Hampshire Fare's First Trade Expo a Success

Hampshire Fare's First Trade Expo a Success

Hampshire Fare held its very first Trade Expo on 20 March 2024 at Southampton Football Club, attracting exhibitors from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. This event was an opportunity to discover the innovation and entrepreneurship of the businesses and services supporting the region’s food, drink and craft sector. These services include businesses providing sustainable packaging choices, opportunities to export by sail, and innovative software for food production businesses.

Natasha Dochniak, Commercial Manager, Hampshire Fare, welcomed everyone to Hampshire Fare’s inaugural Trade Expo: “It is a great pleasure to bring together all of our trade services and corporate partners to showcase how they can help our members’ businesses. At the core of Hampshire Fare are three Cs: community, collaborations and connectivity, and this Trade Expo is certainly an opportunity for our food and drink community to forge connections which can lead to valuable collaborations.”

Key note speakers included Natalie Wigman, Assistant Director, Regeneration and Growth, Hampshire County Council who used the event to introduce and explain the new Hampshire 2050 Directive with economic prosperity at the core of the Council’s priorities. Natalie Wigman commented: ‘”Today presents a fantastic opportunity to meet with many wonderful businesses who deliver significant value to the Hampshire economy. The Food, Drink, Hospitality and Craft Sectors make a highly significant contribution to Hampshire’s prosperity, to the economy and to local communities and Hampshire is renowned for quality, world-leading standards, and characteristic products.

“We are aware of the difficulties facing businesses in these sectors today, including a challenging consumer landscape, pressure on margins, sustainability, nutrition, and the continual need to invest in technology and innovation. However, this is a resilient and adaptable industry with huge opportunities available to this sector and through working together, we believe the future is bright.”

Robin Waldman, creative director, RCM Media, a video production company working with BBC Good Food Show and Visit Hampshire, gave a popular presentation, sharing examples of engaging social media posts and providing useful tips on creating content to increase engagement and followers and raise awareness.

Ruth Baker from Simply Safer discussed food safety standards and allergen guidance for food businesses. Ruth is also an established podcaster and, along with co-presenter Lucy Branson, recorded an episode of the podcast ‘From the other side of the pass’, a resource for the hospitality industry, live from the Expo.

Clarke & Son, based in Basingstoke, Corporate Partners of Hampshire Fare, also attended the Expo, offering free consultations for members.

Exhibitors were very positive about outcomes from the event. Jo Alexander, owner of Creative Clique, a creative agency in Old Portsmouth, said: “Joining Hampshire Fare has given us a new platform and an opportunity to meet a new community, and this event gives us exposure.”

This was the first Hampshire Fare event Adam Provis and Michael Atkinson of Wight Hat, based in Cowes, had attended since joining the food group towards the end of last year. They used it to roll out their new QCMS (Quality Chain Management System). This innovative new and cost-effective product provides traceability and logistics such as stock trading, customer ordering and delivery, and is tailored specifically to the needs of food producers. Working with Briddlesford Lodge Farm, Wooton Bridge, they have created the first working example of how the new management system operates. Adam said about the Expo: “This is where the food producers are so we are in the right place! Our product is aimed at larger food producers, and fills a gap in the market locally, nationally and internationally potentially.”

Jack Ptolomey, Challenge Packaging, said: “The hardest thing as a salesperson is getting in front of people and this event does just that, [especially as] Hampshire Fare has a such a diverse range of businesses within its membership.”

Sarah Hall Attah, Harvest Fine Foods, said: “There was an energy in the room. It was a nice venue and a well organised event with a couple of very good prospective customers and more details to follow up.”

James Yerkess, BankBrokers Merchant Services, Corporate Partners with Hampshire Fare added: “Today was all about community. Events like this help us come together and doing it at Southampton Football Club, which is at the heart of our community, is special.”

Toby Drought of Love 4 Local, Liss, commented: “The event has been about quality rather than quantity, but it’s good to network – it’s always worth the effort.”

Charlotte Tomson, First Stop Catering & Hygiene Supplies, Ringwood agreed: “The right people are coming in with orders at trade shows like this, and people are zooming in on our craft range as it is sustainable, recyclable and compostable. Everyone is interested as the end user, the customer, wants this; people want to do the right thing.”

Becci Alexander, Economic Development and Skills, Portsmouth City Council, explained that the Council were attending for two reasons: to find out what other authorities and organisations were doing in terms of business support, and to promote the Council’s Eat the Island brand, which itself grew out of a conversation at a Hampshire Fare network event at Portsmouth Distillery. Becci explained: “There is so much value in businesses having informal conversations to help each other.”

Natasha Dochniak concluded: “Feedback for this, our first Trade Expo, has been extremely positive, with people appreciative of the opportunity to showcase their businesses, and I am confident next year it will be even bigger and better!”