The Source trade show was a huge success last year and the feedback from the most recent show suggests it’s going from strength to strength. Responses to our visitors’ questionnaire paint a very positive picture in words and numbers but you only had to look around each day to see how well everything was going. The aisles were thronged with people in animated conversation with the wide variety of passionate producers, enthusiastic food service suppliers and upbeat hospitality folk. There was also no shortage of keen tasters for the wealth of free cakes, pastries, charcuterie, drinks, condiments, ice creams and chocolates on display, while those demonstrating more technology-led offerings were very busy.
What the numbers say
Of those visitors to the 2020 show who completed our questionnaire an amazing 96% said they’d recommend the show to a colleague or related business – up 6% on last year (which doesn’t leave us much room for improvement in 2021!) The number of those intending to return next year was an encouraging 92% – a 4% improvement on last year.
We’re also getting a lot of new visitors, with 42% saying 2020 was the first time they’d attended the show. This is great news for exhibitors as it means they are reaching fresh buyers they would not have seen 12 months ago. The flipside of this is that an impressive 63% of visitors this year said they had found three or more new suppliers (42% found 3-5 new suppliers, 14% found 5-10 and 6% found more than 10).
Asked whether they had placed orders at the show, or immediately afterwards, 56% of visitors answered “yes” – which is pretty impressive in terms of exhibitors getting a real return on their investment.
Two other aspects of the show got a big thumbs up. 34% of visitors were satisfied with the variety of exhibitors and 45% were very satisfied, making a total of 79%. In terms of the venue 54% were very satisfied and 38% were satisfied, making a huge total of 92%.
What additional comments were made by visitors?
As well as useful data we got a lot of very positive comments on the forms. The range of exhibitors came in for plenty of praise:
“A great variety of regional suppliers, marketing ethically produced wares. I also gained new insight and contacts with recycling and waste suppliers that I intend to use in the future.”
“Variety of exhibitors. This is a ‘must do’ event for anyone in the food industry. It champions local producers and gives them access to a wider audience and potentially greater sales.”
“Lots of useful wholesale food supply companies along with a good selection of new and local producers.”
Many visitors were enthusiastic about the opportunities to actually talk to people and get hands on with produce and equipment – a rare opportunity in today’s digital age!:
“Loved it. Great people atmosphere and learning lots of new things.”
“Great for face to face with variety of suppliers to compare.”
“Easy to stand and talk with suppliers and sample etc without blocking the aisle.”
“You’re able to test the equipment and discuss it. Your also able to taste the food and ask questions.”
Others found it provided invaluable food for thought:
“You cannot fail to find new ideas for your business.”
Visitors we spoke to at the show over the two days were equally upbeat:
Hamish Renton, MD of Devon based HRA Global consultancy commented that “It’s a great show, with some really interesting new products from South West producers on display. We got into some detailed conversations about the challenges of scaling up production, accessing the major multiples and understanding shoppers better in order to demonstrate category insight and understanding.”
Happy exhibitors too
We also got some very enthusiastic feedback from exhibitors we spoke to at the event.
Tom from Stampapp, a provider of loyalty solutions, commented “We signed up three new clients right here yesterday and we have two or three follow up as well so that’s a very good show!”
Jeni of Butter Bike said “Yesterday was really busy, same today, lots of leads. This is my first trade show and Hale have been very good at helping me prepare and get organised, they gave me some nudging and hand holding!”
Adam of Loving Foods was very happy: It’s a long way to come from Manchester but well worth it. We’ve been really busy, met a lot of people, many of them have been really interested in the product, and we’ve gained great feedback on the branding, the taste. And we hope to be shipping some product out to the new contacts we’ve made. Hale events have been great, very well organised, very slick. I’d much prefer to come here than events in London, it’s a much nicer experience altogether!”
Hugh Lambert of Shanty seaweed botanical vodka was equally delighted: “We’ve had a fantastic response, made some excellent contacts, and met some really interesting people. It’s been well worthwhile.”
Phil Mills, Head of Food and Drink for Old Mill accountants reported “It’s been brilliant, and it always is; it’s fantastic for us, to go out and see everything that’s going on in the food and drink sector, and a great opportunity to mix it up with some of our clients and potential clients.”
Lots to look forward to
We’re delighted that things went so well and are already gearing up for next year’s show on the 10th and 11th February 2021, once again at Westpoint Exeter. We’re also busily preparing to take the show on the road, and launch the Source Roadshow in Bristol, at Ashton Gate on Thursday 18th June – a great opportunity to introduce Bristol’s thriving independent food sector, with its focus on local, organic and ethical produce, to a wider range of regional producers. See you there!