INTERVIEW: FANTASTIC FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL’S BRAD LANGTON

 

The Fantastic Food+Drink and Naturally Good Food Expo are partnering together for the very first time in Sydney in June. This is a large industry trade show that is targeted towards people who source, sell and serve natural and/or specialty food and beverage products. The event will be held at Sydney’s International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour and will see some 500 exhibitors coming together under one roof to discuss and showcase thousands of products as well as engage in networking events and specialty masterclasses. Natalie Salvo from The Australia Times Gourmet Magazine recently sat down with event director, Brad Langton to learn more about this fantastic foodie event.

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself? How long have you been working in the food industry and in what capacity?

I’m the Director of Marketing & Strategy for National Media, which has a focus on producing industry-building events, and which stages a range of events in the food industry. I’m also the Event Director for Naturally Good Expo and Fantastic Food+Drink Show. I’ve spent more than 15 years bringing buyers and sellers together to do business, consulting across a range of clients – including in the food industry – so I’ve touched on almost every facet of the sector – and I love it!

 

2. Can you tell us about the Fantastic Food + Drink Show? Can you tell us about the Naturally Good Expo?

Fantastic Food+Drink Show is the nation’s only event focused entirely on the fast growing specialty food category, including artisanal, local and free-from, international foods and flavours, specialty and craft beverages, confectionery and snacks, and fresh products like bakery, meat, cheese, deli and produce. Blending fresh ideas, the latest trends and new distribution channels with two days of focused buying, selling and education, Fantastic Food+Drink provides the opportunity to capitalise on the growing categories of specialty, premium and gourmet foods and craft beverages. It’s a curated marketplace where trade buyers from all channels can find exciting new retail and foodservice products from local and regional food artisans, purveyors, importers and entrepreneurs who bring passion and pride to the foods they produce and sell.

 

Naturally Good Expo is Australasia’s largest business event for people who work in the natural, organic and healthy products industry. From food and beverage to supplements and natural living products, the Expo provides retail owners, managers and merchandise buyers (health food stores, natural/organic grocers, online retailers, supermarkets, etc.), distributors, importers and exporters with a window into what’s new in natural and organic products, the latest innovations and market trends. It features hundreds of exhibitors, dozens of business seminars, industry awards and networking opportunities, and as a result it’s Asia Pacific’s go-to event for sourcing the latest healthy food, beverage, beauty and home living products. The show has seen enormous growth since launching in 2015, and this year it will again grow to welcome an estimated 350 companies representing thousands of innovative brands and products that are on trend, in demand, and ahead of the health curve.

 

3. Is this the first year that the Naturally Good Expo and Fantastic Food + Drink teams are coming together? How did this partnership come about?

It is. Naturally Good was created due to the overwhelming demand for healthy, natural products across not just food but across consumer products generally. Listening to buyers who attend the show, the logical next step was to create Fantastic Food+Drink. Specialty food is a category range that they buy, so it made sense to create an event that delivered that. For these reasons the partnership and co-location of the events is very much a natural fit, and will be of great benefit to many attending both events.

 

 4. Why do you think people should attend the Fantastic Food + Drink Festival and the Naturally Good Expo?

If you source, sell or serve natural or specialty food and beverage products, you have to be there – it’s literally everything you need across all of the categories, at the same time, under one roof.

The co-location of these two events means that the opportunities presented in one place are unparalleled. It’s an incredibly efficient way for visitors to connect with over 500 exhibitors serving up thousands of distinctive and buzzworthy creations that customers will love. Across both events, we’re looking at more than 500 exhibitors, 5,000 buyers, 3,000 businesses, and thousands of products.

 

5. Fantastic Food + Drink is dedicated to specialty, premium and gourmet food and craft beverages. There are also a lot of new trends in the food and beverage industry. What trends are you most excited about? Why?

The specialty / craft aspect of Fantastic Food+Drink is probably the biggest trend we’re seeing across the entire food and beverage industry. This event is about products of exceptional quality, regardless of whether that product is a locally made onion jam, or imported pasta. Everything that’s premium and specialty in nature is on-trend, and the demand for local and fresh products and produce is linked to that.

 

Specialty and premium products have continued to see phenomenal growth across all channels as consumers seek out quality products and produce at the supermarket, in specialty food stores, on the go, and when eating out.

 

Consumers are also increasingly concerned about how and where products are made, which is closely aligned to the demand for handcrafted, ‘slow’ products. Interestingly this trend can be seen to be transcending the food and beverage industries and is also evident across other sectors such as fashion, where bespoke and sustainably made items are increasing in popularity.

 

 

6. The show will have an area called Taste the Farm, an opportunity to source directly from the farmer and learn their backstory. It seems that consumers are also becoming more interested in the provenance of their food. How important is it for attendees who typically sell to consumers to collaborate directly with the producers? Will the attendees and the producers share ideas?

You’re right – more and more Australians are concerned about where their food comes from, but more than that, we know that Chefs and restauranteurs also want to know the backstory of the produce and the producers of the products that they’re using. This is a group that can’t easily get out to see and meet these people, so we listened to the market and providing the avenue for these groups to get together is one of our responses.

 

In addition, we’re also seeing a rise in farmers who are creating their own premium and local brands, and they want to supply direct to retailers and chefs, and Taste the Farm is a unique opportunity for visitors to meet these farmers and source premium meat, dairy and other farm-fresh produce.

 

I think it’s incredibly important for producers and sellers to have relationships and to collaborate to ensure that the product is what the end consumer wants, and our features such as Taste the Farm are designed to facilitate this and to establish relationships that will extend well beyond the show.

 

7. The shows will feature a number of seminars and interactive advisory sessions. Can you tell us who the presenters will be and what topics they will cover?

Both shows have education sessions that are designed to assist business owners regardless of what stage they are at. The Business Advice Lounge will provide free one-to-one business advice from a range of subject matter experts, and the Naturally Good Business Summit is a must-attend for brand owners, manufacturers and marketers looking for serious and strategic growth in their businesses. Taking the form of an intensive day full of networking, practical insights, fireside chats and expert panels delivered by a collection of international thought leaders, Australian power buyers and masters of their craft such some of the people included in the summit are Lisa Mabe (USA), Bob Burke (USA), Tim Sperry (USA), Scott Horwell, CEO Go Vita Distributors; and Ryan Austin, Category Manager of thegourmet.com.

 

8. What do you think is the most important issue facing the specialty and natural food industries? Why?

There are a couple of key issues here. When it comes to the natural product space, supply is an issue. As consumer demand grows and as more people consume natural products, the more demand there is on creating the raw ingredients – and it’s ultimately the ability to meet that demand that is the biggest issue we’re seeing.

 

When it comes to specialty foods, the biggest challenge is reinvention – having to reinvent yourself every day. As soon as a new product hits the market, there’s a range of almost identical offerings also available. Not much stays new for long! Creating products with a point of difference is a big issue for those in the industry.

 

9. The two shows will feature over 450 companies and become a large marketplace. Can you tell us about some of the main exhibitors?

Across the two shows, there’s an incredible range of businesses and products represented. Blackmores is of course a big name in natural products and they’ll be on site at Naturally Good, as will Amazing Oils, Bio Living, Nature’s Organics, Soul Fresh, and Integria Healthcare just to name a few.

 

At Fantastic Food+Drinks we’ve got an amazing array of specialty and gourmet products and companies lined up including the likes of Cartel & Co, Yarra Valley Gourmet Food, Hunter Gourmet Food, and KJ & Co Brands.

 

10. Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers of The Australia Times Gourmet Magazine about Naturally Good Expo and/or Fantastic Food + Drink?

If you source, sell or retail natural, gourmet or specialty products – and not just in food and beverage, but also across the likes of the beauty – you need to be here. These two events will literally offer up every product you need to see, under one roof. Basically if you’re in the space, you need to be here. The co-location of these two events makes for an incredibly exciting and invaluable opportunity for those in the industry.

 

The Fantastic Food+Drink and Naturally Good Expo runs from 4-5 June at the ICC Sydney Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour. For more information please visit: http://fantasticshow.com.au/ and http://naturallygood.com.au/

 

 

Originally published in May 2017 at the following website: https://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/504/#46

Visit The Australia Times’ homepage at: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/

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