London Produce Show & Conference


The supply chain from seed to plate ...

We're just days away from this year's London Produce Show. If you've never been before, then you are in for a treat; here's a recap of last year's excellent event and a taster of what to expect at this year's show.

The Grosvenor House hotel in London's Mayfair provided a sumptuous backdrop to this wonderful celebration and conference of the entire food supply chain. With 130 stands of produce from all over the world, it's no wonder so many buyers from the big five supermarkets make a point of visiting the show.

Deep breath...  here we go!

Before lift-off, we were treated to a lavish cocktail party and reception the night before the first day of the conference and show. Hosted by Stubbins Food Partnership, delegates and guests were treated to canapes, cocktails and all things delicious that would delight any A-lister. 

A wide range of cuts and types of beef

Students from Westminster Kingsway demonstrated their canapé skills

smiles front of house and in the kitchen too!

Thoroughly partied out and following a breakfast the morning after, a keynote speech was given. Trumpeters in full livery sounded a fanfare to kick off the event

 Elizabeth Dibble, Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in London gave a speech that created quite the media buzz

Ribbon cutting with Jeremy Pang - not in his chef's whites

The Mudwalls poster girl greeted us with a smile and some suitable fruitiness

With so much to see and do, we really appreciated the clearly signposted demonstrations, seminars, masterclasses and announcements throughout the day


We were intrigued by a cluster of people gravitating around a rather excellent product called "Plant Tape". Acquired by Tanimura & Antle - they chose the London produce show to debut this plant transportation system. We thought Plant Tape was a brilliant idea - its advantages include reduced labour costs and water conservation - it promises to revolutionise the industry, as seedlings are transplanted into the field via biodegradable strips -  using a staggering 97% less peat.

Some less familiar produce for the UK included Sour Sop, brought to us by Ashanti Wholesalers. The advice from the experts was to make sure they are soft, with white flesh inside and seeds the size of small olives, the show was a chance to discover produce we wouldn't ordinarily see on the high street.
Soursop fruit has the flavour of a creamy strawberry and a pineapple tartness

Mangosteen, is not a Jewish mango but tastes like strawberries, peach and vanilla ice cream...make sure the fruit is soft enough "to give" when squeezed, cut the skin around it's waist, it should crack open when the segments but the largest segment may have a seed. Don't be afraid of this wonderful fruit grown in Indonesia, South West India, Puerto Rico and Florida.
a Mangosteen, not a Jewish Mango!
Mexican Jicama - pronounced "hickama" tastes like an unsweetened apple or water chestnut which can be eaten raw or cooked...sprinkle with lime juice for an authentic effect. This juicy root vegetable makes a low calorie, low carb alternative to the potato.

Jicama on the Left is actually a legume i.e. a bean
Kumquats are baby oranges which have a very lemony centre, eat them like a whole grape, the rind is edible and sweet. They are given as gifts in the Far East in the New Year and on auspicious days. The Longan is very similar to the Lychee fruit in flavour and texture, that is, somewhat like sweet perfumed muscadet grapes. The literal translation is from the Chinese "dragon's eye" which refers to the very dark shiny pip resembling a pupil.
 Messy haired Rambutan, orange Kumquats, Longans and Dragon Fruit

Yellow Passion Fruit
More familiar avocado friends sporting this seasons must have accessories from Promega UK
Really, who would ever want to build a wall excluding these cute little critters. 

We were given an insight into some high tech devices that the general public may not be aware of  - but that have become integral to the global produce business. These data-loggers are specialist monitoring equipment to measure temperature and humidity which are are critical part of the transport part of the supply chain - particularly for cold produce.

Somewhat more low tech but still effective are these cardboard fold yourself spoons presented by Plastico / Ecotensil inspired by the need for Prisons to provide utensils that cannot be used to harm.

Laser Mark is a labelling system which removes a tiny area of fruit surface without affecting the fruit itself, by spraying on a contrast liquid before laser marking. This removes the need for the ink, paper and sticky residue used in traditional labelling methods and opens up the fruit or vegetable's surface itself for  brand identification and traceability stock management. We think Laser Mark ticks a lot of boxes - it's innovative, fun and environmentally friendly. 

Vegetable tattoos!

A wide range of seminars were available throughout the day, experts like Jeff Jackson - usually based in Australia, presented his view of the future of retail pathways and the essential strategies for survival.

Westlands Nurseries are a family run nursery specialising in micro leaf and edible flowers using cutting edge technology, not just decorative and visually striking but also a treat for the palate with some unique flavours.
Apple Blossom not just decorative but tastes of sharp apples
Edible British Flowers

The "Chefs Forum" state of the art Demo Stage organised by Catherine Farinha, featured Nikkei cuisine (Japanese Peruvian fusion) demonstrations by the "Nikkei boys" Jordan Sclare and Michael Paul from Chotto Matte restaurant. They shared their Fish Market Salad and Beef Tataki recipes. They first met at Thames Valley University when in their teens, so they made a great double act as they know each other so well. 
Sweetcorn's larger cousin is a bean flown from Peru says Jordan

Not sweetcorn but a Choclo, traditionally eaten with cheese sauce

Chargrilled corn maintains raw sweetness and adds texture
Miyoga flown in from Japan is a ginger bud used in a similar way to shallots

Be extra careful with this Peruvian pepper (from the"aji" family) with black seeds, it's very hot!
Don't mistake it for a tomato or you'll be sorry!

We learned that a sashimi knife is longer and the angle of the blade differs to a standard knife, with the blade only on one side - the longer blade allows for a single slicing action.

The Nikkei Boys showed us their salting technique: (with the salt not touching the fish)

Salt the tray then place greaseproof paper on top so the salt does not touch the fish but penetrates through the paper
To be clingfilmed - salt dries out the fish, and stops bacteria

Another layer of paper is added on top of the fish before the marinade

 The finished ceviche
Fish Market Salad Salmon and Yellow tail

Beef Tataki

The uber impressive line-up at the Produce Show included Gareth Bowen, executive chef at Gillrays County Hall who along with Matt Budden from Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel have set up an apprenticeship scheme for trainee chefs.

Matt explained that foraged coastal ingredients such as samphire (AKA sea asparagus) go especially well with the earthiness of lamb, sea beet and monks beard were also back in fashion.
Gareth Bowen says mmm

Jeremy Pang from The School of Wok transformed a seminar setting into a dining room with smart and efficient uniformed helpers serving and pouring for us
rearranged seating from seminar to dining room
Jeremy expanded our Chinese vegetable knowledge with specimens such as "tong ho" and "tatsoi" which won Waitrose produce of the year from Rokewood Vegetables. He communicated
a variety of memory techniques such as "Dark Knight Rising" turns to "Gold Ingot"  which made the shape forming of dumplings child's play!

Pang's prawn parcels
A surprise celebrity in Jeremy's audience was British International High Jumper Mike Edwards who shared his love for bananas and plantain; Jeremy uses them in his desserts and Mike explained their important nutrition contribution to his training programme.

After hearing that Mike packs in up to 8 BanaBay bananas a day we nipped to their stand and investigated, we wanted to experience the food of champions too!

Mike Edwards is powered by bananas and Jeremy cooks their cousin

We were offered a red banana to take home and ripen

The Produce Show certainly does it's bit for charity and worthy causes.
Lovi sweets were at the show to raise awareness for SeeAbility's "Children in Focus" Charity

various eye experiences and tests stood alongside California Raisins

Community Shop, is the UK's first social supermarket - taking the leftover produce from the show to sell to it's members

We particularly enjoyed this luxuriously packaged organic extra virgin olive oil which comes from Laconia in Southern Greece - the motto of this Golden Liquid from ProAgro is "Let Nature Breathe" Now doesn't that sound  refreshing  after a long day?

In the evening we were honoured to be invited to the London Premiere for the recommended and excellent documentary "Fear No Fruit" at the stylish "One Aldwych"

But not before Canapés!!

Fear No Fruit was an inspirational must see, don't expect car chases but instead, an uplifting documentary about Frieda Caplan, a female pioneer from the 1960's who defied the odds in a "Madmen" man's world. She successfully broke into the L.A. wholesale produce business and introduced over 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to the world -  transforming our palates and plates with her dynamism and vitality, she's the "Kiwi Queen" (all will be revealed), the Mick Jagger of the produce world, surely it must be the magic of the fruit and veg that does it?
Frieda Caplan aged 91 and still hard at work at the office

In closing we would simply say that The Produce Show gets the Ambassadors of Food highest recommendation and we wholeheartedly recommend a visit. If you are thinking of attending this year's show - don't hesitate to book your ticket  right away for London's premier networking, learning, and conferencing event for all aspects of the produce industry. 

We loved it.  

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