At the end of March, I headed to IFE (The international food & drink event), the UK’s biggest and most important food and drink trade show. It’s a fantastic four day event with plenty of opportunity to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and network with the industry’s finest food businesses.

ife2017-StatsIFE 2017 was split into 9 sections including Bakery, Cheese & Dairy, Drinks, Great British & Irish Food, Grocery, Health & Wellbeing, Ingredients, Meat & Seafood and Snacks & Confectionery. Armed with my show guide I made my way round to find out what’s trending in the world of food and drink. There were several trends that were focussed on in the show – Innovation On-The-Go and Hot Beverages resonated the most with PLPR.

Recent consumer trends are showing increasing demand for a healthier snacking option, and a shift towards less processed foods with a higher protein content are becoming increasingly popular. Fori has recognised the demand for such products with their innovative savoury meat protein bars. From the protein bar to the fruit crisp, Emily’s Crisps hits the healthier snacking nail on the head with fruit and vegetable crisps with no preservatives are gluten free and vegan friendly. Real Handful snacks and Yumpa cricket flour bars were two more businesses in the healthy snacking category with great identities and delicious products.

2016 saw an increased emphasis on the higher sugar content of many hot beverages including hot chocolates and flavoured coffees. As a result we’re seeing innovation in flavoured and sugar free variants. Speciality teas and loose leaf teas are becoming increasingly popular, with high demand for accessible solutions for home. I came a across some fascinating companies capitalising on both of these points, but Brew Tea Co. & Beanies flavoured coffee really stood out as innovators in their field.

Amongst all the other fantastic exhibitors we saw, it was wonderful to stop by all the following food innovators, sample some scrumptious products and to have a good old chat.

Godminster – Our fantastic cheese client who produces the BEST vintage organic cheddar and brie (I’m not biased at all).

Troo Granola – Fresh granola and toasting kits by post. Where do I sign up?

Monty Bojangles – the ultimate chocolate treats.

Belvoir Fruit Farms – naturally delicious Cordials, Pressés from the Lincolnshire countryside. And they now make non-alcoholic wine!

Mr Trotters – British pork crackling, the English mustard flavour packed a punch.

Kent Crisps – Hand cooked British crisps… their roast beef & spitfire ale flavour was the thing of dreams.

Natural Beverage Company – delicious fruity Fairtrade drinks.

Cheers Ice Cream – luxury alcoholic ice cream. Made with premium alcohol and fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Marshmallowist – gourmet marshmallows, the strawberry and basil was my favourite.