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10 Mar 2023

Finalists announced for Dragons’ Den style event launching at IFE

Finalists announced for Dragons’ Den style event launching at IFE

Four finalists will be vying for their chance to scoop up to half-a-million pounds in business investment from global food leaders Surya Foods at this year’s IFE. The UK’s leading trade show launched ‘IFE’s Big Business Break, with Surya Foods’ earlier this year  – aimed at brands looking for their big break. Judges have now whittled entries down to four finalists who will go head to head on March 20th.

The live pitching event will see the four brands, looking for a boost to take their business to the next level, vying for the chance to scoop significant investment. It could even set the stage for a UK national retail listing.

An expert judging panel – including Mintel’s David Jago, World Foods expert, Noor Ali and Surya Foods Managing Director, Harry Dulai – will be putting the entrepreneurs through their paces.

This year’s finalists are: Ecuadorian brand Dicorne, who entered its new superfood lupini bean snack, Cho Cho!; Cypriot brand The Mighty Kitchen, for its plant-based Mighty Chick*n Strips; British brand Mama Dolce, who entered its coconut-based ice cream Coconilla and Patagonian (Argentinian) brand Franui for its innovative frozen treat -  fresh raspberries dipped in two layers of chocolate.

IFE is the UK’s leading trade event for food and drink professionals attracting over 25k visitors. Over 1,500 innovative, global and cutting-edge food and drink manufacturers are set to converge on ExCeL in London from 20th to 22nd March this year to showcase their products.

Harry Dulai, the MD of Surya Foods who co-founded the initiative said: “We have been really impressed with the calibre of entries. We are always looking for great new products to add to our portfolio and new brands to work with. This is what inspired our partnership with IFE.

“IFE is perfectly placed to connect us with new talent, it is literally the place new brands cut their teeth and take their first steps into the world of FMCG, so it is really fantastic to have received such a fantastic response in our first year.

“I am really looking forward to seeing each brand’s pitch and deciding who we would like to extend this fantastic opportunity for growth to.

“We are ready to invest up to half-a-million pounds in the right product. This could take the form of equity stake, investment in working capital, profit share, marketing and PR support or loan agreements to help a fledgling business break into the highly competitive UK FMCG market.” 

IFE Event Director Philippa Christer added: “It was incredibly tough whittling down all the fantastic entries to just four finalists, but what a final four! It’s so exciting to see the innovation and creativity amongst the suppliers at IFE, not to mention a compelling brand and brand story, and I can’t wait to hear their live pitches at our New Products Tasting Theatre.”

Surya Foods is behind several of the UK’s leading brands and holds the No.1 market position for Laila Basmati1 (No. 1 dry rice brand), Mai Thai1 (No. 1 Jasmine rice brand) and Thai Dragon2 (No.1 sriracha sauce brand.)

IFE’s Big Business Break will take place within IFE’s New Products Tasting Theatre – which is brand new for 2023. It allows exhibitors to pitch their products direct to senior decision makers from across the food and drink sector. The immersive experience has been created to enable food and drink manufacturers and brand owners to meet face-to-face with buyers, who can easily sample new and recently launched products.

The successful pitcher will also receive marketing support from IFE and receive a complimentary stand at the 2024 trade show.

IFE’s Big Business Break:;
T & Cs apply:

The four finalists will pitch to the expert panel of judges between 12pm and 1pm on Monday 20th March, 2023. The judging panel includes:

Surya Foods Managing Director, Harry Dulai

Entrepreneur Harry Dulai is heading up the expert judging panel. Surya Foods is the biggest supplier of world foods into supermarket giants Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons. The company's leading, authentic Laila basmati is the UK's No.1 dry rice brand1 . Harry will be looking to give a promising start up a Big Business Break - with some serious investment on the table for the right product.

Mintel’s Principal Consultant David Jago

Mintel’s David Jago, Principal Consultant, will be on hand to share insight on the very latest food and drink trends. An expert in innovation with Mintel, a global market research firm with offices around the world, David is well placed to spot a trending product and share market analysis and recommendations to help shape fledgling brands.

Noor Ali, World Foods expert

Entrants will have the opportunity to pitch live in front of world foods expert, Noor Ali, and gain valuable feedback and support to help their business. Noor, who has held senior buying management positions with both Asda and Morrisons, has a career in national retail spanning two decades and is ready to share her expertise with entrants to help them navigate the national retail landscape.


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