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UK’s food-to-go industry enjoys their most successful lunch! show ever!

UK’s food-to-go industry enjoys their most successful lunch! show ever!


lunch! – one of the UK exhibition industry’s most innovative trade shows – confirmed its position as the leading event for the out-of-home food and drink market last month following a successful 5th anniversary edition.  Aimed at professional buyers looking to see the latest launches from the food-to-go sector’s most cutting-edge food, drink, packaging, equipment and technology suppliers, lunch! featured 236 exhibitors and attracted 4,314 total attendees at its new venue of the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.


This year’s show, which took place on 20-21 September, has been hailed a huge success, with 94% of visitors rating the show as Excellent/Good.  Visitor numbers aside, which were slightly up on last year’s 4,310 (which was up 41% from 3115 in 2010), it was the much commented upon quality of the attendees that – once again – impressed countless exhibitors.  Renowned for attracting top buyers from across the food-to-go retailing and contract catering industry, the 2012 show’s aisles were packed with a “who’s who” of the sector – with 27% of buyers in attendance reporting a spending power of over £1million (15% of which reported over £5million).  As a result, 90% of exhibitors have rated their quality of sales leads as Excellent/Good.  Whilst the waiting list for non-exhibitors looking to participate in lunch! 2013 – when the show returns to Business Design Centre, on 26-27 September – already stands at over 130 companies.


Chris Brazier, event manager of lunch!, is delighted with the results:  “We have just had our best lunch! ever.  The overwhelming feedback we’ve received so far from many of our exhibitors and an amazing 98% of visitors is that they loved the look and location of lunch!’s new venue and they enjoyed a very productive show.  The aisles were packed with a who’s who of the food industry doing genuine business with delighted exhibitors, who were showcasing the best in quality and innovation that this industry has to offer.”


Senior buyer Martin Hambleton from leading contract caterers Elior UK, was just one of thousands of visitors who left the show with a host of new product ideas:  “Yet again lunch! has delivered above and beyond expectations and perhaps should rightly now carry the title of being the most up-to-date and industry specific source of innovation of any of the trade shows around.”


“lunch! is a fantastic opportunity to see lots of innovation and catch up on the latest trends,” agrees Jeremy Crofts, purchasing director at EAT.  “It’s one of the most worthwhile days I have spent in a long time and it will be a must visit for next year.”


Renowned for its exceptional show content, it wasn’t just the show floor that was buzzing at lunch!.  The show’s highly anticipated Keynotes were all well attended, with many – including sessions hosted by Pret A manager’s Director of Food Caroline Cromer and British Street Food Award founder Richard Johnson – enjoying standing room only crowds.


Also popular were lunch!’s two highly-anticipated market trend seminars.  The first, hosted by Emma Read, director of marketing and business development with foodservice analyst Horizons, predicted that the UK lunch market, already “worth £14.9bn”, was set to expand over the next 12 months to occupy a growing share of overall foodservice sales.


Speaking at the lunch! trade show, Read said: “Britain’s lunch market is worth £14.9bn, that’s 35% of the total foodservice market. Growth over the past few years has outperformed what is essentially a flat market overall. Lunch business has risen by 3.3% on 2009 figures. We expect this growth to continue and expect the lunch market to account for closer to 36% of the total foodservice sector by 2014.”


Whilst Sodexo’s Lunch at Work Report, which was launched at the show on 21 September in conjunction with Allegra Strategies, revealed that taste, good value, convenience, and healthy food were the most important considerations for British workers.


Audience participation was also key to two of the show’s biggest draws – the prestigious British Smoothie Championships and the new-format Innovation Challenge Live!.


Now in its fourth year, the live British Smoothie Championships 2012, sponsored by Magrini, was won by Jamal Houssien, MD and founder of Shake My Shake Ltd, with his delicious smoothie Tropical Rainforest; which was made by combining fresh tropical juice, mango fruit, coconut, banana, and mango frozen yogurt, topped off with coconut flakes.  Aside from winning a wealth of industry kudos, Houssien took away the prize of a Vitamix Quiet One Blender worth over £1200.


“We just started to supply our smoothies to gyms and cafes around London, so winning this award has already started to make a major impact by helping us to secure more deals much more easily than ever before.  We really are delighted,” says Jamal Houssien, the new British Smoothie Champion.  “It just shows that when you have a great product the size of your organisation really doesn’t matter!”


Competition also remained at the fore of this year’s lunch! Innovation Challenge Live!.  Designed to promote and celebrate genuinely new ideas in the market place, including brand innovations and new twists on established concepts, the Innovation Challenge attracted over 50 entrants this year.  The 17 short-listed finalists were invited to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of industry judges (which included Jodi Steer – food technologist for food-to-go, Marks and Spencer; John Harrison – chairman of The Good Eating Company; and Simon Ambrose – editor of Sandwich & Snack News).


This year’s lunch! Innovation Challenge Gold award winners included Eltoni Pasta’s quick-serve pasta concept called Good Pots, which uses a new patented system to take pasta from frozen to hot and perfectly al-dente in only 10 seconds; enabling retailers to produce up to 200 high-quality meals an hour.


Delice de France was another worthy Innovation Challenge winner, with its new Chocolation White Croissant.  A straight butter croissant with delicious white chocolate inside, it is the industry’s first-ever white chocolate croissant.


“It was a wonderful show – even better than last year!  The quality of visitors and other exhibitors we were amongst was excellent and the show maintained the food-focused culture for which it is known and respected,” commented Delice de France’s Isabelle Davis after winning the company’s second consecutive Gold at lunch!.  “We were also delighted to win a gold award at the Innovation Challenge for our first to market White Chocolate Croissant.  Overall, we had an excellent two days and look forward to returning next year.”


Dawson Foodservice Equipment also picked up a gold award for innovation for the second year running for its new Lainox Heart Green Eco Combination Oven.  Features include EcoSpeed and EcoVapour (enabling increased efficiency through a reduction in water and energy consumption) and Green Fine Tuning (GFT) – a new modulating burner system and (patented) high efficiency heat exchanger, which ensures power wastage and emissions are considerably reduced.


Fatima Fazal, creator and founder of American company IHEART THIS, was also celebrating winning Gold for her unique ‘Heart Part’ – a small, brandable heart-shaped cutlery kit that snaps open into two forks, two knifes, and two scoops.  The 100% biodegradable product, which was devised to provide a considerate alternative to the 100 billion plastic utensils users threw into landfills last year, uses 66% less plastic than regular cutlery kits.  With all three utensils on each side of the Heart Part, it is also ideal for eating with one hand on the go.


“What an honour to win the Gold award for innovation amongst all the brilliant ideas showcased in the innovation zone,” says Fazal.  “It has been a seamless experience that allowed me to spread the love and message behind my product to exactly the right people.”


First time exhibitor Grasshopper also won Gold for their unique Hopper Pot – a new pop-up plastic pot that is fully compressible and biodegradable, which springs to life once the lid is removed (available in early 2013).


“Winning a Gold Award for Innovation is really special for Grasshopper, and shows that even a small company can come up with great ideas that consumers and the trade understand, respect and desire.  The response has been tremendous so far,” says Grasshopper’s managing director Helen Cooper.


Other lunch! Innovation Challenge Award winners included:



Tasty Little Numbers – Tasty Little Numbers

BUBBLEFROOT – The Interesting Drinks Co

Coco Cafe, Cafe Latte 330ml – Vita Coco

Lainox Heart Green Combination Oven – Dawson Foodservice Equipment

Chocolation White Croissant – Delice de France

Grasshopper – Grasshopper Foods

The Heart Part – IHEART THIS

Good Pots 10 second Pasta – Eltoni Pasta/Good Pots



Urban Fruit Raspberry – Bear Nibbles

Dr. Oats 100% Fruit & Oat Drinks – Dr. Oats

Pop-Up Cafe Pod – Equip Line Ltd



‘Brioche-to-Go’, Choc Chip Twist – Carrs Foods International

more. by Santa Maria – Discovery Foods Limited

Eltoni Savoury Pasta Grills – Eltoni Pasta/Good Pots

BevBax® – P4ck (Packaging Brands)

Mandarin & Ginger 32g – Seed & Bean Ethical Chocolatiers

100% Natural Goldenberry Juice – Terrafertil UK Ltd


It wasn’t just the lunch! Innovation Challenge award winners that were celebrating after the show however, with 91% of 2012 exhibitors rating their potential for sales from the show as excellent/good in the post-event survey.  Plus there’s also a host of glowing testimonials from satisfied exhibitors like Amanda Grove, marketing manager at Magrini (sponsors of lunch!’s British Smoothie Championships and Working lunch! Theatre):


“Yet again lunch! has been an amazing show.  Visitor quality is exceptional and we will definitely be back!” comments Grove.


“lunch! 2012 has been hugely advantageous for the Alibi Pretox drinks brand.  There have been a number of buyers in attendance that usually cannot be contacted.  Whilst other trade shows seem to lack the quality of decision makers, lunch! seems to be full of them!” says Tom Procter, commercial director at Alibi.


“We took a bigger stand at lunch! 2012 and it was fantastic – we met so many good buyers. I really think that the positive attitude and personalities of the organisers has an impact on the overall exhibition and helps make it such a good show!” says Sarah Hilleary, founder of gluten-free bakery b-tempted.


“There’s nothing else that’s nearly as relevant.  We get to talk to far more potential new customers than we would at any other trade show,” says Graeme Simpson, managing director of ecommerce software suppliers Butterware.


“A great show!  Our first time exhibiting at lunch! and we’ve met all the key decision makers from across the food-to-go market, including airlines, coffee shops, and retailers, as well as international distributors.  We’ll be back for more next year!” says Adam Sopher from Joe and Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn.


Visitor feedback had been equally enthusiastic – a testament to how well respected and essential the lunch! show has become to the industry it serves.  Summing up her lunch! experience, regular attendee Yseult Caroff-Richeux, buying manager – food to go for leading UK supermarket Waitrose, concludes: “Great for trends, product and packaging innovations.  lunch! is the one show not to miss for anyone involved in the lunchtime trade.”


lunch! returns to Business Design Centre in Islington, London, next year on 26-27 September 2013.  For further information, please visit

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