Innoveat 2017 was another huge success and here are some of our favourite highlights from the show.
The Park Inn, Heathrow was buzzing all day as 63 exhibitors of brands both large and small were set up and ready to meet a whole host of travel and leisure industry food buyers. Every hand-selected brand was chosen because they had food and drink items that were a perfect fit for the travel and leisure sector. They had already taken into consideration the key differences buyers look for such as size, format, packaging, price points and flavour profiles when it came to expanding their range.
70% of all registered attendees visited on the day including industry giants British Airways, Virgin Trains East and West Coast, Rail Gourmet, Momentum Services plus many more. Every buyer was looking for new products and food and drink innovations, and there was a plentiful supply on the exhibition floor.
One of the many highlights was the arrival of the judging panel for The Mercury awards. Known as the ‘Oscars’ of the airline onboard service industry, The Mercurys recognise and reward innovation within the business of airline hospitality. They are a much-coveted prize for companies seeking recognition for the top quality food and beverage products they supply. The esteemed line up included:
- Jeremy Clark – JC Consulting
- Mirko Brenzinger – Etihad Airways
- Simon Heppner – The Sustainable Restaurant Association
- Mark Tazzioli – British Airways
- George Banks – Author of Gourmet & Glamour In The Sky
- Pam Suder–Smith – International Flight Services Association
Jeremy Clark was also happy to extend his duties to judging the two Innoveat awards available that day, and both categories were highly contested due to the huge number of excellent entries. After much deliberation, the final winners were announced as Paul Whyte, Str-eats for Best Innovative Product and Tony and Nigel Arnett, Mooredale Foods/Cartwright & Butler for Best Dressed Stand.
Jeremy felt that Str-eats were worthy winners because the flavours are authentic, the branding and packaging is relevant to today’s products within the travel industry and, they are a great on-the-go product to eat.
Despite many impressive stands at the show, Mooredale Foods/Cartwright & Butler stood out the most as it showcased product provenance and was beautifully eye-catching in colour.
The aftershow feedback helps us to grow and shape Innoveat each year, and we were delighted to hear so many positive comments from both the exhibitors and attendees.
Although Innoveat is smaller than many other national food shows, Jen, NPD Manager from Rail Gourmet sees this as a distinct advantage, “What is great about Innoveat is that the size of the show allows you to properly engage with all the exhibitors and feel like you have afforded the whole show enough time. The way that it is curated means that it is truly diverse and well put together and you don’t feel like you have just seen lots of the same products over and over again. All of this means I think it is one of the best shows in the whole calendar and one I am sure to always make time for.”
This sentiment was echoed by exhibitor Michael Sohel from Love Pickle who said, “It’s an event which is well organised, small enough to have time with a potential buyer and provides networking opportunities.”
Olly Hiscocks from Olly’s Olives agreed, “We had a great time at Innoveat and met a load of the key buyers in the travel industry which we had been hoping to get in contact with. We will be coming back for sure!”
British Airways told us it was “Inspiring, Innovative, Informative” and Wendy Snelling from DHL agreed saying, “Innoveat – good event, would recommend to other business and colleagues.”
The success of Innoveat lies in directly connecting innovative food producers with industry buyers to form the start of a fruitful relationship, and these connections are often missed at shows on a much larger scale. This was surmised perfectly by Melissa from Virgin Trains East Coast who told us that “Innoveat was a pleasure to attend, so many relevant suppliers in one room and some really interesting new products found, perfect for our sector.”