Ethnic food leads the way

The market for ethnic food is developing at a fast pace and nowhere was this more evident than the World Food Market at Excel yesterda

y. Around 200 exhibitors from around 20 countries were there hoping to link up with retailers.

There seemed to be more Polish exhibitors than in previous years showing that this particular market is burgeoning with demand.

Polish Specialities is meeting the increase demand for its products with its chain of franchised delicatessens, a wholesale cash and carry in Croydon, South London and distribution centre, with a buyer's office in Poland. "The quality of Polish meat is much higher because the water content is very low." explains sales manager Colin Ashton. "We find the Polish product is increasingly being bought by people of English origin."

Ashton, who was at last year's show, said he was disappointed, by the visitor and exhibitor numbers both of whom he said appeared be down on 2006. "IFE was better. I am not sure we will exhibiting at WFM next year."

Lituancia, which works closely with producers from Lithuania, Latvia. Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Romania, was exhibiting for the first time at the World Food Market. Rasa Apostol, at Lituancia UK said, the objective of attending the show was firstly to satisfy the needs of the many consumers from Eastern Europe who live and work here, and secondly, to introduce UK customers to these new cuisines.

Pies retain their popularity but if you want ones that are different then the Alfa stand was the one to head to. Visitors could sample the sweet squash roll or ham pie made with a traditional Greek pie shell using olive oil and feta cheese instead of eggs and butter or margarine.

Halal exhibitors were once again in abundance at the show from Welsh Country Foods to Crescent Quality Food. Companies that were previously not operating in the halal sector are realising there is a gap in the market to be filled and that Muslim consumers want the same choice of products as the rest of the population. That's why Rowi Halal has expanded its range to include oriental halal products including spicy spring rolls.

Welsh Country Food's stand appeared to be much quieter than in previous years. Ibrahim Davis, senior business development manager at Welsh Country Foods said: "It's very quiet. We are a bit disappointed.

Last year we were in a halal pavilion but this year the stands are all mixed up and dotted about. We were hoping for a better turnout than we have had so far."

With the government threatening to penalise businesses unless they go green, the London Sustainability Exchange's (LSE) Greener Food stand was offering advice on cutting waste and saving money. Janice Ansine, project co-ordinator for LSE, said: "There is lot more people can do to do green. We offer free advice that will also help boost profits."

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