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lunch! 2016: The UK’s biggest food-to-go show returns to London next week

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The UK’s biggest and multi-award winning show for the food-to-go trade, lunch! returns to the Business Design Centre in London on 21-22 September 2016.

Annually attracting over 6,000 attendees, lunch! may need little introduction to the sector it serves. It’s frequently cited as a ‘must attend’ for discovering innovative new ideas and concepts, with Helen Higgins, head of food, at EAT. calling it “the destination show for our industry”.

Since its launch in 2008, lunch! has enjoyed significant year-on-year growth in attendance (and floor space). While its exhibitor numbers have now reached over 350 companies showcasing an eclectic mix of food, drink, packaging, catering equipment and technology.

New keynotes for 2016

High-profile brands – including Starbucks, LEON, bartlett mitchell, Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Welcome Break, EAT., Tossed, Benugo, and Rapide by Café Rouge, are all preparing to share their expertise in the show’s two Keynote Theatres next week.

From exclusive Keynotes and interviews, to research updates and panel discussions – each session has been tailored specifically to address key business opportunities (and challenges) for food-to-go operators. Speaker highlights for 2016 include:

– Wendy Bartlett MBE, Executive Chairman and founding owner of bartlett mitchell
– Sara Bruce Goodwin, VP research & development, quality & regulatory at Starbucks Coffee Company
– Caroline Cromar, group director of food, at Pret A Manger
– Rod McKie, CEO of Welcome Break
– Luke Johnson, chairman of private equity firm Risk Capital Partners
– John Kerslake, operations director at Costa Coffee
– Kirsty Saddler, brand director at LEON
– Rory McEntee, head of retail marketing at Benugo
– Andrew Stephen, CEO of The Sustainable Restaurant Association

As in previous years, lunch! organiser Diversified Communications UK will feature one of its ‘Big lunch! Interviewees’ in its official show guide. For 2016, Wendy Bartlett MBE, executive chairman of bartlett mitchell, spoke to Peter Martin, VP of CGA Peach, ahead of their Q&A session (on Wednesday 21 September). Here’s an extract, with Barlett outlining her thoughts on key trends to look out for in the food-to-go sector over the coming year:

“Key trends will be specialist ‘grab & go’ – like our new noodles concept,” says Bartlett. “Certainly there will be more focus on hot grab and go ideas, particularly for breakfast. This market is the biggest growth opportunity, especially when set at a good price point. At bartlett mitchell, we have developed concepts that reflect much more awareness of health benefits and nutritional content. For the Autumn, we are launching an even wider range of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free foods, as part of our DARE (Delicious And Responsible Eating programme).

“The recent success of two of our concepts – our single-source Fairtrade Perkee coffee and the Thirsty Planet water (which results in providing rural wells in Africa) has shown that people care about provenance and the ‘story’ and are willing to pay more to support them. We have seen a big increase in customers who want to ‘purchase with purpose’. However, it must be authentic, there needs to be proof and the results need to be shared, which is part of our transparent and authentic responsible business story.

“We have also recently joined a specialist cup recycling scheme following the media coverage that most disposable cups placed in recycling bins are going to landfill. This is another example of sustainable movements, which we believe are set to increase.

“One of the biggest trends is also how food is paid for, particularly the move to electronic payment, use of smart cards and mobile payment. It was a slow burn and has just taken off in the last year with a boom. Using this easy payment technology has increased sales by 20% and mobile apps with pre-ordering and loyalty rewards has driven customer enthusiasm and sales.”

“Providing excellent ‘grab & go’ is an integral part of our offer,” she concludes. “Customers are generally time poor and need easy, nutritious solutions. A key factor is making sure that you listen to your customers and get the right feedback. Measure what is successful and use the till results to make informed decisions. It’s not a complicated process to know your market; ‘grab & go’ is about making it a simple transaction.”

Previously confirmed Keynote speakers also include Vincent McKevitt, founder and MD of Tossed; David Leeper, head of coffee at FCB Artisan Espresso Bars; Steve Richards, CEO of The Casual Dining Group, who oversaw the launch of Rapide by their Café Rouge brand; award winning restaurant designer Afroditi Krassa; Simon Stenning, executive director of MCA, Emma Read, Horizons’ director of marketing & business development; Cyril Lavenant, NPD Group’s director of foodservice for the UK; Mark McCulloch, founder and CEO of WE ARE Spectacular; and Beth Taubner, founder of Mercurylab NY and London.

This year’s programme also includes two information-packed panel sessions. The first features award-winning operators Shane Kavanagh, CEO of Crushh Fit Food & Juice Bars (and former MD of Benugo), Josh Kettle, MD of ShakeTastic, and Oli Wilson Fish, operations director of Juicafe. They’ll be sharing their strategies on how to compete and thrive as an independent juice, smoothie or shake bar on a high street full of global brands.

‘Increasing profits’ – a hot topic for many café operators, is the focus for lunch!’s second group of panellists. Among them are Jay Morjaria, founder of Sutra Kitchen, and Alex Stone from Trade in London’s Commercial Street. Morjaria is head of the food and beverage operations for the FARM Shop in Dalston, and, earlier this year, he helped launch Noa, a grab and go vegetarian restaurant in London’s Baker St. While Stone, together with Frank Boltman, has helped win TRADE two Platinum Sammies Awards for the last two years running (it also won a Gold Award in 2014).

“lunch! really is the only trade show I go to, as I find so many interesting and relevant exhibitors,” says Stone.

lunch! returns to Business Design Centre in Islington, London, on Wednesday and Thursday, 21-22 September 2016. To register for a free trade pass, please visit and quote priority code LUN10 (direct link:

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