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All the fun at a Trade Show...

With March brings Spring - and the “new year” of Trade Shows. There are so many trade shows throughout the year, we can’t get to them all but there are a few we do to get to. It kicks off for us with the International Food and Drinks Exhibition at Excel in London, which Daniela and I visited last week.

I do love a trade show. Granted they aren’t all suited to us and not all of what is exhibited in the ones we do attend is for us, but we love having a look about… and let’s not forget the tasting!

Trade Shows come in all sizes, we have been to some that, blink and you’ve missed it, and others that have nearly broken us! I think Daniela calculated we did about 9,000 steps at the IFE last week. Great exercise I hear some of you say, well, yes…but any calories burned were most certainly consumed (and then some!).

That's me, below, at the Specialty Fine Food show last year. 

Trade Shows are great for catching up with current suppliers, and meeting new suppliers, and sometimes I find suppliers that aren’t great for the shop but just for me to order from personally (like the negronis in a can - great for picnics!). We are often asked where we find our products, well, often we find fabulous new things at these shows.

This is me and Daniela, below, with Willie Harcourt-Cooze from Willie's Cacao. He produces fabulous chocolate, we have worked with them for many years and love what they do!

I love meeting and chatting to suppliers, it is nice to do business with nice people, so a trade show is a great way to get to know your suppliers a little better. And we also learn so much in those chats, not only about products etc, but so often we learn the stories behind the brands and products. Family history, recipe history, many of these things you do not often hear about when simply flicking through a catalogue. And these stories are what we love. We are a generational family business, a small business, and we love to work with businesses just like us. Products, people, businesses with a story that we love to share.

At Excel this year (below) we met some of the team from Chiostro, a brand that we know of but have just learnt about their wonderful history and we look forward to getting some of their beautiful products soon and to share their history with you. 

Our next trade show is the London Coffee Festival coming up in April. You can get seriously caffeinated here! This was me at last years show, below, when we met the team at Bialetti.

We have always attended Trade Shows, and many years ago we even exhibited. We used to do the Good Food Show and Daniela remembers going along with Dad to help. She remembers, or shall I say is haunted by the memory, of standing there holding a tray of free Dunkin Donuts (we used to supply them coffee) to give out and being swamped by the rush of people after their free doughnut.

Yes, a trade show is work and you are there to find suppliers but let’s be honest, part of the fun is the samples! The variety of food and drink you sample at a trade show can be brilliant. We have been at shows where one second you are tasting Panettone, then Parmesan, next chocolate, then salami, then ice cream, biscuits, then some pasta, maybe a little gin to wash it all down. And that is just the first course! One of our favourite things to try is the cheese. Big rounds of Parmesan, Pecorino, Grana Padano…or oozy Gorgonzola for Daniela. At one show there were lots of the Portuguese Pastel de Nata being handed out fresh from the oven! Mmmmm

Daniela has managed to find herself a frozen chocolate dipped banana (below)

Over the last few years the freebies have been reined in. It used to be that free food and drink was thrown at you (not literally) and you would come away with a bag full of treats. I remember attending the Specialty Fine Food Fair with Dad once and there was a convertible car filled with packets of biscuits to be taken! Recently there are not so many freebies, or they are kept under wraps for serious buyers. The businesswoman in me totally agrees, the cost of giving away so many goods is high, especially when most of those people just want free food and aren’t truly interested in your product. The greedy person inside of me is unhappy because I want to try the treats! (Don't judge me!)

I do remember when I was attending a show and a brand which I was really interested in stocking were exhibiting, all the sales reps were busy so I politely asked if I could just have a sample as I was interested in the product, I even named the wholesaler we use where I had come across the product. I simply wanted to try the product to try before we stock them. The rep looked me up and down and then said curtly “we do not have samples” and turned their back on me. Needless to say, I have not and will not be stocking that product! Oops..

Sometimes it goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some suppliers refuse to give out samples, I get it-ish-. Like I say, I am hesitant to place an order and stock a product if I haven’t tried it first, we like to make sure it is scrumptious for our customers. Then there are some suppliers who will give a morsel. One supplier who we have used for years and spend thousands of pounds with each year had some new biscuits that we wanted to try, they gave us ONE biscuit to try….not one biscuit each, one biscuit for me and Daniela to share. I think I laughed out loud! Then there are some that are just super generous. When I ask for samples, I don’t expect huge amounts, just enough to sample the product, some companies have given me enough to feed us for weeks. It is very kind and far too naughty, I have to  make sure I share....maybe. 

This is some of the lovely team at Seggiano. We have worked with them for many years and their products are delicious. Definitely a stand worth a visit, they've always got a slice or two of their panettones...and if they have their pestos I have to try some of them! 

Daniela has said this blog makes me sound greedy...haha...

Have you been to trade shows? Which ones do you like? 

Fingers crossed for some excellent new finds in the up and coming shows.


Lovely coffee, lovely people!! Nowhere compares!! ❤️

Another monthly treat! I was there in spirit with you, I could almost taste the cheese – I prefer savouries to sweet but wouldn’t refuse some chocolate, that would be rude. I am a keen allotment grower and every year treat myself and my brother-in-law (my husband is not the gardening enthusiast) to a day at the NEC in Birmingham. It is a huge gardening show with food thrown in. A great day out, even some samples!

Love reading the monthly post.

I met Willie at the 1st UK chocolatiers conference. Manchester, 2003 or so. Great guy and brave

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