Diversity, innovation & future-focused: IFE 2019
Image: IFE 2019
This year’s International Food & Drink Event (IFE), drew 27,000 food and drink professionals to London’s ExCel for the latest releases and innovations in the industry.
The event showcased more than 1,350 brand new international food and drink brands exhibiting their latest product innovations; from charcoal-infused drinks and popped lotus seed snacks to meat-free burgers and healthy protein-based ketchup.
Soraya Gadelrab, event director, said: “As one of the biggest international food & drink events, IFE has to live up to high expectations and this year certainly delivered! Every event I think it can’t get better and every time I’m blown away.
“The 2019 event was truly the best yet with boundary-pushing products being introduced to the market from a wide-range of innovative exhibitors; thought-provoking and insight-driven debates and presentations; and lots of ongoing and beneficial business partnerships made. It’s left a long-lasting impression on the industry.”
The implications of Brexit on the sector, and importing and exporting in particular, was the hot topic. Leading figures such as Sandra Sullivan from the Food & Drink Exporters Association, and Ian Wright from the Food & Drink Federation, debated the key issues, with the message to the sector focused on the need to protect the diversity, quality and range of food and drink produced in the UK.
The theme of sustainability was also high on the agenda, with over half of food and drink companies citing their reduced reliance on single-use plastic and making packaging more sustainable as the biggest sustainability challenges facing their business. Experts from WRAP, Defra, The Packaging Collective and the Soil Association took part in the Big Debate panels which highlighted the need to educate consumers from a young age on the environmental impact of food waste and ways to tackle this pressing issue.
The strapline of this year’s event – A Taste of Tomorrow – was brought to life through the Tasting Trends attraction where all sessions were standing room only. Each day, buyers and suppliers could see, taste and smell the up-and-coming food and drink trends such as international, plant-based, flavour and conscious food trends. The experience was then topped off with the chance to create bespoke punnets of microgreens with Rootlabs.
IFE 2019 was co-located with Pro2Pac, the complete processing and packaging event for the food and drink industry. With experts from the likes of the Confederation of Paper Industries, Women in Packaging and The Packaging Collective, the event featured interesting debates on topics such as packaging in the circular economy, the impact of Brexit on the packaging market and how to inspire the world to switch off the plastic tap.