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Last Word – Fresh Montgomery

by Nicola Macdonald

Creating an annual celebration of food, drink and hospitality – MD Lori Hoinkes and portfolio director Soraya Gadelrab on bringing alternating biennial shows HRC and IFE together.


Why are you making the shows annual and co-located? 

Lori: They have always been run as biennial shows, alternating years. When HRC (Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, previously Hotelympia) started in 1935 and IFE (International Food & Drink Event) in 1979, buying cycles were very different. The pace of change and amount of new product development and innovation matched a lot of these biennial trade shows. It’s not that way anymore; people are constantly looking for new inspiration and new sources.

Soraya: The pace of innovation has changed drastically. Twenty years ago, most of the innovation was coming from big brands like Unilever. These days the innovation is coming from the smaller end of the industry – SMEs and start-ups – and they move much more quickly. A trend can come and go in a two-year cycle. 


Do the shows attract similar audiences? 

Soraya: There’s a crossover; IFE has traditionally served anyone in the food and drink industry, HRC was more for your chefs and food service operators. That said, a number of them would come to IFE and likewise some of the IFE visitors would come to HRC. It makes sense if they’re attending both events to put them both under one roof, with all of their sourcing opportunities in one place. 

Lori: We wanted to let people know well in advance so they could get it into their planning cycle, letting everyone at HRC know that there will be a 2021 edition of the show to factor in. 


Will there be one umbrella brand? 

Lori: We don’t think that makes sense. They are completely different shows and although there’s common interest between the two they still have disparate communities and need separate marketing and content.

Soraya: They each carry so much heritage, we wouldn’t want to lose that. 


Did you reach out to key stakeholders? 

Lori: Yes, if it’s not driven and led by the community then it’s not going to be the right decision. We have trusted advisors and stakeholders that we felt would be the right people to reach out to.

Soraya: We’ve gone out to key stakeholders and tested the waters and almost everyone we’ve spoken to said it’s a no brainer. 

Lori: It works well for the international crowd, around 50 per cent of the exhibitors at IFE are international and 25 per cent at HRC. What happens with those types of budget cycles is that you get in one year and don’t get in the next because you’re not needed. Getting back into someone’s budget all the time is something that the agents find difficult, so they’ve been pushing for an annual proposition. 

Soraya: If they’re investing in coming to the UK, have been seen for the first time and don’t have a touchpoint for two years it doesn’t give them as much visibility and longevity so they’re less likely to continue on those routes into the UK market. One of the things we’ve always done at Fresh is that we’ve invested in high end content, networking, opportunities to meet the buyers and added value. We’re responsible for bringing communities together and creating that one-stop-shop for inspiration and learning.


How does Pro2Pac fit in?

Soraya: Pro2Pac sits alongside IFE and services the food and drink packaging and sustainable solutions and that’s an area with huge growth potential.

Lori: It brings the entire value chain together, from ingredients to new product development to packaging to finished products.

Soraya: It’s everything you need in the world of food and drink. We will be working with many different industry partners to host multiple events concurrently to create an all-encompassing celebration of food, drink and hospitality. 

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