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20 Jan 2023

Significant investment up for grabs at Dragons’ Den style event launching at IFE 2023

Significant investment up for grabs at Dragons’ Den style event launching at IFE 2023

IFE has launched ‘IFE’s Big Business Break, with Surya Foods’ - with up to half-a-million pounds in business investment up for grabs for brands looking for their big break.

The live pitching event will see both fledgling and long-standing brands, in need of a boost to reach the next level, vying for the chance to scoop up to half-a-million pounds in investment from global food leaders Surya Foods, to help grow their business. It could even set the stage for a national retail listing.

An expert judging panel – including Asda’s Head of World Foods, Noor Ali; Mintel’s innovations expert, David Jago and Surya Foods Managing Director, Harry Dulai – will be putting entrepreneurs through their paces in order to find an exciting business at this year’s event.

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.

Speaking about the launch, IFE’s event director Philippa Christer said: “IFE is an event where food & drink businesses can make the connections that lead to game-changing opportunities. The IFE team are working with a panel of esteemed industry experts that know what it takes to succeed in highly competitive marketplaces and are ready to help take the right brand to the next stage of their journey. We're so excited to see what's in store for the successful business, so get entering!"

Meanwhile, Harry Dulai, the MD of Surya Foods who co-founded the initiative said: “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. 

“We are behind several of the UK’s leading brands and hold 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.)

“We are poised to help an exciting start-up, with a passion to help them achieve the No. 1 spot in their respective market too.”

Asda’s Head of World Foods, Noor Ali, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a future thinking entrepreneur to finally see their initiative go from an embryonic idea to a High Street name at pace.  This is not just about seeing a product develop but, more importantly, seeing an individual start to achieve their potential and develop themselves.

“On a personal level forming part of the judging panel to enable and unlock this is not only extremely exciting but also a lifelong passion of mine. Giving me an opportunity outside of my normal corporate world of retail to develop and shape raw talent that will be felt across the country, hopefully benefiting future consumers.”

IFE’s Big Business Break will take place within IFE’s New Products Tasting Theatre – which is brand new for 2023. Up to four finalists will make their final pitch for investment at the event. IFE’s New Products Tasting Theatre 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 business with the best pitch will also receive marketing support from IFE and receive a complimentary stand at the 2024 trade show. Entry is now open to existing IFE exhibitors who can take part via IFE’s entry portal:

The finalists will pitch to an 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.

ASDA, Head of World Foods, Noor Ali
Entrants will have the opportunity to pitch live in front of ASDA’s Head of World Foods, Noor Ali, and gain valuable feedback and support to help their business. She is ready to share her expertise with entrants to help them navigate the national retail landscape. 

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