Sandra Sullivan MBE, Director of the Food & Drink Exporters Association (FDEA)

“The coming year is arguably going to be one of the most challenging – and interesting – for the UK food & drink industry with Brexit on the horizon and the terms of our withdrawal from the EU to become clearer over the coming months. In the exporting world, companies are understandably looking for certainty around the future trading landscape as the UK leaves the EU.

“With a lack of clarity around what regulations will apply, potential issues around access to labour and an increase in the cost of raw materials, there are many areas of concern which will impact the sector. However, exporting is a viable way to grow your business. Rising incomes, urbanisation and modern retail mean that global demand will rise and the UK’s reputation for quality, safety and traceability in our food chain are strengths exporters can trade on.

“According to the Department for International Trade, companies that export see a 34% increase in productivity within their first year of exporting and are 11% more likely to survive if doing business overseas . For British brands, exporting outside the EU could provide an answer to help continued business growth and buffer against any shortfall as a result of Brexit.

“It’s also worth keeping in mind how innovative the home market is. British food & drink companies are quick to respond to trends in the market and as such we are considered a forward-thinking, adaptable nation; an attractive quality in an exporting partner. This is reflected in the fact that in 2017 exports of food & drink exceeded £22bn, up 9.7% on 2016. Exports of branded goods increased by 12.1% to reach £5.8 billion .

“Whilst certain products are recognised as British e.g. shortbread and stilton, modern UK cuisine is a fusion of many different cultures and traditions. The UK food industry has a reputation for innovation and high standards. It’s this innovation that we as a country are renowned for that we need to keep in firm focus as we move into 2019.

“That’s why events like IFE are more important than ever. It is invaluable for the industry to unite together, meet with old and new acquaintances and share insight and knowledge. Meeting with like-minded individuals from both the UK and internationally, as well as future-focused brands, helps to ensure the sector is keeping future growth keenly in its sights.

Green is the new black

“One of the anticipated hot trends for 2019 is sustainability; a topic which has been firmly put into the spotlight in recent years. The impact plastic has on the environment was brought home following the airing of Blue Planet II last year, which showed that in some areas there are one million pieces of plastic for every km of ocean .

“With consumers increasingly aware of their environmental footprint, and equally that of businesses, it’s crucial that the food & drink industry embraces new opportunities to show it is taking steps to better its packaging decisions. This is where IFE comes into its own – it’s co-located with Pro2Pac, the UK’s complete processing & packaging event for the food & drink industry – meaning visitors can experience a comprehensive overview of both new products as well as packaging and printing options.

Why I am excited to be an IFE Ambassador:

“Having been to every edition of the show for as long as I can remember, I am keen to encourage new, small producers looking to build on their distribution to showcase their products at IFE.”

The best piece of business advice I’ve been given

“If something is difficult or feels hard to do, don’t procrastinate – do it at the start of your day. Nothing is as bad as it seems once you commit to sorting it.”
The most innovative food & drink product I’ve tried recently

“I love the Little Moons Mochi Ice Creams for a treat – they are delicious Japanese mochi, with a modern twist. I am also enjoying snacking on Rude Health’s Multigrain crackers. They taste great and are guilt-free!”

A bit about me:

“I have 30 years’ experience working with UK food & drink companies in export markets and am currently Director of the Food & Drink Exporters Association (FDEA), a not-for-profit trade association that offers its members export opportunities, advice and events to build their export contacts and knowledge.

“I’m also a co-founder of PS8 Ltd, the global exhibitions and events specialists in food & drink. PS8 organise the UK presence at many of the world's leading international food & drink trade shows and work with companies of all sizes to build their export presence.”

Food trends for 2019: how the industry will respond to consumer behaviours

Harriet Jachec, Features Editor, FoodBev Media 

The trend of health and wellness is at the forefront of consumer behaviour, with purchasing power being driven by a more educated and well-informed market. This comes at a time when convenience is also a top priority, with mealtimes evolving to fit into the increasingly busy lifestyles of modern consumers.

But how does convenience alter the way products are perceived and consumed, especially given consumer awareness about nutrition?

Here’s a breakdown of our 2019 food trend predictions.

Health and wellness

Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever before about taking care of themselves. Food products being released in the next 12 months will not only seek to gain a healthier status, but reformulations and new products will also incorporate functional benefits.

This can be seen in the surge in popularity of protein-enhanced products, with a strengthening focus on alternative proteins such as pea and soy.

Functional benefits will also be carried through to products such as confectionery and baking to make the sectors more attractive in this age of health and wellness, with companies adding ingredients such as cannabidiol (CBD) to update their image for health-conscious consumers.

The baking sector will transform to bring vegan alternatives to products such as kits, in order for consumers with alternative diets to enjoy convenient ways to bake at home.

Plant-based alternatives

In keeping with the theme of health and wellness, plant-based alternatives are on the rise for a range of food products.

Changes in diet, such as moves towards veganism and flexitarianism, are becoming ever-popular. The Vegan Society, for example, found that the number of vegans in Britain has doubled twice in the past four years: from 0.25% (150,000) in 2014 to 1.16% in 2018 (600,000) .

The ‘mindful consumer’ seeks more than fads – they seek genuine ways to eat better for themselves and the planet.

This can include cutting down on meat, or cutting it out of diet choices completely. Along with this will come a surge in more accessible ways to enjoy food without the use of meat.

This may also lead to the inevitable changes in legislation surrounding labelling – such as the one seen in nut-based milk alternatives – causing food companies themselves to be mindful in their labelling choices.

Plant-based foods are already available in the form of plant-based burger, sausage, bacon and chicken dipper alternatives, but this will evolve in more ways than one: in reformulations and product alternatives. This also will serve as a reaction to concerns about the levels of sodium in plant-based alternatives.


With changes in lifestyles, products released throughout 2018 have aimed to adhere to the fast-paced needs of the modern consumer. This includes meal kits and snacking pot versions of full-sized products.

According to the 2018 Nielsen report, ‘The Power of Snacking’ , traditional snacking products can be found in 1 in 2 of consumers’ FMCG baskets.

The snacking trend will continue, bringing with it new ways to enjoy previously less popular snacks, such as beef jerky. Products such as wagyu beef jerky, with flavour combinations such as black pepper, thyme, and truffle, will elevate the snacking sector and give consumers a sense of guilt-free indulgence.

Healthier ways of snacking will also arise, with sugar and sodium reductions giving products an extra edge amongst competitors.

Clean label

The clean label movement is consumer-focused, as it acknowledges the need for sustainably sourced food products which are and free of chemicals or additives.

More food brands will reformulate or create products to keep in line with clean label eating, as more consumers become aware of the ingredients that their foods consist of. According to a Neilsen report, 75% of global consumers share concerns about the long-term health impacts that artificial ingredients in their food may have .

Clean label initiatives such as Go Clean Label and the Clean Label Project promote the transparency of food labelling and the education of consumers in order to give them the tools needed to make well-informed purchase decisions.

Clean label foods will become more popular through education, just as products focussing on health and wellness have done so due to heightening awareness among consumers.

As more products claim to be clean label, guidelines will also arise in order to ensure claims are genuine. Authenticity and provenance is the key to this 2019 trend.

About the World Food Innovation Awards

The World Food Innovation Awards, in association with IFE, have a proud history of recognising innovation in the food industry and unearthing the latest trends. As the most established awards scheme in the industry, these awards are a fantastic way for you to enhance the promotion of your food brand and to ensure it gains global recognition. Enter today and save £55 with the early bird discount

According to new research from IFE

Plant-based food and veganism, the free-from movement and booze-free beverages have been identified as the top three trends which impacted food & drink businesses in 20181, according to new research by The International Food & Drink Event (IFE).

The research, which surveyed members of the UK’s leading and largest food & drink event network, also revealed that plant-based eating, sustainable packaging, gut-friendly foods and sugar-free are the most prominent trends businesses are looking to leverage in 20192 – demonstrating the influence consumers’ growing interest in health & wellbeing is having on the sector.

Buyers with an appetite for the latest food & drink trends, will be able to tap into the most up-to-date innovations and insights at IFE 2019 – taking place at ExCeL London 17-20 March.

Prominent experts from the food & drink industry, including leading plant-based influencers, will take to the Talking Trends stage throughout the four-day event to share their experiences, opinions and predictions. The impressive line-up includes Maria Antidormi, Insight Consultant at Anima Insight; Al Overton, Senior Buyer at Planet Organic; Derek Sarno, Director of Plant-Based Food Innovation at Tesco; and James Hacon, Managing Director of Think Hospitality.

Taking the exploration of up-and-coming food & drink trends to the next level and providing a Taste of Tomorrow, is the Tasting Trends area. New to IFE 2019, the multi-sensory experience will take visitors on a culinary journey as they see, smell and taste the food & drink that will be shaping the future of the industry.

While plant-based food remains the hottest topic, other trends on the menu include those that promote good gut health (fermented foods), food with good fats (Omega 3), foods that relieve stress (vitamised juices), the new stronger spicy flavours coming through in snacks and confectionery, and a closer look at why the proportion of Brits drinking alcohol is at its lowest.

To delve even deeper into the trends shaping the industry’s future, back by popular demand are the Trend Trails. Designed to help visitors navigate their way around the event one key insight at a time, the Trends Trails will visit some of the most progressive brands in the plant-based, food to go, private label, circular brands and global innovations movements.

Speaking about this year’s trends line up, Soraya Gadelrab, Event Director for IFE, said: “We have brought together a truly fantastic line-up of experts for next year’s event, to offer buyers the most up- to-date intel on the changing food & drink landscape and provide inspiration, ideas and tools to help businesses tap into upcoming trends. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to grow their business in 2019 and beyond.”

The food & drink industry’s biggest event of the year, IFE 2019 has garnered interest from some of the sector’s leading brands, with exhibitors including Cheatless protein bars, Eaten Alive fermented foods, Evoca Drinks premium soft drinks, Gato & Co plant-based indulgent treats and Meet The Jackfruit health supplements, to name but a few.

The biennial event provides both British and international suppliers with the rare opportunity to meet and connect with top retail, wholesale & distribution, import & export and foodservice & hospitality buyers all under one roof. With 1,350 innovative, global and cutting-edge food & drink manufacturers attending from 111 countries, IFE 2019 is one of the only places to experience the best of the what the food & drink industry has to offer across the globe.

Co-located with Pro2Pac, the complete processing & packaging event for the food & drink industry, the joint festival will provide a comprehensive snapshot of the food & drink industry, making it a calendar highlight for all forward-thinking companies.

For more information on IFE 2019 and to register for free, please visit:


Holly Shackleton, Editor of Speciality Fine Food Magazine and media partner of IFE 2019, discusses the rise in consumer demand for premium products and how the definition of ‘premium’ has evolved in recent years….

Premium products have always been at the top of the pecking order in the fine food industry. Desirable alternatives to everyday products; aspirational treats enjoyed at special occasions in place of more humdrum offerings.

At the end of the twentieth century, the term 'premium' was loosely defined when it came to food and drink products. There was a hypothetical tick list of notable requirements: a sophisticated colour scheme of dark blues, greens and golds; script fonts; use of words like 'finest', 'superior' and 'classic'; luxurious twists and inclusions of exotic and expensive ingredients.

Today, the definition is a little more blurred. As consumers are consciously becoming more engaged with the story behind their food, demanding information about its origin and – in the speciality sector at least – turning their back on products which draw a veil over their social, ethical and environmental impact, they're looking for more than attractive packaging and premium-sounding ingredients.

Below, a few talking points in the premium sphere right now:

The value of ethics

We've all seen the abundance of ethics-driven advertising and product promotion, and items with Fairtrade and organic credentials have long held a higher price tag than mainstream ones. As education about the importance of being socially and environmentally-conscious – and stories about the communities and habitats which benefit from such endeavours – is spread increasingly wider, consumers are willing to pay for products which help rather than harm our planet.

Paying for provenance

The value of British provenance has risen in recent years, with an emphasis on national pride and the recognition of the quality of traditional fare from our shores becoming wider-spread. UK shoppers see locally-produced products as higher-value than flown-in alternatives, and if a product's packaging paints a picture – if the face of John the farmer is included, or the story behind the item – all the better. It all comes down to traceability and clarity; shoppers are willing to pay a premium for food and drink they believe they can trust.

Luxury levels up

Luxurious products will always command a higher perceived value, but such items aren't taken at face value any more. The classic dinner party trio of smoked salmon and blinis with Champagne has evolved to – as in restaurants – include details of county or even farm of origin, if local. Smoked salmon products now proudly proclaim their Scottish heritage; blinis are homemade; Champagne is gradually being usurped by English sparkling wine by the likes of Nyetimber and Ridgeview, as their quality and reputation rivals their Continental counterparts more than ever before.

Invest in experience

Retailers and brands alike are seeing the value in the consumer experience. A food or drink item which is packaged to look and feel like a gift, a shop which allows the customer to escape everyday life and enter another world, or simply enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff bringing the essence of a brand straight to the consumer – all create a premium experience and attract repeat custom.

To find out more about premium food & drink trends shaping the industry, register for free to attend IFE 2019 and meet with some of the leading brands tapping into this movement.

A Taste of Tomorrow: IFE is back and bursting with inspiration

IFE 2019

Celebrating its 21st year, The International Food & Drink Event (IFE) – the UK’s leading and largest food & drink event – is returning to ExCeL London 17–20 March 2019.

A must-attend event, IFE 2019 will provide buyers with the chance to discover emerging trends; meet with thousands of international, future-focused producers and brands; and hear inspiring and thought- provoking talks from key figures across the food & drink industry.

Taking place in London – the home of food & drink innovation – IFE 2019 will provide a taste of tomorrow with the launch of captivating new event attractions, including:

Tasting Trends – taking future trend-gazing to the next level, this multi-sensory experience will allow visitors the opportunity to see, smell and taste some of the most innovative and on-trend food & drink products.

The biennial event provides both British and international suppliers with the rare opportunity to meet and connect with top retail, wholesale & distribution, import & export and foodservice & hospitality buyers all under one roof. With 1,350 innovative, global and cutting-edge food & drink manufacturers attending from 111 countries, IFE 2019 is one of the only places to experience the best of the what the food & drink industry has to offer across the globe.

Co-located with Pro2Pac, the food & drink processing & packaging event, the joint festival will provide a comprehensive snapshot of the food & drink industry, making it a calendar highlight for all forward- thinking companies.

For more information on IFE 2019, please visit: