Coconuts and Spices Flourish at International Event

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London:  The proliferation of food-and-drink shows staged in the capital continues, with healthier food and drink high on the agenda.

The annual four-day International Food Exhibition, ended on March 22, is the UK’s largest gathering of global food and drink buyers and suppliers. A delighted event director Soraya Gadelrab described it as “bursting with new and exciting products as well as an invaluable insight into future trends and industry issues.”

More than 30,000 visitors from 108 countries swarmed into the sprawling ExCel exhibition centre in London’s Docklands to marvel at an array of food and drinks on offer and talk business as well as attend several talks given by experts.

Among the exhibitors Destination Kerala interviewed, several said it was “highly likely” that many of their spices came from Kerala as they deal with distributors who source coconuts and spices from various countries.

Destination Kerala spoke to Hitesh Sata, chief executive officer of distributors and food packers Swastik International, who said that his company regularly buys some of its spices from Kerala. Based in Gujarat, the company has started an off-shoot called Granny’s Spices offering 28 varieties like turmeric, chilli, nutmeg, cumin, white and black pepper, coriander, fennel and dry ginger. “We purchase around 7,000 tons of spices a year from various sources of which 800 tons come annually from Kerala,” he said. Granny’s Spices, he said, is a “fully automated spice-manufacturing and processing unit producing high quality spices in a hygienic environment.”

Holy Lama Spice Drops offered a 30-strong range of award-winning concentrated natural herbs and spices that add an “authentic taste and aroma to any recipe” with a few drops. Gouri Kubair, managing director, said she was eager to “spread the word” to more sectors of the food and hospitality industry. Her range of flavours includes cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, turmeric, red chilli, clove, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic, nutmeg and pepper.

A Dutch bakery called Van Strien showed its savoury biscuits “made by craftsmen, not machines”. The Beeyond Water company, a finalist in the World Food Innovation Awards 2017, highlighted a new flavour consisting of cinnamon, chrysanthemum and honey infused in water. Nutri-Brex, a gluten-free cereal company, unveiled its “fine-cut oats with hazelnut pieces, flaked quinoa and toasted coconut.” LoveRaw, which creates “innovative food and drink products”, launched its new range of almond drinks like turmeric chai latte and cacao and cardamom. Snacks produced by Innate Food include “air-dried savoury squares combining vegetables, coconut, spinach and butternut squash.” The London Cocktail Company makes drinks featuring coconut and pineapple. Coconuts surface in organic ice cream produced by Naturally Coconuts. Gerald McDonald Herbs and Spices showed its spices and seasonings that go into its Diana Curry blends.

Pankaj Exports has two factories, one in Tamil Nadu producing plain and spiced papads “totally handmade and solar-dried” and the other in Mumbai producing spiced cereals, said its proprietor R Janarthanan. Surya Foods, billed as “the world food company”, is a UK ethnic wholesaler and distributor of products from South Asia, Caribbean, Polish and other streams. Ethnic Foods Direct manufactures, markets and exports everything from single and blended ingredients to ready-to-cook spices, papads, pickles and food items. Bikaji Foods International produces a range of spicy snacks like bhujia and chatpata sev to masala bhoondi and lemon bhel as well as chilli tomato chips, papads and sweets.

Greenfields, since 1982, has been offering “exciting flavours from all over the world”, using dried herbs and spices that “bring east and west together”. They supply cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, ground nutmeg, white and black pepper, cloves, cardamom, fenugreek, aniseed and a whole lot more to supermarket chains, wholesalers, distributors and independents. The Curry Sauce Company manufactures all its products in the UK ranging from pickles and chutneys to naan breads and chapattis. Its slogan: “Fantastic food ready in minutes. Just add your meat, fish or vegetables and away you go!” Hilal Organics displayed its raw organic coconut oil with this advice: “Cook with it, condition your skin and hair with it, gargle with it first thing in the morning or just eat it raw and enjoy the coconut freshness.” Taste of India promoted its chana dhal, a ready-to-eat meal in a pot. Munchy Seeds highlighted its chilli bites, lightly roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds with crunchy kernels. Madhu Choudhry’s Ethnic Fusion showed its chicken makhani flavoured with fenugreek among other ingredients. Berry Fresh Bakery displayed its tomato and chilli jam. The show featured everything from main meals to snacks, drinks and ice creams.

Several talks included topics on Food as a Cure by Simon Clark, head of Hospital Caterers Association; How to Turn a Good Restaurant into a Great Business by Tony Kitous, founder and creative director, Comptoir Group; and The Fight Against Obesity by Anton Alldrick, Campden BRI.

The event was interlinked with two others – Pro2Pac, the UK’s only food and drink packaging show, and Waste-Works, the UK’s sole waste and sustainability exhibition for the food industry.

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