Like many others, I attended my first exhibition last week when I visited Speciality Fine Food Fair. Again, like others I spoke to I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect … but overall it was a positive experience and, above all, really good to be seeing people face to face again!

A common theme for the exhibitors I spoke to was that they were happy to be back out seeing customers, but most didn’t come with huge expectations. People simply wanted to see how exhibiting again would work and it was good to hear that several business owners and leaders I met had had a few ‘good conversations’ – showing it can be worth taking the time to attend an exhibition – as opposed to having a stand and simply sampling.

The show had a busy vibe and stand space at Olympia seemed fully utilised, upstairs and downstairs, and once through the Covid protocols at the entrance, in many ways it was easy to forget to pandemic. Many stands were sampling - albeit often with more H&S processes (understandably) in place. Certainly, there were plenty of opportunities to try a host of different drinks – gin in particular - and lots and lots of chocolate! I did struggle with seeing the points of difference with some chocolate brands over others, emphasising the need, especially in a crowded market place, to ensure your brand’s USP is clearly signposted, its messaging is easy to understand, and it delivers standout on shelf.

We’re all looking forward to more events this autumn, to meeting more people and hearing their stories at first hand, tasting more products and generally catching up on all the foodie news in person.

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