The London Produce Show and Conference opened Wednesday with a focus on health and wellness as well as eating trends during the Foodservice Forum held in the Grosvenor House ballroom on Park Lane. (For live updates on Twitter, go to @ProduceBizUK or @LondonProduceSh.)
Among the speakers during the opening session that focused on fresh produce boosting profits were Simon Stenning, executive director, MCA; nutritionist Kate Taylor, the founder of The Food Boss; and a panel of industry leaders that included Dan Kelly, Vacherin; Andy Craig, Sainsbury's; Amy Roberts, Holroyd Howe; James Greetham, Levy UK; and Steven Novick, Farmstand.
Presented by the Fresh Produce Consortium and Produce Business magazine, the London Produce Show, now in its fifth year, featured a series of lively afternoon panel discussions as well as a chef's demonstration and round table. And a lot of interesting quotes about produce:
Steve Fox, Bartlett Mitchell: "Rhubarb is like rocking and rolling right now."
Chef Paul Gayler, MBE: "For me, fennel is one of the most underrated vegetables. ... You know, 80 percent of an onion is sugar."
Novick, founder of Farmstand: "Healthy is a 1980's term. We shouldn't be using it anymore."
One of the highlights of Wednesday's session was a seminar led by FPC chief executive Nigel Jenney on opportunities for trade in the UK market, now and after Brexit, and possible impacts regarding regulatory requirements, food safety and trade.
Some of the key challenges addressed by Jenney:
- A need for clarity now and a seamless tradition.
- Secure but fritctionless UK borders for customs clearance.
- Beneficial trade agreements with the EU and third countries.
- Accessing the global labour market and supporting the current workforce.
"Without free trade agreements, Brexit is likely to increase UK food prices (fruit x 5.1 per cent; vegetables by 4.8 per cent)," Jenney said.
There were also a pair of panel discussions: one led by Chris Sheppardson, founder and managing director of EP Business in Hospitality and Chess Partnership, with fresh produce entrepreneurs Nigel Harris (The Proper Food & Drink Company), Tony Reynolds (Reynolds) and Tom Heather (Chop'd). The other featured procurement experts Christopher Gaulke (Cornell University), Jason Danciger (Hana Group UK), Matt Jones (Reynolds) and Fox.
The day wrapped up with look at the future of produce and new ventures with Danciger, Chloe Stewart (Nibs Etc.) and Catherine Salway (Redemption Bar), as well as an evening cocktail reception.
On Thursday, the programme will start with The Perishable Pundit Thought-Leader Breakfast, which includes an All-Star cast of produce insiders who will discuss ways to advance the industry, followed by the opening of the trade show.