Food Processing Technology rounds up the key themes from day one of the Food and Drink Expo 2018 in Birmingham, UK.

The annual Food and Drink Expo returned to the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre (NEC) on 16 April, with international industry experts and exhibitors showcasing their products across five shows: Food and Drink, FoodEx, The Ingredients Show, the National Convenience Show, and The Farm Shop and Deli.

Representatives from major companies convened with food organisations and environmental groups to discuss the latest issues shaping the food industry, giving visitors the opportunity to understand emerging topics and sample new products. From farm to fork, here are the trends that stole the show.

Innovations for growth: changing values in 2018

The ‘Go for Growth in 2018’ panel discussion was one of the highlights on FoodEx’s centre stage, with panellists keen to address the elephant in the room–Brexit. Topics discussed included how Brexit would affect the UK’s fishing industry, particularly the revision of maritime borders, and the quality of products imported from non-European nations. The sustainability of seafood farming is set to be a key issue this year with increasing global demand combining with fish shortages creating a perfect storm for the fisheries worldwide.

The panellists moved on to other transformations in the food industry and how businesses should respond to changing consumer trends in order to stay profitable. Food and Drink Federation director Ian Wright brought up the issue of failing restaurants due to little choice of food on offer between competing restaurants. He estimated growth for the Ivy Collection chain, which brings Michelin star food to the high street. Another topic was the diminishing attention span of the millennials who are less patient, demanding better taste and nutritional value.

Young butchers prove their talent at Premier Young Butchers’ award

The Premier Young Butchers competition saw eight young butchers from across the UK showcasing their craft skills. Among the competitors were 23-year-old level 3 Meat and Processing apprentice Erin Conroy from Fallenich Farm Shop in Stirling Scotland, and 20-year-old level 3 Food Industry Skills apprentice James Gracey of Quayles Fine Foods in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Another entrant from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, was 20-year-old Butchery World Skills Bronze Medallist Dylan Gillespie, competing with 18 year old level 2 Meat Ipswich apprentice James Henshaw of Taylors Farm shop in Lancashire. Taylors Farm have been successful in the competition in recent years, producing the 2013 finalist Benjamin Peel, as well as the current winner from 2015 Lucy Crawshaw.

The winner will be decided on Tuesday.

Foods of the future: Tiger nuts and edible insects

As the food industry looks to superfoods of the future, two seminars from the Ingredients Show stood out, offering their take on emerging food products in Europe.

Tiger Nut Company co-founder Ani de la Prida discussed her company’s introduction of tiger nut milk into the UK and the launch of the world’s first raw tiger nut chocolate. She talked about the versatility of the ingredient and its substantial health properties including its high level of fibre, and as a source of vitamin C and E.

Edible insects producer Jimini’s communications manager Raphaëlle Browaeys discussed the benefits of insects as a foodstuff, speaking of their benefits as a protein alternative, and promoted the sustainability of insect farming as opposed to traditional beef farming. Products included cricket powder for home cooking and protein bars, and seasoned whole insects as a snack product.  Education, reassurance and playing down the unpleasant associations of eating insects were three challenges that Jimini’s hopes to address.