Those of you in the know will know that 25th March saw the closing of the IFE 2015 at Excel London and yes, like Vanessa Williams so delightfully sang “you went and saved the best for last”

As a foodie and a hoarder I’m a fan of visiting places on the closing days, why…because that’s the last hurrah. Most people can’t be bothered to lug back crates of product so I guess it would only be right for me to swoop in take all the stuff you don’t want to carry off your hands…I know, good Samaritan, right?!

There were hundreds of global stores across 2 areas providing consumers and seasoned trade folk with both failsafe and innovative food and drink creations and I jumped in for a piece of the action, I also painstakingly tried every bit of food and drink thrown my way in order to give you the lowdown on some of my IFE faves.

 

Going Nuts for the H2c0co…

Coconut Water has jumped from relative obscurity to a health-drink powerhouse in the last seven years, going from close to $0 in sales in 2004 to over $400 million in 2013. (Yahoo Finance Online, Sep 2014)

So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that Coconut Water is one of the go to drinks for health enthusiasts and fad followers alike. Labelled as the new alternative to plain ol’ H2O, Coconut Water is not only high in, Magnesium and Vitamin C, it’s relatively low in calories, virtually fat free and does your washing and ironing on Sunday…no, I’m kidding about the last bit, obviously, but it does a lot of what it says on the tin including replenish and re-hydrate. And, what’s more, coconut water is famed for its high levels of potassium (190mg to 250mg per 100ml), which is a vital mineral that keeps the brain, nerves, heart and muscles in shape…” (Huffington Post Online, July 2014) so no more stuffing your face with bananas. But, is the coco all it’s cracked up to be?

While soda and non-fresh juice sales are slipping, sales of all waters (including fitness and plant-based waters) have grown 7% since 2013 and produce section beverages have jumped 13% since 2013. (Nielsen, 2013)

I tried CHI 100% NATURAL CHOCOLATE COCONUT MILK at IFE and must say I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. I find coconut water drinks are either plain nasty, too watery and generally smell a lot better than they taste but CHI drinks manage to capture the flavour without being overbearing and it is diary free so great for the lactose intolerant among us or people who just want a break from milk based products. Our Ops girl Nadine tried the 100% NATURAL COCONUT WATER & MANGO quoting “Smooth, no bits (which I prefer) and not overpowered by mango” no one likes an overpowering Mango… so CHI gets the thumbs up!

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CHI Coconut Water retails at a selection of stocklists including; Waitrose, Tesco, Harrods, Planet Organic, Fortnum and Mason and Whole Foods, they also have a canny looking website http://chidrinks.co/ so go and check them out!

Speaking of trends, while we’re all over here flying the flag for the Coconut Water massive, we completely missed Jack (in Marketing) seriously touting Maple Water as the new “thing” (and he knows his stuff). Stay tuned for more on that.

1 of my 5 a day…

I hopped on over to the Belvoir Fruit Farms stall to try out their extended range of presses. The stall was bustling with genuine lovers of the brand and freebie grabbers alike (one could construe that those people are one in the same) nonetheless, I managed to get my hands on MANGO AND PEACH, ELDERFLOWER AND RASPBERRY PRESSÉ.

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Their single serving pressés are made with real fruit juice and is expertly blended with sparkling Belvoir spring water (hence the name) and to boot, they’re made from all-natural ingredients and contain nothing artificial and they taste pretty darn good if you ask me!

Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks are stocked not only in the UK but in 28 countries worldwide, but if you want to find your local stocklist head on over to their website http://www.belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk/our-drinks/where-to-buy/

 

Some Like It Hot…

I don’t know about you, but I love a bit of spice in my food. Most things I cook tend to have a scotch bonnet thrown in just for good measure (it’s the Jamaican in me) so when I came across Bim’s Kitchen I was pleasantly surprised. Started by Nicola and James (Bim) Adedeji, they brought the taste of Nigeria to Wales using ingredients such as alligator pepper, baobab fruit and tamarind to name but a few, to transform boring condiments into extraordinary compliments for your food.

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From China to the Caribbean, people have a taste for spicy food. Whether we’re throwing it into a stir-fry or smothering it onto grilled chicken…or grilled veg if you’re a veggie, chilli peppers are as much a staple in our cupboards as salt and pepper. With an increase of foreign spices in the way of Korean Kimchi flavoured noodles and Japanese Wasabi paste in chocolate cakes (yes it’s a thing, just ask Wagamama) spices are creeping their way into everyday foods.

A study in the Food Quality and Preference Journal states that your preference for spice points to key gender differences. Women are more attracted to the burn (the spicy feel at the back of your throat) whereas men should be able to withstand the heat of chilli due to the social rewards they gain. (Food Quality and Preference Journal, 2012) and back in December French researchers controversially claimed that men with a taste for spicy food have higher testosterone levels, and that eating hot peppers may raise levels of the “alpha male” hormone.  (Telegraph online, Dec 2014)

For some rather interesting recipes, and stockists visit http://bimskitchen.com/contact-us/

A nice cold beer…

To end the roundup of this year’s IFE faves, I visited the Freddie’s Fruit Lager Stand

The product claims it’s specially brewed in order to reduce the ‘lagery, hoppy taste’ and it ‘bridges the gap between sweet cider and mainstream lager’ and I have to say, it’s true. It does everything it says, it tastes good, I can’t knock it and I’d be likely to purchase over others of its kind.

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They currently stock two flavours Mango and Wild Berries with more in the pipeline. We decided it was due to the remarkably non lager tasting factor that it was such a hit in the office and it makes a great alternative to chugging down a pint of the usual.

23% of Millennial beer drinkers see a ‘unique or different flavour e.g. fruit’ as a key choice factor when buying beer, compared to 16% of total UK adult (Mintel, March 2014)

8/10 cats hanging around our marketing department said they preferred Freddie’s to other drinks of its type (larger / cider / general alcoholic fruit beverages) (Freddie’s vs. Crabbies, Kopparberg & Rekorderlig).

Clearly, some people were much better prepared for the various food and drinks that were on display but as every good foodie knows it’s not what you know, it is how much you can stuff into your face without looking beastly and how to casually cart around a suitcase at a food and drink expo.  The IFE is a great place to sell your brand, if you have the right tools but I will most definitely be attending next year to see what new tricks the old dogs have and what other new and innovative products are about to hit the markets!

Author – Natasha Miller – Executive Assistant

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