Lunch! & Casual Dining Show edition

Lunch! & Casual Dining Show edition

The team have been at Lunch! & Casual Dining Show at Excel discovering all the latest product innovation, challenger brands, and trends shaping the food and drink industry.

The show was a-buzz with a feast of new ideas from functional drinks to vegan chocolate to a very convincing ham alternative – we promise you’re going to be left feeling peckish! So, grab a kombucha and enjoy our easy to digest insights.

Our top four takeaways from the show:

OHMG's magnesium water.

Relaxation. Canned. OHMG’s magnesium water.

1. Functional tipples 

From Kombucha to Kefir, magnesium to real cola nuts, cans to re-usable aluminium bottles, the innovation in the non-alcoholic drinks sector is nothing short of staggering. Everywhere you turned at Lunch! there were drinks to make you more energised, more relaxed, promote your gut health, and they all tasted damn good.

For too long the fizzy drink giants have ruled the drinks aisle, well not anymore. Consumers are demanding more from their drinks – clean labelling, natural ingredients, health benefits and all while delivering on great taste, which means not too sweet and with no hidden nasties.

Brands we particularly enjoyed sipping at the show included: Agua di Madre, a naturally sparkling water kefir; Selfish, a gut friendly soda; OHMG, a great name for a relaxation drink where there’s 60mg of Magnesium in every can, and Karma Cola, made with real cola nuts with 1% of all revenue generated going to cola nut growers. Shout out to the guys at Square Root Soda who are a long-time favourite at Sharp HQ!

Freddie's Farm Founders.

Proud to be different, Freddie’s Farm.

2. Snacks to Help you get your Five a Day


Getting your five a day (or is it in fact 10 a day we should be getting?!), often just feels difficult. But the good news is that there are plenty of brilliantly innovative brands putting fruit centre stage and helping us to enjoy being a bit healthier.

Our friends at Freddie’s Farm are deservedly enjoying a meteoric rise for their healthy fruit snacks for kids with their recent launch onto Tesco shelves.

Froosh, a smoothie brand from Sweden that’s enjoying its first outing in the UK, is packed in cardboard cartons, so easily recyclable. These tasted beautiful, fruit forward and clean.

Zombie fruit leatherz, these guys had some wicked stand out branding and we predict they’ll be a Halloween hit!

OGGS, egg alternative.

OGGS® were serving-up some incredible cocktails!

3. Plant-based alternatives that taste like their animal-based counterparts


Over at Casual Dining, plant-based brands were prominent. While the category has been suffering from rationalisation and we’ve seen the demise of several brands in recent months, it’s still very much alive and kicking.

There are some stand out brands who are making the plant-based sector taste the best it ever has.

La Vie
Rustling up some veggie based meat alternatives.

La Vie, who have been grabbing the headlines with their happy-clappy launch of their new plant-based ham product and have just announced that they have hit their fundraising target are a great example. We were chomping at the bit to try some. It was good.

Maybe you could tell it wasn’t actual ham by looking at it, but the taste and mouthfeel were incredible, and honestly if someone handed me a sandwich with it in, I wouldn’t have known. We were too late for a ham roll, they’d all been finished for the day, so our fellow show-goers obviously agreed!

Is a game-changer.

It was fun to see the team at VFC who, having recently acquired Meatless Farm, are the global megastars of the vegan world. But for us it was THIS who were a shining star of the Meat Alternative offering, winning on innovation (their new chicken alt is insanely lifelike, and sheer friendliness!

As good as you’ve always known them.

Big shout out to our pals at OGGS – loving the cocktails made with aquafaba and don’t get us started on their breakfast wraps!

Passion isn’t the only thing that makes these products great.

Shicken had a very tasty chef-made tikka masala ready meal. This family-run business serving up tasty meals and kebabs had a continuous stream of show-goers queueing up.

Otherly vegan chocolate.

Out of this world vegan chocolate from Otherly.

4. Vegan Chocolates


We’re pleased to report that vegan chocolate was also big – and these brands are fun, fun, fun.

Love RAW
Mouth-watering vegan chocolate that tastes like chocolate chocolate!

LoveRAW were sampling their bueno equivalent and Waferina, their chocolate bar mascot that looks like it jumped right off the set of Grease the movie’s drive-in film scene, was spotted posing for photos.

There’s normal and then there’s the other side of the tracks.

We also loved Otherly, an Edinburgh-based vegan chocolate brand with its standout arty packaging, reminiscent of Tiny Rebel brewery. Their sea salt variety was ‘out of this world’!

Peanut butter like no other.

We were also nuts about the latest smooth and crunchy vegan peanut butters from the brilliant team at Manilife.

Safe to say, we went home with a full tote bag brimming with goodies that we’re looking forward to tucking into.

If you loved this, then please do read all the latest news from Sharp HQ here.  We exist to help the ‘good’ brands to grow.

You’re welcome to book a call with one of our team to find out more.


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