Innovative products, chef competitions and industry hot topics will all be crammed into a packed programme at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia in London. Lisa Jenkins rounds up some of the show highlights
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair returns to Olympia in London this September, with more than 700 passionate producers ready to share their wares. The show will bring together emerging trends, new product development and diverse ingredients, including fine chocolate, dairy products, cured meats, condiments, beverages and premium alcoholic drinks.
The fair, now in its 19th year, allows independent buyers, caterers, importers, distributors and wholesalers to tap into some of the best produce available in the UK today.
There will be a wealth of trend information on offer, from the flavours and ingredients most likely to makes waves in the sector through to advice and insights on the hot topics of the day, such as sustainability, seasonal trends and the food-to-go sector.
Show highlights include the Drinks Cabinet, which is new for 2018 and will showcase the luxury drinks and mixers available to the industry, with samples of what’s hot in the speciality market and ideas on how operators can include them in their offering.
Across the three days of the fair, visitors will also have access to mixologists to discover unique pairing serving suggestions. The success of the artisan drinks market has seen the number of distilleries in the UK double to 315 in the past five years. The number of UK breweries producing craft beer and cider now stands at 1,700, with 520 opening in 2016 alone – which is no surprise given that research from the Society of Independent Brewers has found that half of beer drinkers now opt for local craft beers, a figure that rises to 61% among 25- to 34-year-olds.
Among the brands set to take centre stage in the Drinks Cabinet will be Berkshire Blend, a premium no-alcohol spirit alternative; craft brewer Big Drop Brewing Co, which identified a gap in the market for superior quality, full-flavoured, low-alcohol beer; and Seedlip, the ‘world’s first’ distilled, non-alcoholic spirit.
Speciality & Fine Food Fair ambassador Rupert Ponsonby, who is director of R&R Teamwork and co-founder of the Beer Academy, says: “The Drinks Cabinet will be a one-stop treasure trove of liquid exhilaration and opportunity – a titillation of tonic waters, a frenzy of frozen cocktails, a gymkhana of gins, a cornucopia of local carbonated drinks, along with ciders, fruit juices, and ‘spirits’ with no alcohol in them.”
The Discovery Zone will display the best of what’s new, with stands from more than 200 companies that have been trading in the UK for fewer than three years.
The Fresh Discovery Awards, also new for 2018, will recognise and celebrate excellence within the speciality market, shining a light on products that are set to take the industry by storm in 2019.
The Savour the Flavour area will feature some of the industry’s most experienced chefs and specialists with a demonstration kitchen, and the Food for Thought stage will allow experts to share their knowledge with visitors on how they have future-proofed their businesses.
The Trend Trails are designed to offer a way to meet artisan producers and discover lucrative new products within core sectors, such as chocolate and plant-based products, and the Great Taste Deli, an arena for the Guild of Fine Food’s Top 50 award winners.
Where and when
Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2018
Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, London W14 8UX
2 September: 10.00-17.30
3-4 September: 9.30-17.00
Register for a free ticket and see the full list of exhibitors at
What’s on the stage
Food for Thought stage
How to win at lunchtime in the food-to-go market
11.30-12.15, 3 September
With Adam Sopher of Joe & Seph’s Popcorn, Kerb’s head of markets Theo-Lee Houston, and Melrose and Morgan founder Ian James
Preparing for Brexit: opportunities and pitfalls
13.30-14.15, 4 September
With entrepreneur John Stapleton hosting, food policy professor Tim Lang, Borough Market managing director Darren Henaghan, and Ruth Edge, chief food chain adviser at the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales
Savour the Flavour Theatre
British Charcuterie Awards – taste the medal winners
12.00-12.25, 2 September
Presented by Henrietta Green, co-founder of www.britishcharcuterie.live
Ready, Steady, Speciality! A plant-based special
14.45-15.30, 4 September
A chef competition with Steve Walpole, head of food at Ugo Foods, against Andrew Aston, business development chef at BaxterStorey