Speciality & Fine Food Fair launches packed 2022 seminar programme


Innovative farm shops, delis and speciality retailers are set to take to the stage for the 23rd edition of Speciality & Fine Food Fair as the event returns to Olympia London on 5-6 September.

The who’s who of food and drink will share insights and best practice across three stages – the Food for Thought Stage, the Taste the Trends Kitchen and the Inspiration Bar, curated by Mixology School – covering a wide range of topics in the world of speciality food & drink.

The Fair will kick off with a session from Charles Banks of thefoodpeople and Kelly Dowson of Good Sense Research taking a deep dive into to the latest trends in sustainability and ESG in food & drink, followed by an in-depth session with Artisan Food Club’s Marcus Carter, Julia Kirby-Smith of Fridge of Plenty, Holtwhites Bakery’s Kate Smith and Jan Robijns of The Broadway Deli & Grocery as they look at how a personalised customer service can lead to an increase in total basket spend.

Robijns comments: “As a long-term visitor and previously also exhibitor, the Fair has always been very valuable for me. As a specialist retailer, now more than ever it seems, it is important to stay on top of interesting and exciting products, brands and developments.”

The Food for Thought Stage will also see a session hosted by WGSN’s Head of Food & Drink Jennifer Creevy, who will be joined by Liam Jones of food sharing app Olio and Olympia London’s Abbey Short as they discus tackling surplus food in the retail sector.

“Food waste remains a huge challenge for the food and drink industry, as is measuring our overall progress as an industry,” says Creevy. “Yet, as we have forecast on WGSN, there are many exciting innovations that are rising up to tackle this important issue. I’m excited to lead the panel at Speciality & Fine Food Fair to discuss innovations around food waste and share best practice with our audience.”

In addition to further sessions on growing your business amidst the cost-of-living crisis, recruitment and retention, some fantastic food failures (and what we can learn from them) and turning the hybrid business model dream into reality, the Food for Thought Stage will also host the Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards from 5pm on Tuesday 5 September.

The awards were launched in 2021 to celebrate excellence in speciality food & drink, with categories including Innovative Product of the Year, Sustainability Pioneer of the Year, Small Independent Retailer of the Year, Large Independent Retailer of the Year, International Product of the Year and Outstanding Industry Champion.

Newly launched food & drink brands will also be highlighted as part of Pitch Live, sponsored by Virgin StartUp, which will give three exhibiting suppliers the chance to pitch their product to a panel of industry experts. The winning business will receive a 4sqm stand at Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2023, edited video coverage of their live pitch and a marketing & PR package courtesy of Speciality & Fine Food Fair. Virgin StartUp will provide the winner with six months of business mentoring and access to three Virgin StartUp masterclasses.

Taste the Trends Kitchen

A new addition for this year’s Fair, the Taste the Trends Kitchen will see Consultant and Chef Steve Walpole exploring various trends in food & drink and working with partners including the Guild of Fine Food and the World Charcuterie Awards.

Across the two days of the event, Walpole will be exploring the healthy food movement, the influences of Japanese and Korean food & drink on Western cuisine, plant-based foods and what it means to be producing ethical products.

Walpole comments: “I can’t wait to be back at Speciality & Fine Food Fair, cooking up a storm with some amazing guest speakers. Join us on 5-6 September to discover some of the most exciting trends in food & drink and to sample some of the best products on offer at this year’s Fair.”

There will also be a takeover from Grano Padano, best-selling PDO cheese in the world, who will be demonstrating some of the key uses and marketing messages for this unique cheese.

The Inspiration Bar

Each year the Inspiration Bar, at the heart of the show’s Drinks Cabinet section, partners with Mixology School to share best practice and insights into the world of alcoholic and no & low drinks products.

The Inspiration Bar is a must-visit for retailers or hospitality business owners eager to learn more about the marketing and mixing of speciality drinks products to enhance the customer experience and increase sales and profits.

Zoe Cunliffe, Director at Mixology School adds: “We can’t wait to head back to Speciality & Fine Food Fair this September to help the Fair’s food & drink buyers learn about the very latest trends and products in the drink sector.”

“There are a huge number of new products on the market and our session at the Fair will give retailers and wholesalers the tools to make the most out of these exciting and creative drinks offerings.”