Exhibitors and attendees agree that the Foodfirst Exhibition, held on Monday at the ASB Showgrounds was an outstanding success. Over 100 exhibitors presented their products and services to more than 1000 industry figures at the strictly trade-only event. Following on from feedback from the 2017 exhibitors, the 2018 edition had been extended with more interaction, engagement and information.

Exhibitors were pleased with not just the number but also the quality of buyers.

“We’ve had some really good clients coming through, the likes of SKYCITY and such,” said Kerry Hand, brand ambassador for Puhoi Valley. “Overall, it’s been a great day. Foodfirst are listening to what the clients are saying, and the show is only going to go from strength to strength in the future.”

Tony Green of NAFDA was similarly impressed. Having made the trip across the Tasman to be part of the PITCHme panel, Green enjoyed both the PITCHme experience as well as walking the hall and getting to know the local market.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “For Foodfirst to execute something like this is really commendable. I like the fact that there’s a good energy around, you can hear people talking, there are plenty of suppliers. To get as many end-users here as they have just shows how good a job they’ve done.”

Another innovation for 2018 was the Inspire+ section of the exhibition, which gave the opportunity for smaller, artisanal producers to present their products. The likes of Hunter Gatherer Gourmet and The Larder Project expressed their pleasure with the new addition.

“I’ve had some great people come through,” said Nicky White of The Larder Project. “It’s been a fantastic day.”

The day was started with a breakfast, which gathered all the exhibitors together. The breakfast also saw the launch of the Pink Ribbon special of Menu Inpsiration by the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.

The Foodfirst Gala Dinner, held later that night, saw the presentation of a number of awards, including Supplier of the Year, Account Manager of the Year, Regional Sales Person of the Year and a Rising Star Award. Supplier of the Year was judged on representation, stock procurement, customer service, distribution logistics, accounting and administration and partnership co-operation. The award was won by Original Foods NZ. Peter Mitchell of Review Publishing was acknowledged for his contribution to the hospitality industry with a special award presented by Foodfirst.

Foodfirst general manager Barry O’Neill was delighted with how the exhibition turned out.

“Within just two years, the Foodfirst Expo has evolved into a unique trade only event, and the 2018 edition was a resounding success. It was great to have so many passionate suppliers and committed buyers under one roof. The innovation and exciting products from coming through from the artisan producers in Inspire+ was impressive.

“Foodfirst would like to extend an enormous thanks to those that contributed to the success of the Expo; the buyers, Foodfirst members, the Restaurant Association, Foodfirst board and staff, and our sponsors. Special thanks as well to our media partner, Restaurant & Café magazine, and the Review Publishing team.”