The show may be over but with operators leaving with deals, discounts and a host of new products to try, the effects of this year’s T.Quality Fish Frying & Fast Food Show will be felt for some time
It was a nerve-wracking wait, wondering after two years away what would be waiting for us when we opened the doors to the Warwickshire Event Centre on Sunday 12th June. But we needn’t have worried, visitors attended attended from far and wide, proving that The T.Quality Fish Frying & Fast Food Show is still one of the biggest and most popular exhibition for the fish and chip industry.
Shops travelled many miles to attend the show with visitors coming from as far as Paignton in Devon, Bradford in South Yorkshire and St Helier in Jersey.
There was no getting away from the fact that cost was on visitors’ minds, with shop owners keen to secure deals and savings that would help soften the blow of constant price rises.
One visitor who attended with a vision of stocking up was Ozzie Bozdag from Codfellas in Chantry, Ipswich. Impressed with Tyson Foods’ Hot ‘n’ Kickin’ Chicken as well as Meadow Vale Foods’ chicken bites and strips, he left the show with more than he bargained for, adding: “The show was very good, I went to get some good deals, especially on things like fish and packaging. My budget was £3,000 but I believe I went way over spending that. When you are saving £2-3 a box on everything, it all adds up.”
Although the cost of gas, electricity, fish and oil are a cause for concern, squeezing already tight margins, it was clear that shops weren’t going to compromise on quality, a trend picked up by first time exhibitor Rupert’s Ingredients.
While offering samples of its Southern Fried Chicken breading and peri-peri basting sauces, sales manager Calvin Harris said: “Shops seemed to want to improve the food they are offering their customers, trying new coatings, whether it’s fish, chicken, Peri-Peri or burger seasonings. We at Rupert’s Ingredients can offer those choices. It was great to speak to the long-term fish and chip shop owners still in the industry who were open to new ideas to improve their menus.”
With the restaurant trade not fully recovered following Covid, visitors were also looking at products that would help them maximise takeaway and delivery opportunities.
Dave Carpenter, national account manager at Kerry Foods, comments: “We had a lot of interest in Goldensheaf Crisp and Light Batter Mix, which is blended with rice flour so it stays crispier for longer and drains a little bit better, as well as our Goldensheaf Smart Batter where customers are still looking for a batter that delivers well.”
Despite the difficulties facing the industry, visitors were not put off investing in their businesses with those companies exhibiting technology promising newer, quicker and more efficient ways of serving customers remaining busy throughout the day.
QikServe, which showcased its digital ordering platform, reported particular interest in features such as Suggestive Selling, offering upsell opportunities like drinks or accompaniments, and order slots to manage customer expectations.
Head of marketing Wil Chung, added: “Our digital platform allows owners to offer online ordering for collection or delivery at 0% commission and low transaction rates. Talking to many attendees, we were offering better value than their current suppliers.”
With prices constantly changing, digital menu boards commanded most of the attention for PanaEpos. Meeting what he could only describe as a “phenomenal amount of potentially new customers”, Jason Bailey, sales manager, said: “The boards have the ability to update the price as the price is updated on the till which saves a lot of time and money.”
Keeping hungry visitors fed was Middleton Foods with the team serving over 500 portions of fish, chips, mushy peas and curry from a mobile van courtesy of West Midlands Chip Company. Area sales manager for Middletons, Dean Baker, comments: “We never stopped and we had a spell from 11.30am- 3pm where we couldn’t keep up.
“There was a big focus on pricing and deals where shops are finding it difficult at the moment. However, our Vegetarian Curry Sauce went down really well. We cooked hake for a change, which customers enjoyed, and we coated it in our new Blend 30 Batter Mix which is a very crispy batter and got a lot of good feedback.”
Commenting on the success of the show, Mike Crees, MD at T.Quality, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank all our customers who attended the show, it was great meeting so many current and new customers! I must thank our suppliers and exhibitors, who without their support we wouldn’t have been able to put on such a great show and provide some amazing offers on the day.
“The whole world – not just the fish and chip industry – is facing challenging times, but it was great to speak with so many positive shop owners who are looking to evolve and grow their businesses. We are looking forward to hosting another Fish Frying & Fast Food Show in 2023!”