Friday 19 July 2024
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Lunch! 2016 wows food-to-go sector

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The UK’s appetite for food-to-go has never been bigger and it’s still growing. That’s the message from lunch! 2016, which welcomed 6,204 key buyers and decision makers from across the food-to-go sector to its 9th annual edition last week, on 21-22 September.

The multi-award winning show bid farewell to its Business Design Centre venue in style, with its biggest event yet securing another record turnout. Many of the UK’s biggest food-to-go operators, food retailers, and contract caterers, plus thousands of independent and multiple cafés, coffee shops and sandwich shops were in attendance.

Among them were well-known brands such as Abokado, AMT Coffee, Aramark, Asda, BaxterStorey, Boots, BP, Compass Group, Co-op, Costa Coffee, Debenhams, EAT, Elior UK, FCB – Artisan Espresso Bars, Gate Gourmet, Gate Retail Onboard, Greggs, Hilton, IKEA, ISS UK, itsu, KFC, Krispy Kreme, LEON, LSG Sky Chefs, Marks & Spencer, Merlin Entertainments, Morrisons, Norwegian Airlines, P&O Ferries, Patisserie Valerie, POD, Pret a Manger, Rail Gourmet, Sainsbury’s, SPAR, SSP, Starbucks, Subway, Superdrug, Tesco, Tortilla, Tossed, Virgin Trains, Waitrose, Wasabi, and WH Smith.

“I find every visit to lunch! hugely valuable, as it really is the key event for our industry. The special 10th anniversary lunch! at ExCeL London will be particularly exciting for buyers in the sector,” says Caroline Cromar, director of food at Pret a Manger.

“lunch! is the unmissable event for the food-to-go sector and the decision to move to ExCeL is incredibly exciting. The move will give the show the chance to grow and for buyers to do business with even more innovative exhibitors,” says Angelina Harrisson, food & commercial director at Tossed.

“I definitely see lunch! as a must attend for those working in the FOTG sector. We’ll be back next year and look forward to seeing how it grows and develops at ExCeL,” says David Ross, head of category at Greggs.

“lunch! is the one show not to be missed, with so many passionate and innovative exhibitors. Moving to ExCeL London can only take the show to another level,” says Kevin Price, catering operations manager at Drayton Manor Park.

Save the date for ExCeL London

The move to ExCeL marks an exciting new development for the show, which is widely regarded as the premier event for the UK’s hugely competitive £20.2bn food-to-go market (across all day parts).

The only dedicated show for the sector, it has helped to launch thousands of new brands and products to market since 2008. From cafés, coffee shops and sandwich shops to supermarket meal deals and travel catering, lunch! and its eclectic mix of exhibitors have been influencing ‘on the go’ menus across the UK for years.

“We are delighted to have just had our best ever lunch! show – with the highest number of visitors and exhibitors we’ve ever seen. lunch! is the two days a year that the food-to-go sector gets together, and the support from the industry this year, as always, has been phenomenal,” says group event director Chris Brazier.

“It’s a testament to the show’s continuing success that we’ve seen unparalleled demand for exhibition space this year, with a record onsite rebook and many 2016 exhibitors preparing to take bigger stands.

The move to ExCeL – for lunch!’s tenth anniversary edition next year – has generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm and is hugely encouraging for the future growth of this vibrant sector and, of course, lunch! itself – the only show targeted, focused and dedicated to serving it.

“Huge thanks, as always, must go to all our exhibitors, visitors, media and association partners, who we know are as excited about the move to our new home at ExCeL as we are,” he says.

Innovation Challenge Awards – results

Designed to promote and celebrate new ideas in the market place, the prestigious Innovation Challenge Awards, attracted over 60 entrants this year.

The 16 short-listed finalists, decided by popular vote at the Innovation Challenge Gallery on lunch!’s opening day, were invited to pitch their new innovations to a panel of industry judges on Wednesday 21 September.

This year’s five judges included Angelina Harrisson, food and commercial director at Tossed; Martin Hambleton, head of procurement at En Route International; Louise Direito, global senior food & beverage innovation manager at Costa Coffee; Sandy Anderson, senior buyer at Elior; and Neville Moon, owner of The Food Innovation Consultancy, who called lunch! 2016 an “excellent source of inspiration” and “genuine innovation”.

The following companies received Innovation Challenge Awards at lunch! 2016:


  • Freaks of Nature: Freaks of Nature
  • Karma Cola UK: Karma Cola
  • MOJU: MOJU Boosters
  • ZENDO Calm + Focus: ZENDO Calm + Focus

“To win Gold in the Innovation Challenge is huge for us, particularly as we are a small team trying to make big things happen. The quality of exhibitors and the range of buyers you meet at lunch! is excellent. As an emerging brand, investment in well-run and attended trade shows is critical – and lunch! didn’t let us down,” says Rich Goldsmith, co-founder of MOJU.

“lunch! 2016 was our first trade show and what a great way to launch the Freaks of Nature brand! To win a coveted Innovation Challenge Gold Award was amazing. Thanks to everyone who voted for us,” says Peter Ahye, founder of Freaks of Nature.

“It is an incredible honour and a real recognition to be named a Gold finalist among 64 innovative products.

The UK, and London in particular, is a market that has always attracted us and we hope that such award will open doors for ZENDO Calm + Focus. We would also thank the lunch! team, who have done tremendous work for this successful 9th edition,” says Laurent Karim, co-founder & COO of ZENDO Calm + Focus.

“We’re delighted that the judges and visitors share our belief that what you drink should not only taste and look good, but do good too,” says Samuel Chote, head of sales at Karma Cola UK.


  • Booja-Booja: Booja-Booja Dairy Free Ice Cream
  • Huggg: Huggg
  • MiiRO: MiiRO Chocolate Coated Ice Lolly
  • Mr Lee’s Noodles: Hong Kong Street Beef
  • Tri-Star Packaging Supplies: PortaTray™


  • ButterflyCup: ButterflyCup
  • Dragonfly Foods: Dragonfly Tofupot – Moroccan Tagine
  • eXpresso PLUS: LavAzza Eleganza
  • Florette UK & Ireland: Florette Tasty & Balanced
  • NutriPot: NutriPot
  • Upwards: Gluten Free Calzone
  • Whitworths Shots: Cayenne Chilli Flaxseed Crisps

Keynote highlights

Alongside the show’s bustling three-floor exhibition, the two lunch! Keynote Theatres were a hive of activity throughout. Powerful Keynotes – led by a stellar line-up of innovative industry names, including Ian Cranna (Starbucks EMEA), Rod McKie (Welcome Break), Kirsty Saddler (LEON), Rory McEntee (Benugo), and Vincent McKevitt (Tossed), addressed key business opportunities (and challenges) for food-to-go operators.

As in previous years, Simon Stenning (MCA), Emma Read (Horizons), and Cyril Lavenant (NPD Group) delivered essential food-to-go market updates and overviews of the latest trends to watch.

While exclusive interview sessions with Wendy Bartlett MBE (bartlett mitchell), Luke Johnson (Risk Capital Partners), Steve Richards (The Casual Dining Group/Rapide by Café Rouge), and Caroline Cromar (Pret), hosted by CGA Peach’s Peter Martin and Propel’s Paul Charity, sparked plenty of insightful debate.

“lunch! 2016 was a hugely enjoyable show, packed with exciting products and seminars. The 2017 show at ExCeL London is going to be fantastic!” says Rory McEntee, head of retail marketing at Benugo.

lunch! will take place at the new venue of ExCeL London on 21-22 September 2017. For further information, please visit

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