Top buyers from EAT, Tesco, Waitrose, Superdrug, British Airways, IKEA, Brakes, Elior, Baxterstorey, Sodexo, and Gate Retail Onboard, are among the who's who of buyers that have already pre-registered to attend lunch! 2015, which returns to the Business Design Centre in London on 24-25 September.
Now in its eighth year and firmly established as the leading trade event for the UK's £6.9bn food-to-go market, lunch's pivotal focus on innovation has made it a popular choice with buying teams from many of the country's biggest food-to-go operators, including supermarkets, multiples, contract caterers, wholesalers, distributors, travel caterers, cafés, coffee shops, and sandwich shops.
Thanks to glowing testimonials and a significant 44% increase in attendees in the last two years, the 2015 edition will be the biggest lunch! yet. To accommodate growing demand from a raft of new food, drink, packaging, technology, and equipment suppliers looking to reach this important market, a 25% increase in stands has expanded the show into an additional new hall on the Upper Feature Level – taking the total to an unprecedented 350 exhibiting companies. Over 6,500 key buyers and decision makers are set to join them, when doors open in just over three months' time.
"Once again, the high demand for stand space at the show reflects the ever growing popularity of the food-to-go sector," says group event director Chris Brazier. "Rebooking for lunch! 2015 smashed all previous records, leading to the show's ground floor selling out in December, followed by the Middle Level in January, and the Innovation Zone in February. Even with the addition of a new hall, the show is on track to be sold out within a matter of weeks. It's a testament to the show's continuing success – and demonstrates just how important and essential lunch! has become to suppliers and buyers looking to do business. "
"With food-to-go going from strength to strength as a breakfast and lunch occasion, it is great to be able to come to a show with this at its core. I would recommend anyone involved in this sector to make a date with lunch! 2015," says Red Kitching, category buying manager, Aramark.
"I recommend lunch! to anyone in the food-to-go sector. It's a fantastic chance to discover innovation and trends in our industry." Kate Skerritt, director of business development/co-founder, POD.
"2014 was my first visit to lunch! and I can see why it is so popular. It gave me the chance to see existing suppliers and meet new ones, along with seeing what innovation is coming up in the market." Theo Thomas, director of operations UK at Esquires Coffee.
What's new for 2015?
Given the breadth and number of exhibitors on offer at lunch!, it's perhaps no surprise that the word 'innovation' is frequently cited as the biggest selling point of the show. Since its launch in 2008, it's been helping buyers to stay one step ahead of their competition with all the latest new trends and suppliers. And 2015 promises more of the same.
The initial exhibitor list, which includes Cawston Press, Chi Drinks, Coca Cola, Coveris, Frobishers, Lick, Metcalfe's Food Co, Pipers Crisps, Raynor Foods, Simple Simon Foods, Taylors of Harrogate, Tri-star Packaging, UCC Coffee and Unilever (Tea Fusion), is available at onlineexhibitormanual.com/divlunch15/exhi/exhibitorList.aspx.
The show's new hall on the Upper Feature Level will be home to the Innovation Challenge Showcase, VIP Lounge, new Artisan Ingredients Village, and new Menu Innovation Theatre (sponsored by Magrini). It will host the popular live finals of the annual British Smoothie Championships (also sponsored by Magrini), the Café Life Awards heats, and an exciting new series of coffee, smoothie, tea and juice master classes lead by industry experts.
Over 60 companies will also be exhibiting in this new area. Among them are returning names like ELLER foodPackaging, Heavenly Cakes, Farsan, and Ginger Bakers. Whilst new exhibitors include New York Bakery Co, Euro Food Brands, Marston Foods, James White Drinks, Goodness Brands, George Skoulikas, TM Electronics, Two Chicks, White Rabbit Pizza, Emily Fruit Crisps, Pullins Bakers, Pizza Cones, and Devonvale Bakers.
Country Choice, Foster Refrigerator, Gino Gelato, Tetley, Twinings, WMF UK, and Oli & Zoe's Food Co (which launched the UK's first healthy popcorn for children earlier this year) are just some of the other new exhibitors preparing to make their lunch! debut.