Well, strictly speaking, they did not defy either, but embraced them both! Olympia’s Grand Hall was deliciously airy for much of the show.
And even better, a redesign of the floor plan meant that apart from peak visitor hours (between about 12.30 and 2pm each day) it was relatively easy to navigate around the bulging shopping trolleys and ice cream-up-to-their-eyebrows kids. The midday sun did steam up those with stands in the centre of the hall who got the full blast but for the rest of us, it was really very pleasant.
As for the World Cup…. In terms of ‘events outside your control’ this has not been a good year for the Allergy Show. The Glasgow show having to be cancelled at the last minute because of freak North Pole weather and, against all possible odds, England getting to the quarter finals of the World Cup!! However, by now little can phase the team.
To accommodate the fans, they set up a live relay of the quarter finals match against Sweden in the Pillar Hall. This was a great solution as it allowed the footie enthusiasts to follow the game in an atmosphere which rivalled the Samara Stadium while the footie haters had a lovely time in a rather less crowded hall, tracking down the latest freefrom goodies. The only people I felt really sorry for the were the Oumph!! Team from Sweden. They had abandoned their extremely lively demo kitchen and stand, not only be very heavily outnumbered – but to lose…
Back in the hall Doves Farm’s FREEE pavilion was in full swing with lots cookery demos (Christine Bailey had recruited one of her twins to help on stage), the usual round the table sessions with Clare and Michael, face painting (no, we refrained this time – unlike in Liverpool where we went rather over the top….) and the morning Dru yoga sessions led by the lovely super skinny and super bronzed Dru Yoga lady…
…requiring us to shake it all about – and to open up to the skies…..
While Cressida was having a good stretch, Sue Cane (our beer expert and coeliac diarist) was helping out over on the Hüfi stand.
Hüfi is a new low cal gluten free beer inspired by the Hüfi glacier in Switzerland. Already selling well in Ireland it is setting out to rival the Skinny lager that won Silver in the Start Up category in the FreeFrom Food Awards in March.
Meanwhile, over in the London Room – an excellent industry conference was going on – organised by Simon Wright and Hamish Renton: Where next for freefrom? Fascinating consumer insights from Watch Me Think, HIM and Future Thinking – followed by case histories from three new and exciting start ups: Hella Yum, Hunter & Gather and Oomi Noodles.
My two excellent take-home ‘learns’ from the morning were that, at last, consumers are beginning to rate quality and provenance above price when they shop – and that we (‘we’ being primarily those elusive 20-35 year old millennials) are no longer so interested in what is being taken out of food (‘freefrom’ fat, gluten, calories etc) but what is being put in, especially in terms of nutritional benefits. Take note, freefrom manufacturers…
In the Learning Centre there were, as always, a selection of excellent talks – very well attended despite the noise of the show which does tend to make speaking in the Learning Centre quite a challenge.
Polly provides support to families (the children and their parents) with severe food allergies. This year she was talking about how to manage the inevitable and severe anxieties that beset anyone who has (or who has a child who has) an anaphylactic allergy – especially if they have had a life threatening reaction to a food. Her really helpful talk included not only what you might expect to feel if you have had such a reaction, but practical things that you can do to reduce your anxiety. There will be a report in the next Action Against Allergy newsletter and we will also be hosting one on the Foods Matter site.
As the social media enthusiasts among you will know, Cressida has been Facebooking and Tweeting about the MANY and exciting new products that she found around the show. So I will only mention a couple of non food products which were just round the corner from our stand.
(Did we go rather OTT wth those roundels this year? Well, I guess that no one could say that they didn’t know what we did.)
So, this lovely lady firmly refused my request for a card or a flyer pointing out that the more environmentally friendly way to give information was to photograph her details, thus saving a small forest of trees and a great deal of rubbish collection. (It is a sad fact of exhibitions that 90%+ of the flyers, leaflets and brochures that are handed out end up, unread, in the rubbish bin.)
She was making totally envonmentally friendly – and very decorative – clingfilm alternatives from jolly gingham cloth soaked in beeswax and jojoba oil. Perfect for wrapping breads, fruits and veg or covering a bowl, they are anti microbial (thanks to the jojoba oil) and either wipe clean or can be cool washed. Warmed by the heat of your hands, they even stick to the sides of the bowls – and apparently last for ages! They are all hand made and each cloth has a tag on it telling you who made it. What is not to like – and what great gifts they would make…
An aisle down in the other direction was a lady selling knives. (All exhibitions always have at least one stand selling knives, one selling saucepans and one selling food graters, grinders, slicers or choppers.) She had an exellent line in patter and totally took me in. ‘Are you interested in a Teflon free knife?’ (After all, this was a ‘freefrom’ show…) ‘As you know, Teflon can have all kinds of harmful effect on your health… Let me show you…’
Well, of course, when I got to her stand, what she was selling was good old fashioned stainless steel (and therefore Teflon free) knives from Sheffield. But she assured me, that these were still knives with a difference: the holes in the middle which help you slice super fine and are excellent for cutting gluten free bread which, as we all know, can definitely crumble.
I must say that the one I came home with certainly does cut gluten free bread very well, although I am still slightly baffled by the holes. Do they, I wonder, confer some cutting magic that I have just failed to grasp. Anyhow, if you are interested, you can get a set of three knives for £60 although I am pretty sure that her show offer will hold good if you mention that this is where you heard about them. Check in to KnifeMagic.co.uk.
In terms of food, many old friends were in attendance: Tesco with an admirable number of FFFood Awards logos enhancing their stand;
Mrs Crimbles, Genius Gluten Free, Dr Schaer with their new FODMAP food range developed in partnership with the IBS Network; Oumph! from Sweden and their amazing vegan meat alternative (who recovered pretty quickly from their football disappointment); Nairns; Perkier; White Rabbit Pizza and many many more. A very pleasing number of yellow FFFAwards logos decorating stands.
So another successful show. Thank you Allergy Show team – a good delivery as always!
And thank you also for enabling us to host a very successful FreeFrom Skincare Awards presentation in the Pillar Hall the evening before the show opened.
In the tradition of our freefrom awards, a great opportunity to network combined this time with a super interesting panel discussion set up by Kirsty. For a full run down on the event and the winners see Alex’s blog here.