Something for every buyer and supplier at Warwickshire Food & Drink 2019
"It's a very informal well-run event...we attended last time and, as a result, picked up local business"
Cider-maker Allen Hogan is looking forward to the Warwickshire Food & Drink Expo 2019 in March after picking up valuable business from the "very well run" inaugural event two years ago.
The second ‘meet the buyer and supplier’ event organised by Warwickshire County Council for the Food & Drink industry in the county will take place at Warwick Racecourse on Thursday 7th March. A broad range of food and drink will be showcased there.
The Expo is designed as a catalyst for producers to connect with new customers both locally and from further afield such as visitor attractions, independent stockists, supermarkets, restaurants and hotels.
At the first event in 2017 that objective certainly bore fruit for many of the exhibitors, including Hogan's Cider.
The Haselor-based business is a Warwickshire success story in its own right, having grown out of what was just a hobby for Allen Hogan. From the tentative start of taking a few bottles along to Stratford Farmers' Market, Allen's business now produces half a million litres of cider a year.
Having blossomed, assisted by a small capital grant from Warwickshire County Council, Hogan Ciders supplies customers locally, across the UK and Europe - a customer-base to which Allen expects to add during Warwickshire Food & Drink on March 7.
"We attended last time and, as a result, picked up local business," Allen said. "Some of it was on our doorstep which makes you think 'why didn't we have this business before?'
"But that's the great thing about the Expo - it introduces you to people, both locally and from further afield. They are the right people too. At some events a lot of the visitors are interested but don't have the authority to do business. That is not the case at Warwickshire Food & Drink. There are some serious buyers there.
"It's a very informal, well-run event which I am really looking forward to attending."
Warwickshire's diverse Food & Drink sector has a long reach with Hogan's Cider even making inroads into one of the tougher markets to crack - Russia.
"A Russian guy was in London, came across our cider and liked it so much he got in touch," Allen said. "We now supply his outlets in Moscow and St Petersburg. We also supply to other countries in Europe but our customers are mainly UK-based and particularly strong in Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield at the moment.
"It started off literally as a hobby and I never expected it to take off like this. But we have some great people working here and it is lovely to take a raw material and turn it into something that people value and enjoy.
"It took a while for us to get into profit but the grant from Warwickshire County Council was a huge help to our growth. It went towards a £50,000 keg-filler which enabled us to bring that process in house, so we were not reliant on contractors and had much more flexibility.
"It is vital that we keep moving the business forward though. That is why we are always creating new products - and why events like Warwickshire Food & Drink are so important, allowing us to make new connections in the industry."
*Registration for Warwickshire Food & Drink is free to buyers and inexpensive for suppliers wishing to reserve an exhibitors’ place. For details please refer to the event website www.warwick-food-drink.co.uk/