RECORD breaking deals of almost £500,000 were secured at a high-profile two-day trade expo led by a growing food distribution firm.
The Harlech Foodservice Food and Drink Expo 2020, now in its 42nd year, welcomed almost 2,000 visitors to the event in Venue Cymru, Llandudno which saw around 165 UK-wide suppliers showcase their produce.
Sales generated by the event were up by more than 30 per cent from close to £350,000 in 2019 to almost £460,000 in 2020. There were an additional 30 new businesses showcasing their produce this year.
The expo aims to allow Harlech Foodservice suppliers to talk directly to the customer, giving them a chance to tell the story behind their product and offer free taster to representatives from the leisure, education and health industries across Britain.
Andrew Foskett is Joint Managing Director of Harlech Foodservice which has its headquarters in in Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth, Gwynedd. The firm, which has a satellite base in Chester, employs around 200 people, and was founded by his mother and father, Colin and Gill.
Andrew, who runs the firm with his brother Jonathan and sister Laura, said: “The event just keeps on getting bigger and bigger every year and we had people queuing up outside before the doors opened.
“Visitors were just so keen to get in because there is a lot to see and some great deals to be had.
“There are many benefits to both our customers and our suppliers. The customers are able to come and see, taste and feel the products for themselves and there’s no substitute for that.
“They have a chance to talk to the supplier and find out more about the story behind the particular product, which can be very important, and find out how best it can be used.
“It helps them to find out the latest food trends and to stay on top of the changing patterns in the industry. We have suppliers here specialising in vegan produce, allergen free products, and other things which our customers need to be aware of and thinking about all the time if they want to stay on top of their game.
“It’s a really important event for all concerned and we are proud to be at the fore of driving it forward.”
Global giants such as Heinz and Unilever were present at the event along with a whole host of varying size businesses including Seabrook crisps, Fentimans and Deli France.
At the heart of the event is Welsh Street, created by Harlech Foodservice to champion the wealth of quality food being produced across the country and particularly in the North Wales region.
As part of this, Harlech Foodservice had its new range of Brongain Farm Welsh beef products which have just secured European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.
It is a new partnership struck up with the Pickstock family and their 680-acre farm, in Llanfechain, Powys, which sees Harlech Foodservice selling top quality steaks, roasting joints, diced beef and mince under the Brongain Farm brand.
Laura Jones, Marketing Manager for Edwards of Conwy, was manning a stall on Welsh Street, giving out free tasters for the butchery firm which is famous for its top quality sausages, burgers and other meat products.
Founded by Master Butcher, Ieuan Edwards, who was one of three sons born on a family farm in Llanrwst, the company has gone from a one-shop operation on Conwy high street to a thriving meat production business supplying major supermarkets, wholesale and foodservice firms. It has always stood steadfastly by its belief of supplying the best quality product which customers will come back for ‘again and again’, no matter how large the food production operation.
Laura said: “The expo is great because it gives us the face to face contact to interact with new and existing customers and to connect with them in a way which is just not possible through a catalogue.
“It gives us a chance to understand better what they need, ensuring we have the right products to match and we simply couldn’t do this without the forum of an event like this.
“The quality of our products is king for us and the event allows us to show people this. It’s also a chance for us to tell the story behind the business which is very important to people these days.
“It’s great and so busy which gives us a chance to reach a lot of people in a relatively short space of time.”
The Welsh Government were also in attendance on Welsh Street represented jointly by Food & Drink Wales and Visit Wales.
Among the thousands of visitors attending the event were Michelle Casmore and Melissa Williams of Y Pantri café in Caernarfon.
Michelle, Manager of Y Pantri, said: “We bake a lot of things ourselves and this event is really useful for coming and getting inspiration and fresh ideas.
“We buy from Harlech Foodservice and like to keep things as local as possible so the event is great for coming and seeing the products, trying them, seeing which might work best for us.”
Her colleague and assistant manager, Melissa, added: “When we come across a good product locally, such as the Dragon cheese, then we will always use that in our own baking and let our customers know that we do.”
Melissa added that discussing allergy awareness with the expo producers had also been very helpful.
She said: “It is about being able to find out which products are suitable for everybody and speaking to the producers themselves to understand how best to use them and recommend them to our own customers.”