The inaugural Warwickshire Food and Drink Producers and Buyers event was held this week with a host of businesses taking part. The event saw food and drink suppliers come together from Warwickshire and beyond, showcasing home-grown produce from speciality cheeses, wines and spirits, a range of meat from quality breeders, handmade chocolate and ice creams and a fantastic array of home-grown chilli jams and chutneys.
Exhibitors and delegates heard from a number of guest speakers, including Russell Allen from award-winning family butchers Aubrey Allen, now official Royal warrant holders, who helped to open the show.
The first of what will hopefully become a regular event, the Warwickshire Food and Drink Expo sought to support Warwickshire’s thriving, yet not widely known, food and drink sector by providing businesses with a networking and trading opportunity, as well as information on what is happening to support the industry across the region.
The event, which formed part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Business Festival, featured a fantastic array of businesses, such as the innovative Sweet Potato Spirit Company. Using sweet potatoes, the company produce a variety of products including vegetable crisps (drawing on their years of expertise supplying Tyrells Crisps). They also produce a selection of alcoholic drinks including wines and spirits containing only the natural sugar from the drink’s key ingredient.
Responding to the increase in popularity of speciality and quality gins, The Cotswold Distillery showcased their high-end selection of gins and now whiskey, whilst The Little Gin Company, set up by friends Emma and Nicola, was exhibiting their brand new Tailor Made Gin. Berkswell Cheese offered samples of their delicious ewe’s milk cheese and The Lost Farm from Grandborough, Rugby, cooked up some of their quality-reared pure bred meats from some of their many forgotten breeds.
Interesting talks were given by a number of guest speakers, including Crop Research Director Dr Rosemary Collier from the University of Warwick speaking about the university’s research into food production. Prerna Carroll from the Institution of Grocery Distribution (IGD) informed audiences about the organisation’s charitable initiative Feeding Britain’s Future; designed to inspire the next generation and equip them with the skills for work.
Richard Biggs introduced the audience to a new farm shop concept and educational family attraction he is developing just outside Stratford. The Farm is a family run business that will be home to a collection of artisan food producers, coupled with a wholefood café using produce from its on-site kitchen garden. The Farm is due to open in summer 2018.
Leader of Warwickshire County Council Cllr Izzi Seccombe said:
“It was fantastic to see such a variety of leading food and drink companies come together and I hope that everyone who attended found it useful.
“Warwickshire County Council will continue to support this vital industry to help promote the special producers we have in our county and I hope this event will be the first of many”.