There’s an exciting new kid on the block this year in the shape of Bread & Butter Fest – the first ever festival for food founders. So was it worth investing your hard-earned cash to visit this two-day conference and boot camp for start-up and small business foodies? Give me five minutes and I’ll share everything!
I’m the nosy sort, so like to be involved as a visitor to shows that feature the latest food products and emerging trends. I usually manage to bag a free ticket from an exhibiting foodie friend, so admit that I winced when I saw the £110+ VAT price tag for a day at Bread & Butter Fest. I’m a small business myself and committing to such a huge outlay for one day wasn’t an instant yes from me, mainly because I’m not a food founder.
However, the more I read, the more amazing it sounded. What if Bread & Butter Fest turned out to be the best thing ever and I wasn’t there?! I started to get FOMO and a curious thought popped into my head when I reached the marketplace page. They were only going to accept a small handful of businesses that could genuinely offer valuable services to small business foodies. The cogs started to whirr as I realised that I’M ONE OF THOSE BUSINESSES and so I did the unthinkable – I fired off a tentative email to find out if being an exhibitor was somehow within my reach…
Organisers Jason Gibb and Tara Mei kindly responded and even though the stand price made me blink rapidly for 10 seconds, a five-hour drive that day put into perspective just what a great investment this could be, so I took the plunge.
Fast forward to Bread & Butter Fest weekend on 12th-13th November and having dragged about six stone around London between my suitcase, backpack and roller banner (knocking out several people along the way), I was all set up and ready to go.
I had my wonderful client Hedi from hedihearts.com along for the ride and thank goodness she was there! She’d beavered away the night before to handmake a delicious range of healthy brownies that wowed people on arrival, and then we added the virtual cherry on top as we told them the greatest PR secret of all… You don’t need to hire a PR company!
Yep, that’s right, ANYONE can do PR if they can use Twitter, write an email and pick up the phone. (Apologies to all fancy London agencies for dispelling the myth, but I’m sure you have plenty of big corporate giants throwing money at you to care about what us little guys have to say.)
If you’re shaking your head in an everyone-can-do-pr-except-me type of way, check out The Smoothie Bar because I’m teaching a whole host of fabulous foodies just like you how to do PR without an agency!
Bread & Butter Fest Seminars
Outside of the exhibition hall were four rooms hosting seminars that were led by top-notch industry professionals, and jam-packed with visitors taking furious amounts of notes. Take a look at the amazing range of topics in the:
This was the brilliant speaker list and here are some of my favourites:
Author of Amazon best-seller Packed: The Food Entrepreneur’s Guide – How To Get Noticed and How To Get Bought, and Flying Off the Shelves: The Food Entrepreneur’s Guide To Selling, Tessa is also a specialist in food and drink customer research or ‘shopper stalking’! Her impressive client list includes heavyweights like Innocent Drinks, Unilever, Dole, Rude Health, Itsu, Leon, and newer start-ups like G’Nosh Dips, Claudi & Fin, Cuckoo and Jimmys Iced Coffee. So it was no surprise that her seminar ‘The Seven Secrets of Sensational Food Branding’ was full of foodies eager to learn everything they could in 60 minutes. You need this lady in your life so check out her website.
As the first talk of the day on Saturday, Victoria was a little bit worried she’d be Billy No Mates, but the room was full as she talked about ‘Exporting for First Timers: How to Turn Your Food Business Global’. As my exhibiting neighbour, I was highly impressed with her knowledge and immediately asked her to join my panel of experts who do Q&As with my guys in The Smoothie Bar. If you want to take your food business to the next international level, check out her website.
The fabulously titled ‘FoodPorn: Instagram & Food Photography Masterclass’ was led by Yeshen, who is founder and director of the agency Yesh&Tash. There was no one better placed to teach this as his talents span many creative areas including websites, animations and short films plus, specialist photography for products and still life. Check out his funky website.
Bread & Butter Fest Tasting Panel
Getting industry experts to taste your products and give you honest feedback is the dream, right? 10-minute slots were available with big names including Fortnum and Mason, Planet Organic, Selfridges and Whole Foods to name but a few.
You get the chance to bombard them with questions about price point, branding, product positioning, packaging, taste, perceived target market, sales potential and anything else you could squeeze in. It was definitely one of the most valuable areas of the show for those who had a product developed enough to try.
Bread & Butter Fest Pitch Panel
Breaking down those buyer barriers can be difficult, so these first come, first served pitching opportunities were gold dust. Not On The High Street, Whole Foods and Fortnum and Mason were eager to discover the next big things in food and drink, and many foodies walked away with huge smiles on their faces.
Bread & Butter Fest Exhibitors
There were also some other really cracking exhibitors, a few of my favourites I’ve picked out below.
Eddie from Bryt had a colourful and eye-catching stand that was packed with examples of innovative brand creation and packaging design. He’s definitely the guy to visit whether you’re at concept, development or rebranding stage.
Rob Ward, co-founder of Grocery Accelerator was never on his own once visiting foodies understood that his business offers a new way for food and drink products to be discovered in the UK. They combine like-minded businesses at similar growth stages, a support network of proven entrepreneurs and trusted suppliers – backed-up, when appropriate, by investor funding. If you’re ready to grow your business safely and more rapidly, check these guys out.
Three Sixty Design
Jon and Chris from Three Sixty Design also know their stuff when it comes to branding and packaging, and are going full on foodie early next year. Check out their website to see which brands they’ve worked with so far.
Roy Shaby, co-founder of FoodStars offers private commercial production kitchens to food & drink businesses. You can find them around key prime London locations, and they help foodies ranging from start-ups to more established companies. They also offer extra operational services including dry & cold storage. Hit them up to see if they can help you out!
Phew! As you can see, Bread & Butter Fest 2016 was a bustling mix of fantastic opportunities to learn and grow your business. I spoke to so many fabulous foodies who were all at different stages – an idea, in development or a product in their bag – and it was wonderful to hear their stories at this moment of their journey.
Bread & Butter Fest 2016 – The Verdict
To sum it all up – Bread & Butter Fest was amazeballs so start saving for your ticket NOW, and book out 6th-7th October 2017. I can’t wait to see you there! (If you’re already missing my northern twang, sign up for my emails to keep you company until next year! ;o)
All of the loveliest photos on here are from Tom at Food Envy Photography, so check out his stunning food shots that you’ll probably want on your own website!