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10 reasons to visit The Food & Drink Shows 2024

3rd Apr 2024 - 04:00
The UK Food & Drink Shows return to the NEC Birmingham (29th April – 1st May) bringing together the very best of the grocery, specialist retail, wholesale, foodservice and hospitality sectors.

Promising a ‘festival of talent’, advice, innovation and networking across three days, here are the top ten reasons to make a trip to the midlands.

One free ticket, five jam-packed shows

The UK Food & Drink Shows comprise five individual events under one roof all of which can be accessed with just one visitor badge.

Across Farm Shop & Deli Show, Food & Drink Expo, The Restaurant Show, National Convenience Show and The Forecourt Show, there are countless opportunities to witness innovation and get networking, meaning valuable time spent offsite can have even more of an impact for visitors whose interests go beyond any individual show. Register free here.

Exhibitor Excellence

Over 1,200 exhibitors are set to come together across the five shows, giving visitors an abundance of choice whilst also providing brands with the most up-to-date look at innovation in their respective sectors.

The breadth of exhibitors offers visitors solutions across all aspects of their business, from the latest trending products to drive footfall, to the essential services required to keep operations running more smoothly than ever.

A bumper crop of awards

The widely-recognised gold standard across the category, The Farm Shop & Deli Show Product and Retailers Awards return to the shows in 2024. Witness the latter reveal its winners live on stage on Monday 29th April.

Britain’s Best Loaf competition will be back once more and will be announced on stage on Tuesday 30th April alongside a new event launched by British Baker, Britain’s Best Cake, which will be announced on The Grocer Stage on Monday 29th April.

Meet your culinary heroes

In a new feature for 2024, The Restaurant Show is opening an exclusive area for book signings. Some of the biggest influencers, chefs and operators from across the industry will be giving away copies of their latest books as well as offering visitors meet and greet sessions along with a photo opportunity.

Business advice

Five stages – The Grocer Stage, Farm Shop & Deli Stage, Chefs’ Stage, Restaurant Stage, Convenience Store and Forecourt Trader Stage – present a standout programme of seminars with industry experts offering their takes on the most pressing issues and thought-provoking topics.

Whether it’s questions around sustainability, the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, the future of plant-based eating, improving diversity and inclusion, harnessing technology or trends for 2024 and beyond, sessions are designed to tackle the problems that the industry professionals continue to come up against, whilst also giving visitors an opportunity to ask their burning questions.

Favourites return and evolve

Dragons’ Pantry, the ultimate retail test, is back after popular success last year, with a new batch of brave entrepreneurs facing big characters and big questions as they aim to secure a new listing.

In 2024, it’s joined by the all-new Retailers’ Den, a similar concept that drills down into the convenience landscape. See which brands make a splash and try the products for yourself on Tuesday 29th April and Wednesday 1st May at 2.15pm on The Convenience Store Stage.

Innovation at every turn

Whether you’re looking to expand your deli counter offering, get hold of a new energy drink range, find a financial solution, smarten up your forecourt storage set up or discover the latest back-of-house formats, hundreds of innovative products are set to grace the show floor at the NEC.

Specialist zones

After their inaugural success in 2023, two exclusive zones are set to return to Food & Drink Expo for 2024. Healthy & Natural zone will include a range of healthy, wellness and natural products encompassing free-from, vegetarian, low-calorie and organic items to name a few.

Meanwhile, Plant-Based Zone will also be making a comeback with everyone’s favourite vegan and plant-based exhibitors showcasing the future of this ever-growing sector.

Industry heavyweights out in force

Five separate stages, set up across the different shows, include a panellist line up that reads like a who’s who of industry specialists. Just some of the names signed up to speak are:

  • Aktar Islam, chef patron, Opheem
  • Heather Mills, founder of VBites
  • James Cosmo, company director/actor, Annandale Distilleries – Storyman Whisky
  • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
  • Ian Taylor, retail director, SPAR UK
  • Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality
  • Sam Akinluyi, UK&I managing director, Innocent Drinks

Don’t just take our word for it…

Karen Betts OBE, chief executive of the Food & Drink Federation: “There’s a great range of companies across the diversity of the industry. There’s a real sense of optimism here at the show, it’s a great event to be part of.”

Written by
Edward Waddell