The NEC, Birmingham, became a bustling hive of working machinery, networking and knowledge-sharing when Foodex, the biennial UK event for food and drink processing, packaging and logistics professionals, returned to showcase and celebrate the industry’s latest, ground-breaking innovations.


Thousands of manufacturing professionals travelled to the event from across the country to explore cutting-edge technology and game-changing solutions and services from such big-name exhibitors as Brook Food Processing, Handtmann, Multivac, Reiser and Stephan UK.


As per previous years, innovation was high on the Foodex agenda. The NEC housed more than 350 of Europe’s most pioneering processing, packaging and logistics suppliers for the food industry. Showcasing everything from optical sorting, multi-head weighing technology and inspection and packing line solutions, the show was a hotbed of new product launches and UK debuts. Foodex has long been considered an ideal location to source the latest solutions and it was clear that the show still delivers on that front.


The Great New Idea competition saw an incredibly high standard of submissions, with Britain’s premier bakery management software specialist CyBake scooping victory for BakePlan – a unique production forecasting system that cuts waste, increases sales and improves availability for supermarket in-store bakeries and food-to-go operations.


Jane Tyler, Managing Director at CyBake, commented: “This was a very successful show for us with a steady stream of visitors to our stand, both long-standing clients and new prospective clients. The icing on the cake, though, was winning the ‘Great New Idea’ competition for our BakePlan software, which allows food business operators to ensure great availability without letting waste get out of control. We have worked very hard to provide the industry with a solution to this problem and we are delighted that Foodex has recognised this contribution.”


Other innovation highlights included Addmaster’s covert counterfeit technology Verimaster, which allows customers to build a secret identification system into packaging during the manufacturing process to protect global brands from counterfeiting.


A host of other new products were on display at the show, from Packaging Automation’s Rotofill – a versatile, high speed rotary filling and sealing machine that caters to a wide range of customer requirements and products – to pallet stability and sustainable packaging specialist Lindum Packaging’s latest offering Carestretch nano; one of the strongest, thinnest pallet wrapping films on the market.


German manufacturer of vacuum filler and portioning systems, Handtmann utilised Foodex as the ideal platform for the UK debut of several of its latest products. Drawing customers to the stand was the new GS300 Collation System – a fully automated solution for sausage producers. In action live on the show floor throughout the event, the GS300 demonstrated how fresh sausages in different casings can be deposited into trays without manual intervention.


Talking about the success of the show, James MacLeod, Senior Sales Support Coordinator, Handtmann said: “Foodex is a valuable opportunity for us to come together in one place with our customers and show them the latest range of equipment as well as our established systems. Foodex allows us to demonstrate our food production solutions live so the customer can see them working and get answers directly to questions which creates a big impact. This is useful for both attracting new prospects and progressing opportunities that may have been initiated before the event. The show was a great success for us and the leads were of a particularly high quality.”


As well as the opportunity to meet hundreds of exhibitors offering ways to boost production line efficiency, ensure food safety, reduce waste and more, visitors to the show were able to benefit from an insightful programme of live events and panel debates covering the latest trends and topics impacting the bakery, beverage, dairy, fresh, ingredients, logistics, meat and seafood sectors.


Manufacturing professionals flocked to the show’s Centre Stage to hear from such industry experts as BBC Business Broadcaster Steph McGovern, who returned to Foodex for the second-year to address the pressing issues and key trends from across the industry. She was joined by a panel of thought-leaders including Ian Wright, Director General, Food & Drink Federation and Nigel Jenney, CEO, Fresh Produce Consortium.


Another popular talk came from Danny Bayliss of Campden BRI, who shared how manufacturers can harness new technologies to improve product quality, extend shelf-life and reduce waste, while a panel of industry experts including Kate Halliwell, Head of UK Diet and Health Policy, addressed the obesity crisis, assessing the progress made by the industry so far to reduce consumers’ calories intake.


The Foodex Engage Lounge, in partnership with Teknomek, also saw a series of well-attended sessions over the three days of the show, with visitors learning about such topics as how to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination; hygiene strategies to manage the ‘human factor’ and balancing occupational health with hygiene.


Foodex also hosted the Premier Young Butcher 2018 and the prestigious National Federation of Meat and Food Traders (NFMFT) National Meat Products competitions.


First-time visitor, Gavin Stubley, Process Technologist, Quorn spoke about the show, commenting: “It’s a great show and has been valuable to help us understand new machinery.”


Fellow first-time visitor, Martin Lupton, Project Engineer, Warburtons, added: “It’s a very good show – it’s great to see what’s new in the industry and has been a useful place to catch up with our suppliers.”


Dan Dixon, Sales Director, said “This year’s event was hugely successful with fantastic feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike. Foodex has once again brought together the most innovative processing, packaging and logistics suppliers with the country’s foremost experts, to provide the tools and knowledge that will improve operations across the entire production line. Roll on 2020!”


The next Foodex will take place from 30 March – 1 April 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham.