05 Dec 2018

Thousands of food and drink sector professionals crowded into London's ExCeL for a taste of the inspiring innovation reshaping the way we eat, at Food Matters Live 2018.

The biggest cross-sector event of its kind brought together a unique gathering of more than 15,000 food manufacturers, ingredients suppliers, start-ups, buyers, policy makers, scientists and health professionals, to discover the latest ideas and delicious products responding to fast-moving trends. 

From disposable plastic to sustainable diets and the boom in free-from, "clean label" and low-sugar food and drink, the biggest issues for the industry were on the menu, as the three-day event returned in November for a hugely successful fifth year.

There was standing room only at many of the conference and seminar sessions, led by an impressive line-up of industry speakers tackling issues from government calorie-cutting targets to the future of food.

And visitors queued for the chance to try out hundreds of healthy, sustainable and nutritious products and ingredients in Food Matters Live's curated exhibition, and to meet the entrepreneurs hoping to take the UK market by storm.

Innovations from Denmark, Japan, Italy, Spain, China, Germany, Peru, Greece and more brought an expanded international presence to the event, including live cooking demonstrations showcasing different culinary cultures. And, from closer to home, Food and Drink Wales's eye-catching black dome drew visitors to their speciality food products.

This year saw a record number of buyers from retail companies ranging from Sainsbury's, Tesco, and Itsu to Fortnum & Mason, Innocent Drinks and Virgin Trains join the crowds, while manufacturers attending included Nestlé, Allied Bakeries, Kerry Group, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Quorn Foods.

And, cementing its reputation as a great place to do business, more than 300 one-to-one meetings took place at Food Matters Live's business matchmaking service, Match, where food and drink professionals had the chance to meet potential partners among buyers, manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, retailers and distributors and to benefit from market insight into how to do business in the UK.

Juliet King, Product Developer at Planet Organic said: “The show provided a good opportunity to meet relevant contacts within the industry, from key suppliers and customers to industry experts and advisers. The seminars and conferences were particularly useful, providing excellent insight into the state of the industry.”

Among exhibitors in the Kombucha Corner, dedicated to the popular fermented tea drink, was No.1 Kombucha. Its Marketing Manager Alex Walker said "This was our first year of exhibiting at Food Matters Live, and we were non-stop at our stand. The show had a great vibe.

"Visitors were keen to learn more about our story, the founder Jonny Wilkinson and they loved sampling No.1 Kombucha. It was great to hear the positive feedback and meet new relevant customers and potential stockists.”

Briony Mansell-Lewis, Food Matters Live Director, said: “Food Matters Live’s focus on showcasing the newest, most exciting and best innovations on the market has grown into an unmissable opportunity for industry professionals. It is a platform to explore, taste and experience the latest trends shaping the future of food and drink."

“We will now look to continue building on the success of the event and to work closely with our community to deliver an even better Food Matters Live in 2019.”

Planning is already under way for Food Matters Live 2019, which will take place alongside the new Food Matters Summit, the first high-level international gathering of its kind with more than 150 outstanding speakers tackling the key issues affecting the global food and drink community.

Notes to editors:

The fifth Food Matters Live took place on 20-22 November 2018 at ExCeL London, attracting more than 15,000 visitors.

This unique free-to-attend event brings together the food and drink industry, retailers, foodservice providers, government, and those working in nutrition and health.

In addition to an extensive exhibition, Food Matters Live offers a multi-stream seminar programme and main stage conference, featuring hundreds of speakers covering wide-ranging topics – from the latest food and public health policies to the future for the free-from food and drink market, latest trends in sustainable retailing, packaging design and exemplar brand strategies.