The power of fresh produce to raise profits in the burgeoning foodservice industry will be the central theme at The Foodservice Forum this year.

Forming part of The London Produce Show and Conference 2018 today, the interactive forum brings together UK and international buyers, chefs, operators and influencers from the foodservice, catering and hospitality sectors to discuss the latest trends and the plentiful opportunities presented by the world of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Foodservice Forum features a mix of engaging and immersive seminars, discussion panels, chef demonstrations and ideation sessions. Now an annual event, the third edition takes place today at The Grosvenor House on Park Lane, ahead of the official evening Opening Cocktail Reception for The London Produce Show and Conference.

The agenda
Returning to host this year’s one-day event will be Jason Danciger, the UK Managing Director of the Hana Group, a global group of Japanese and Asian inspired food concepts set in retail environments in over seven countries.

“This is a show that stands out from the rest of the pack by its vibrancy of relevant market information and fresh produce trend setting,” explains Danciger. “It’s a must-see event that boasts a crystal ball to fresh produce innovation and market news in both retail and hospitality.

“Overall, The London Produce Show and Conference is a genius touch point to understand the tidal wave of interest in fresh produce and healthy eating,” Danciger adds.

Around 200 delegates are expected to attend The Foodservice Forum from across the UK and international foodservice supply chain, according to London-based foodservice consultant Jeni Edwards, who is coordinating the programme.

“We’re gathering everyone from fresh produce growers and wholesalers to hospitality and foodservice providers to discuss issues related to the current market, as well as to expand their network,” she comments.

“Foodservice remains a diverse and thriving industry in the UK, with plentiful potential to make fresh produce more prominent on plates,” Edwards continues.

“The producers, wholesalers and foodservice providers attending the forum this year can expect to learn more about how fresh produce can contribute to the bottom line and the changing face of procurement as the demand for fresh fruit and veg continues to grow.”

Indeed, this year’s Foodservice Forum programme is titled ‘Fresh Produce Boosts Profits’. The event will begin with a comprehensive overview of the current and future eating and drinking trends in the UK given by Simon Stenning, the Executive Director of MCA, which delivers cutting-edge news, opinion, insight, data and market intelligence on the UK eating and drinking out market.

Health and wellbeing

The growing interest in health and wellbeing will then be addressed by Kate Taylor, the founder of consultancy The Food Boss. Taylor, who is a registered associate nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition (AfN) and an accredited fitness coach by The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), is known for offering advice that’s fresh but not faddy, and backed up by her years of experience and study.

Following her presentation, Taylor will chair a panel of expert retail, restaurant and foodservice providers to centre the conversation on how foodservice operators can help to improve public health, and the significant role that fresh produce has to play on menus in terms of contributing to a healthy lifestyle.

“It is a recognised fact that diet plays a significant role in people’s wellbeing, and levels of output are significantly increased where restaurants, businesses and schools have a healthy catering offer in place,” points out Taylor, who moved to the UK from Australia in 2006.

The health and wellbeing panelists include: Andy Craig, Head of Fresh Food, Field Team & Food Service at UK supermarket operator Sainsbury’s; Dan Kelly, the Director of Food at Vacherin, Amy Roberts, Director of Nutrition and Food Development for Holroyd Howe; James Greetham, Business Director at Levy Restaurants UK; and Steven Novick, the US-born founder of London-based heathy food company Farmstand.

Veganism and vegetarianism

By late morning, the spotlight will fall on the kitchen with a Chefs’ Round Table Discussion chaired by Lin Dickens, who is the Marketing Director for bartlett mitchell and a life-long vegetarian that benefits from over 30 years’ experience working with consumer and corporate brands.

This discussion presents an opportunity for a panel of top executive and development chefs to assess the impact that the hugely popular trend for plant-based, vegetarian and vegan meals is having on menu planning, ingredient sourcing, kitchen production and skills application.

The chefs taking part include: Lloyd Mann, Global Culinary Director for Sodexo; Rob Kirby, Chef Director at Lexington Catering; Chris Knights, Executive Chef for Young & Co.’s Brewery; Simon Price, Chef Director for ISS Food and Hospitality; and Thomas Rhodes, Executive Chef at Twickenham Stadium.

To bring to life that discussion, a live chef demonstration will take place on the stage starring Paul Gayler MBE, one of the UK’s Culinary Masters and a pioneer of vegetarian haute cuisine. Representing LifeWorks Restaurant Group, Gayler is a leading industry consultant, the author of more than 20 cookbooks, and the former Executive Chef de Cuisine at The Lanesborough, one of London’s most prestigious 5-star deluxe hotels, where he worked for 22 years.

Experts and newcomers

After the lunchtime networking break, Chris Sheppardson, founder and Managing Director of both EP Business in Hospitality magazine and Chess Partnership, will conduct a special interview with a number of dynamic foodservice entrepreneurs to find out how to grow your foodservice business.

These stand-out individuals are recognised for leading their businesses to success by promoting fresh produce as central to their brands. The interviewees will include: Nigel Harris, who is the founder of The Proper Food & Drink Company, and the former owner of Fresh Direct; as well as Tony Reynolds, managing director of Reynolds, one of the UK’s leading suppliers to the foodservice sector.

Following that, the second panel of the event will give the audience the chance to ask a select group of procurement experts about the many questions raised throughout the course of the day. Moderated by The Foodservice Forum host Danciger, this lively discussion will bring together some of the leading buyers, procurement specialists and influencers in the foodservice sector.

Those taking part include: Steve Fox, Purchasing Director of UK-based independent contract caterer, bartlett mitchell; Matt Jones, a Senior Buyer at Reynolds; Angela Malik, Programme Director at Gather & Gather and UK government advisor via The London Food Board; and Christopher C. Gaulke, Professor of Food & Beverage Management and Food Chain Logistics at Cornell University in the USA.

The Foodservice Forum will then come to a close with a glimpse towards the future; when Danciger and Sheppardson will showcase the newcomers to watch out for.

One of the start-up entrepreneurs who will share their exciting stories and groundbreaking new concepts with the audience is Catherine Salway, CEO and founder of Redemption Bar. Redemption is a healthy gastrobar concept that operates two alcohol-free restaurants in London, where the menu focuses on vegan, sugar-free and wheat-free food. Salway will be joined by business partner and Creative Director, Andrea Waters.

The next day

On the following day of The London Produce Show and Conference (Thursday 7 June), the role of fresh produce in foodservice, in addition to the latest cooking techniques, will be explored further in the Chef Demonstration Kitchen that runs alongside the trade exhibition.

This year’s line-up includes a number of high-profile chefs from a diverse background of culinary disciplines, including: Robert Ortiz (LIMA restaurants), Dipna Anand (Brilliant Restaurant and Dip in Brilliant), Tom Cenci (Duck & Waffle) and Dr. Rupy Aujla (The Doctor’s Kitchen), plus Christian Weij (Puur-e), a celebrated Dutch chef, fermentation specialist, food designer and author.

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