Cooking up business as IFEX 2018 opens

Sean Owens, director of the Salon Culinaire on the opening day of IFEX with Jean Christophe Novelli and edible art judge David Close
Sean Owens, director of the Salon Culinaire on the opening day of IFEX with Jean Christophe Novelli and edible art judge David Close

Northern Ireland’s largest international food, drink, retail and hospitality exhibition is set to welcome thousands of trade visitors as IFEX 2018 got underway on Tuesday.

Featuring some of the country’s biggest food companies, manufacturers, distributors and artisan producers, the event runs until Thursday.

The event has almost doubled in size with the addition of sister event - Meat@IFEX, which has welcomed more than 500 international delegates from across 12 countries, who will be competing in the World Butchers’ Challenge over the next two days.

Multi-Michelin star award-winning chef, Jean Christophe Novelli, officially opened the show and met some of the 150 plus exhibitors who are attending the event to generate new business and contacts.

“The foodservice and hospitality sectors are vitally important to Northern Ireland’s economy,” said event manager Caroline McCusker.

“To see the vibrancy and level of business being done here today is really positive.

“From large foodservice businesses to speciality suppliers in the Great Taste Market, IFEX is helping to generate business for exhibitors and visitors alike, and I hope that the buoyancy evident today will continue on days two and three of the event and so deliver for the foodservice and hospitality businesses in the months and years ahead.

“Based on today’s footfall, exhibitors are set to have a busy few days ahead.”

The show is already set to have a positive impact on tourism as the butchery team from New Zealand taking part in the World Butchers’ Challenge has been filmed prior to the event visiting tourist sites and artisan food producers for a programme to be broadcast to the home audience.