– NI’s largest food, retail and hospitality expo opens its doors! –
TODAY, 11th March 2014, IFEX, Northern Ireland’s biggest international food, drink, hospitality and retail exhibition, opened its doors, welcoming thousands of trade visitors to the event on the first day.
Home to some of the country’s biggest food companies, manufacturers, distributors and artisan producers, the event runs until this Thursday, 13th March, and over 5,000 industry professionals are expected to attend over the three days.
From ‘trailblazing’ BBQs to a new cheese from the Sperrin Mountains, and everything in-between, IFEX is the place where all of those in the food, drink, retail and hospitality industries will be over the next few days.
Mr David Small, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, attended IFEX on opening day, meeting with some of the 100 plus exhibitors who are attending the event to generate new business and contacts.
Mr Small praised the quality of local produce on show and also welcomed the large crowds on the first day of the event. He said: “Employing almost 27,000 people*, the food and drink processing sector is one of the most important to our economy in the north, worth approximately £4 billion.
“The sector is targeting further significant growth through the aims and objectives outlined in Going for Growth, the report of the Agri-Food Strategy Board. The Report outlines the need for a single, secure supply chain underpinned by sustainability for producers and processors alike and events like IFEX will only help to secure further expansion for the sector.
“It’s extremely encouraging to see many agri-food businesses represented at today’s event and I welcome the investment from these companies in securing future business. Based on today’s footfall, exhibitors are set to have a busy few days ahead.”
IFEX is a melting pot for all elements of the food, drink, retail and hospitality industries. Connecting food producers to distributors, and those in the foodservice and hospitality trade, it’s the show that galvanises all in the industry.
Historically IFEX is home to the Salon Culinaire culinary competitions. Known as the stomping ground for student and industry chefs, the Salon Culinaire is hotly anticipated as THE place where the ‘best of’ NI culinarians are formally acknowledged. This year, almost 250 student and industry chefs are taking part, all vying to win individual and team medals including the sought after DARD Northern Ireland Chef of the Year accolade.
IFEX opens at 10am daily and runs until Thursday 13pm March at 4pm. The trade expo is free to attend and you can register at www.IFEXexhibition.co.uk