A major event that provides a shop window for food and drink producers is defying the economic downturn with a bumper 120 trade stands – over 40% up on last year.
More than 1,000 products will be on show at the two-day Harlech Foodservice Expo that gets underway at Venue Cymru in Llandudno on St David’s Day.
It’s a highlight in the calendar for the high profile food wholesaler which celebrated its 50th birthday last year and which supplies everything from restaurants and cafes to Premiership giants.
Many of the exhibitors will be doing their own live cookery demonstrations and there will be opportunities to taste the products on offer.
The event is free to people in the trade but isn’t open to the public.
The aim is to enable suppliers to talk directly to the customer, giving them a chance to tell the story behind their product to representatives from the tourism, leisure, education and health sectors across North Wales, the North West and the Midlands.
Harlech Foodservice, which has bases in Criccieth in Gwynedd and Chester, is hoping to break last year’s record-breaking total of more than £500,000 of deals being secured.
There will also be plenty of tasting opportunities for customers especially at Harlech’s own stand Caernarfon’s BBQ maestro Chris ‘Flamebaster’ Roberts will be the special guest.
The star of S4C’s Bwyd Epic Chris will join Harlech’s Executive Chef Steve Roberts, from Welshpool, at the 44th Expo and bring his own unique style to the event.
Chris said: “It’s my first time at the Expo and I’m really looking forward to it and to championing the fantastic Welsh produce that will be on show there which is something I’m really passionate about.
“The farmers, producers and butchers of Wales and all the other people who make our produce so amazing are my superheroes and I want us to celebrate them and their epic food.”
Matt Flynn, Harlech’s Head of Purchasing, said: “We are expecting over 2,500 to attend and there will be over 1,000 products on show.
“Last year was fantastic but I am expecting us to smash it this year.
“Most of the suppliers I’ve spoken to said it was the best show they attended and this year’s is going to be even bigger and better and as soon as you walk in it will be busy and there will be a great atmosphere.”
Many of the biggest names in the food and catering industry will be at the Expo, including international giants like Unilever, Wall’s, McCain, Young’s Seafood, Birds Eye, Chicago Town, Tropicana and PepsiCo.
But Wales will be well represented too with major North Wales brands like Jones Village Bakery, Snowdonia Cheese, Edwards the Welsh Butcher, Radnor Hills and Tŷ Nant mineral water, Aber Falls, Snowdon Lager and Llaeth y Llan Village Dairy.
Once again there is interest from across the border as the company, extend its reach into the North West and the Midlands after winning important new contracts with public and private sector customers.
Food and drink are the major components of the event but there will also be an increased presence for suppliers of cleaning, accountancy and other ancillary services.
Matt added: “Each stand will be manned by experts and customers can talk to them about their products and there will be plenty of big offers available so it’s a great opportunity for people to come along and stock up at a big discount ready for the new season.
“There will also be a big emphasis on Welsh produce and products and we will have Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales there and our own big butchery stand which was our most successful revenue generator last year.
“Customers attending this year will be given order books with details of the offers and I’m looking forward to that making things easier for them and increasing orders and sales.
“We are also launching a website in mid-February which will enable businesses to see every supplier and what their products and offers are so they can check them out ahead of the Expo and see what they want to taste, sample and talk about.
“Anyone who can’t attend or simply don’t have time will be able to place their orders by calling our dedicated sales team.
“It’s a really important event for all concerned and we are proud to be at the fore of driving it forward.”
Harlech also offer increased flexibility for customers who can order up to 10pm every night for next day delivery, up to seven days a week.
The two-day event is aimed at trade customers and is not open to the general public. To register for the Expo, traders and businesses should head to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/united-kingdom–denbighshire/harlech-foodservice/
Harlech Foodservice Ltd employs 200 staff at its bases at Criccieth and Chester and between the two locations, the company runs a fleet of vehicles to deliver 5,000 product lines to cafés, restaurants, pubs and public sector customers across North and Mid-Wales, Shropshire, the Midlands and the North West.