I’ve been going to the biannual international food and drink event (ife2019) on and off for years. Ife2019 finished yesterday and I spent a couple of afternoons wandering around chatting to some of the 1350 exhibitors to get a feel for some of the trends. Judging by the number of exhibitors promoting plant-based and vegan foods – from puffed lotus seeds to meatless burgers – many food companies are embracing the opportunities the eat less meat and dairy messages that are coming from those with health and environmental concerns offer.
I couldn’t get near enough to hear the talking trends panel on ‘How the rise of plant based eating is continuing to shape our industry’ but was able to ask on panellist, Holly Shackleton, editor of Speciality Food magazine to share her views afterwards:
The Meatless Farm Company stand was busy serving its meatless burgers and chilli every time I passed it so I asked Frank Lewis, their innovation and R&D director, to step away from cooking them to explain just what they are:
The event draws visitors and exhibitors from around the world, so I was interested in what Chetan Dalal from Premium Foods in India came for – and he was very interested in the kind of products the plant-based trend might hold for a country with 700 million vegetarians:
Different exhibitors had different experiences, some very busy, others less so and this was the case for Koray Yilmazlar, from the Gourmet Group in Turkey who wondered if Brexit had caused an impact:
Closer to home Jim Williams, brand manager for snack bar maker Wild Trail, explained the various ways they can now get their product to market and the impact new outlets such as Amazon was having:
What many of the new plant-based foods I saw have in common is that they are processed or ultraprocessed, so it was a bit of a shock when I passed a stall from a New Covent Garden with fresh fruit and vegetables on display – which was something I craved for after sampling a bewildering range of tastes, from seaweed products from Korea to the meatless chilli. Apart from the food itself another hot topic is what do you package it in – and how to get rid of plastics.
Going Plastic Free
I only saw their Plastic Free mark on one exhibitor of fruit ice lollies – success for them will surely be when everyone at future events will be displaying the mark.