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September 8, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia

2015-09-07, Specialty Fine Food Fair, Welsh cakes

Specialty Fine Food Fair, Welsh cakes

2015-09-07, Specialty Fine Food Fair, Lodge Farm

Lodge Farm Kitchen frozen meals

2015-09-07, Specialty Fine Food Fair, talks

Talks & demonstrations

Yesterday, Gavin & I had a very productive day at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair at the Olympia exhibition centre in West London. Heaving with fine food producers & thousands of people working in the fine food industry, Olympia’s exhibition halls were buzzing as new products & services were being launched, new connections & networks made. It was easy to see what was happening (as when many like-minds get together): interests & ideas were shared, negotiations made, deals struck, business done, productivity high. What a great atmosphere. I’ve been to other trade fairs in my former life, but yesterday was more fun as it was a food fair. Food is critical to life, but good food makes lives happier & healthier. It was the same effect as retailers who sell the same kind of product clustering together in our towns & cities (think shirts on London Jermyn Street or Antwerp’s diamond quarter). It was easy & business flowed, as many of the big players were there under one roof.

We made a plan for our day, listing who we wanted to meet & tasted samples of delicious food & drinks as we wandered amongst the hundreds of stands. Apley Farm Shop focusses on local food for local customers from local producers, so of course we always try hard to stick to that principle. Sometimes, I’d like to bend that rule & I think our customers would be glad if we did ! Explosivo chilli sauce (made in Italy & sold by the Bread Tree), the fabulous Dutch layered cake by Sokeh Food & a London based sparkling tea company are probably the best examples.

We’re lucky Shropshire’s land locked, surrounded by counties (ie not the sea!) boasting established, new & upcoming producers. We met a new company called Tigg’s making sauces in Shropshire. Herefordshire’s Lodge Farm Kitchen make delicious frozen ready meals. The Coconut Kitchen in Abersoch (Anglesey) makes Thai sauces, all of which are great taste winners & none of which are available in the supermarket. The Mushroom Garden of Snowdonia supply Shiitake mushrooms. Oomeringues are made in Powys (the Welsh border county west of Shropshire). Julie might like to decorate her cakes with edible, crystallised flowers made in Denbighshire (also in Wales) made by Eat My Flowers.

We looked a new labels & new packaging for our own products, found new deli wrapping paper, chatted with Edward Berry of the Ludlow Food Centre, met with Bob Farrand of the Guild of Fine Foods (who run the Great Taste Awards) & Charlie Turnbull of Turnbulls Deli from Dorset to chat about his online deli shop idea ClicBox.

We came away with our heads full of great new ideas to take back to Apley Farm Shop. The first thing I’m looking forward to creating with Lora, our Farm Shop supervisor, is a display of many of this year’s Great Taste award winners, where our customers can get a concentrated selection of the best & most recently created British foods.

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