Food Matters Live 2017 – A Great Show And Great Food Too

Review: Food Matters Live 2017 (November)

Venue: ExCel London, Docklands. London

If food and drink means anything to you at all, then the Food Matters Live show and exhibition is the place to be. It not only caters for the seriously interested in food but for the professional, it is a networking delight. However, the main focus of this article as it always is for me when I visit, are the new food suppliers and booths showing off their wares. The insights are near profound.

To be perfectly honest, the food exhibitors are only show in town for me. Whilst I enjoy the presentations, seminars and conferences, it’s the food show that really counts. The curious layout based on diagonals and triangles actually has some appeal although I usually throw my plan of action out the window in the first half hour. I prefer the butterfly or bee approach – just head for what interests and appeals to me and cope with aching feet later on. By the last day, I’ve usually read a bit of the programme to try and meet up with those exhibitors I feel I will miss out on. Incidentally, one word of warning would be to make sure the show does not become a type of Good Food Show. There are plenty of these to tempt the customer or consumer at the NEC Birmingham without becoming a poor relative.

Most if not all food exhibitors are there to market their products to the buyer albeit retailer or wholesaler. That aspects represents the biggest draw and being London, there is a such a hotbed of innovation here that if it makes it in the Big Smoke it really should make it anywhere.

Hemp/Cannabis – A New Feature For Food Matters Live

What struck me this time was the diversity of the various food groups represented. No new themes as such to rave about save for one big and rather controversial topic. Hemp or cannabis had its own area and there are some fascinating products to be seen hitching onto this subject. The phenomenon of hemp- or cannabis based products is part of the scene now in a number of US states especially West Coast and Oregon and Washington State immediately spring to mind. It’s not unusual now to see pop-up shows in Portland (Oregon) selling a range of products based on hemp ingredients. I’m not dwelling on this too any great extent and I will return later to the subject.

Regional – Country Wide Produce

The global village is certainly more noticeable at Food Matters Live. It’s possible to wonder to an ever greater variety of countries represented by their showcase products and suppliers. South Africa, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and France were all represented on this occasion. South Africa was well represented and offered a variety of foods including Rooibos tea in cans.

Clean Label And Free-From

The concept of both ‘gluten-free’ and ‘free-from’ has been with us for a number of years and is now very much mainstream. What it also indicates to the consumer, is that ‘free-from’ is such a powerful tag that even if the product never sniffed gluten like bottle of water for example, we would instantly value it higher than a product that did not have a clean-label . Indeed many of the discussion points coming from the seminar on the subject also reflected on what is really a conundrum. It is though, a marketing dream !


Beverages – Dealcoholic Versions

Alcohol-free might not necessarily have the same cache as ‘gluten-free’ or even ‘free-from’ simply because the very presence of ethanol is a real must for some. Sophisticated non-drinkers do however need a product which is teetotally delicious. Dealcoholised wines have been around, usually with a lower alcoholic content than say 1%ABV but they often lacked both flavour and substance.

Botonique have taken the wine makers principle of offering the body and flavour of a dry white wine and then exploited the botanicals, the herbs, citrus notes and spices to make a truly great tasting drink. For the consumer, it’s offering a glass in the hand without losing the social niceties or your balance after a few quaffs. The bottle is attractive too, classic dark green in a Freixinet fashion with gold trim.

On trying the product, I was reminded of Seedlip which is the non-alcoholic version of gin and there is a similar bouquet and aroma in this product. There is a clear dryness on the palate without too much bitterness. I imagine that the herbals lend some of that latter characteristic. The aroma is acidic citrus without the peel, some coriander, thyme and liquorice. There is a Prosecco sparkliness too.

In terms of health claims and it is possible to do this with non-alcoholic products, there is just one sixth of the calorie content which means it contains 14 calories per 100ml. There is no sugar, sweeteners, flavours or preservatives and it contains a proprietary mix of vitamins, nutrients and minerals such as N-acetylcholine in the form of Prelixir ®.

If its grain rather than grape you are into, then Skinny Brands certainly offered a new take on what many regard an old theme. They are about lager and with their particular Macunian take on the product too ! However, it wasn’t low alcohol but low calorie. Surprisingly, I thought reducing the sugar content would take away the mouthfeel of the product but no hint of this. This look a certain winner and whilst health claims are not possible there is certainly word of mouth to encourage the uptake of something which might mean many of us do not suffer the old beer belly.

Teas And Coffees

Herb teas are increasingly popular- peppermint tea and chamomile tea are the top two which is surprising given the variety now available. They do however off the drinker a chance to relax and put the feet up accruing all the benefits that these products offer. Buddha Teas are the leading organic tea company producing their teas from single herbs.

Turmeric Latte Blends offers the healthiness of turmeric through its main three curcuminoids . It is a coffee alternative which is delicious in its own right as a hot drink. Interestingly, I was expecting the beverage to have a slightly unpleasant dryness to it because of the way turmeric behaves in curry but there is nothing of the sort here. It is to its credit winner of the Holland Barrett Innovation Pitch for 2017 at NOPE (Natural & Organic Products), Excel. It claims to be completely free of caffeine, gluten, dairy and is suitable for vegans. It is available in laminated sachets as 20g single-serve sachets or 200g pouches (10 servings).

Another great natural drink is made from Rooibos. Here we have cans of RUBRO which is refreshingly still with a full-bodied flavour of rooibos and other flavours like peach, berry and lemon. The manufacturer claims that rooibos protects the heart, fights stress, is high in antioxidants, typically free from caffeine and the drink I also free from additives, preservatives or colours. All variants have a distinctive fruit aroma and flavour and whilst rooibos has a woody note to it there is a distinctiveness about that separates it from other rooibos teas.

Protein Strips

Biltong and dried meat foods are nowadays viewed as protein rich products, even for the serious athlete. Protong Biltong® have created strips of what is truly mouth watering, beef with their own spices. The writer, Rider Haggard, he of ‘She Who Must be Obeyed’ literary fame often described his hero, Allan Quartermain chewing on biltong to sustain the adventurers in southern Africa. Choose flavours from Safari, Chilli as well as Original. They also produce protein bars containing either almonds, goji berries or coconut which have their own health benefits.

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  1. More pictures please – we met at this show and I showed you my new biscuits. Brilliant place ! I agree it is a great show. I do not bother with the talks as they are over my head but I think the product bit is something else.

    I have read some of your other posts and like what you have written for other people in terms of claims. Really good stuff. What you wrote for us was excellent and the trading standards people didn’t mind it either which was excellent.

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