and from investors to new product development professionals. From conversations we’ve had with our community, there’s a huge amount of interest in new products and innovations in this category.”
Of particular note, the Future Food Stage held a session on day three titled “Finding success in vegan and plant-based.” This welcomed Crackd General Manager, Rik Roberts, and BOSH! Founders Ian Theasby and Henry Firth, in a discussion on how they manage to stand out in this hugely popular industry.
Remaining on the IFE agenda this year was the priority of maintaining and developing sustainability. Again on the Future Food Stage, The Food People’s Charlies Banks talked through the latest sustainability trends in retail, while Hamish Renton, HRA Global Managing Director, Tim Etherington-Judge, Avallen Spirits Co-Founder and John Steel, Cafedirect CEO held a session called “Futureproof: the industry’s fight for genuine sustainability.”