Sam Beeny at the SHARP stand at IFE & HRC 2024 speaking with someone.

The Best Bits from IFE & HRC 2024

It’s trade show season and this special bumper show edition of SHARP Bites is here, to get your teeth into!

Each month, our team saves you time by collating the latest trends and insights from the hottest topics in the world of food and drink.

The SHARP team has been out and about, manning our first ever stand at IFE & HRC 2024, having some brilliant conversations, sampling delicious food and drink and spotting stand-out brands and innovations. We also attended the Bread & Jam Foodservice Summit last month.

Here’s your snackable round-up of insights and trends from the shows. 

IFE & HRC 2024

Disruptive forces in Food & Beverage

Charles Banks, co-founder of The Food People, delivered a brilliantly insightful presentation taking us through the headlines of what’s driving change in the food and drink world. 

The 4th Industrial Revolution is all about intelligence – we’re all hungry for data!  It’s going to be driven by two key factors: The Environment and Human Health. He outlined some important driving forces disrupting the F&B industry:

AI – machine learning, natural language processing eg ChatGPT, computer vision and robotics, will all improve cost and efficiency eg. Cutting time for NPD, recipe development and devising new flavour combos.

Cellular animal protein – the rise of lab grown meat.

More appeal to Gen Z – adoption by younger generations encourages trial by Gen X.

The Protein landscape – continues to get more complex e.g. air protein has been pioneered by NASA.

‘Regenerate’ replacing ‘sustainable’ i.e. a circular approach to our food chain which will need explaining via PR and storytelling.

Regenerative collabs – we’re seeing more regenerative collabs to create end-to-end supply chains. Brands doing this well include, Climate Crunch Cereal; Down to Earth potatoes; and The Wild Hare meals.

Human health – consumers are leveraging nutrition for BETTER optimised living.

Bio hacking – the practice of employing methods drawn from fields like biology, genetics, neuroscience, and nutrition to enhance physical or mental performance, improve overall health and well-being, or achieve a specific health outcome e.g. weight management. Good examples include, eating for your life stage; health for all, regardless of budget e.g. blue zones – decoding factors such as communities and populations in certain locations living longer according to their diet and lifestyle e.g. plant-based diets, tea consumption, beans, walking.

Smart plants 🌱- molecular farming or making plants protein factories; gene editing to change flavour; colour; or nutritional content.

Ultra Processed Foods & hyper palatable foods – will continue to gain momentum. The solution is better processing. 

Women in the Food Industry

Women in Food Industry’s Co-Founder, Mex Ibrahim, shared some alarming statistics, highlighting insane levels of inequality for female founded businesses. Mex said: “For every £1 invested in UK businesses, 85p goes to Male Founded businesses and just 2p goes to Female Founded Businesses”. 

The ‘Women in the Food Industry’ panel also included Bethan Thomas from HotTeamMama, Saskia Roskam from The Biskery and Anna Chalov from Bemuse Drinks.

The panel was very well attended with barely an empty chair, however a question from the audience highlighted that in the 40-50 people watching, there were only 5 men present, who were applauded for their support. Female Founders need men to not just join the conversation but help to implement the changes so desperately needed.


Jason Perrott from Ro-Gro demonstrating his new vitamin B12 biofortified pea shoots.

Ro-Gro’s biofortified pea shoots with added Vitamin B12

A brilliant example of the current trend for more functional foods, in an industry first, vertical farm and SHARP client Ro-Gro has cultivated biofortified pea shoots with added Vitamin B12, available to retailers and hospitality.

Great to catch up with Jason Perrott from Ro-Gro who launched his innovative new pea shoots at the show.

How Novo Farina is increasing the appetite for pea protein

From pea shoots to pea protein, another British plant-based brand doing good; Novo Farina is championing a sustainable ingredient that is better for consumers: pea protein. It has recently launched gluten-free mince which can be used to make plant-based dinner staples such as burgers or cottage pie. Using as few ingredients as possible, the brand is clean label and is more sustainable alternative to the more widely used soya protein. It’s also high in fibre, protein and is allergen-free. What’s not to love?! 

What the SHARP team loved

Doughboys pizza.

Delicious award-winning Italian pizza

“My stand-out brand was Doughboys as I loved the bold branding, and the pizzas were divine!”

– SHARP Senior Account Manager, Claire Hernandez

Moi by Mademoiselle Desserts
Delicious award-winning Italian pizza

“My highlight of the show was Moi by Mademoiselle Desserts. Over the three days, there was always a crowd at their stand, desperate to get their hands on some Mini Beignets. Mini Beignets are similar to doughnuts, but made with brioche bread and filled with Hazelnut, Cocoa, caramel, red berries, or apple. They were delicious!” 

– SHARP Senior Account Executive, Sam Beeny

kin + deum
Preserving the rich traditions of Thai cuisine and snacks

“I loved seeing kin + deum, the London based healthy eating Thai brand, which means eat and drink in Thai.  These guys are on a mission to inspire us to live happier, healthier lives by harnessing the power of wholesome eating, healthiness, and mindfulness.  Their food contains no MSG, they advocate slow cooking and joyful consumption.”

– SHARP Founder, AJ Sharp

NotPla's edible packaging

Disappearing packaging

“My highlight was Notpla: a beautifully designed stand showing how they use seaweed instead of plastic to make sustainable single-use packaging solutions. They also showed off their liquid packaging ‘Ooho’; their 100% naturally biodegradable and entirely edible wrapping which you pop straight in your mouth and is safe to eat.

“I think this really highlights a new challenge that brands are facing to re-educate consumers on how to consume their produce – it won’t just be a case of eating from a packet or drinking from a bottle when you can eat or drink the packaging as well.” 

– SHARP Graphic Designer, Alex Huntly

Med Cuisine's stand at IFE & HRC 2024

Med Cuisine
Celebrate Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine

“The prize for the prettiest stand has to go to Med Cuisine who cleverly created a contemporary café aesthetic to showcase their delicious range of Middle Eastern products – we couldn’t get enough of their chocolate tahini macarons!”

– SHARP Account Executive, Rebecca Eastman

Oatly's grabber machine game at IFE & HRC 2024

Eat and live better without recklessly taxing the planet’s resources in the process

Oatly was a stand-out moment for me with their brilliant gamification to bring visitors onto their stand. I loved their fairground grabber machine – you know the ones that you spend a fortune on to get a prize (I didn’t win a prize – luckily this one was free!) – and who can resist a soft serve ice cream.”

– SHARP Head of Clients & Content, Clare Pope

Oatly's grabber machine game at IFE & HRC 2024

Shanky’s Whip
Always one to buck the trend

“Shanky’s Whip was a highlight for me at IFE – their black liqueur blending Irish whiskey, cream, vanilla, caramel and natural flavours, tasted just like crème caramel, and was so smooth and silky! Their stand, particularly Kevin in the Shanky’s waistcoat, perfectly captured their bold, engaging brand personality, and brought the fun!”

– SHARP Account Manager, Abbie McCarthy

CRAVE's pickled onion noughties.

Noughtie, noughtie

Big thank you to our friends at CRAVE®, who were super generous donating packs of their Hot & Spicy Hot Dawgs and Pickled Onion Noughties as samples for visitors to the SHARP stand. 

Bread & Jam’s Foodservice Summit

Abbie McCarthy attended Bread & Jam's Foodservice Summit.

SHARP Account Manager Abbie McCarthy, attended The Foodservice Summit on 19th March, here are her top takeaways:

Why foodservice is so important for challenger brands: 



Proving ground 


Opportunities within foodservice: 

The rise of casual dining 

More people consider themselves foodies or food explorers – creates opportunities for brands. 

If you go straight into retail, you’re exposed to maybe 3 or 4 consumers. In foodservice your brand will be exposed to way more. 

Never been a better time for new innovative brands into the market that are doing something different, more sustainable.  

Collaborations with bigger brands could work well for both parties, as long as it’s not a competing product. 

PR & Marketing advice from successful brands

And finally, don’t take our word for it, here’s what some successful brand owners had to say about successful PR and marketing:

“So important! Wish I had known this sooner! PR as a small business helps you with listings as much as it puts you in front of consumers.”

– Duncan O’Brien from Dalston Soda

Duncan, we couldn’t agree more – we’ve helped hundreds of start-up brands improve visibility with trade buyers.  

“Don’t spend a penny on marketing unless you have distribution.”

– Ben Branson from Seedlip

Making sure you have distribution and that your product is available to customers, is key for F&B brands looking to scale.


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