By Stuart Gates
Published 10th August 2021
After a long hiatus, trade shows are about to open their doors again. The first will be Speciality at Olympia on the 6th and 7th September followed by others such as Lunch/Street Food, Imbibe and Fine Food Show North (at Harrogate on 17th and 18th October).
In fact, Fine Food Show North in early March 2020 was the last show most of us attended and as we sat chatting over a coffee, sharing hand-gel, little did we realise what was just over the horizon!
What can we expect now from Trade Shows since everything that was exciting about visiting shows – like the hubbub, the tastings, walking in crowded aisles, meeting friends old and new – will that still be the same? Or will it possibly be a little sterile? In fact, I wonder will people travel distances to shows and will they want to be around lots of people with, or without, masks… I will certainly still be wearing one!
For producers, I am sure, it is a time to reflect as well. Having chatted to a couple of them recently they seem very keen to meet people in person again, but the thought of cancellations or postponements are making them wary. But fingers crossed, this time the shows will go ahead.
For new producers, please take time to prepare to meet buyers and understand the not so sexy parts of your businesses, like pricing and margins. If you need help The Seasoned Grocer will soon be offering selected bundles of episodes on these subjects from £75, just in time for the show season.
If you are a new producer visiting a trade show for the first time they can be a bit overwhelming, so here is a checklist to help you on your way. This has been a good guide to me for the last 40 years since visiting my first trade shows at home and abroad:
In summary, use the shows to research, taste if possible, collect cards from useful contacts and get home and sort them out into various files. If, as a new producer, you are trying to decide is this the show for you, pencil the date in your diary and contact the organisers to see what is involved, what stands available, the costs involved and make a judgement but perhaps talk it through first with somebody like a business mentor or somebody who has shown before.
I am going to most of them and cannot wait. I hope to see you there and if you want to meet up, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration: Ailbhe Phelan
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