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Record breakers

A record number of visitors turned out for this year’s T.Quality Fish Frying & Fast Food Show as Leeds Royal Armouries hosted the newest and most exciting suppliers in fish and chips right now

Taking over the Leeds New Dock Hall on Sunday 6th October, the T. Quality show played host to some of the most cutting-edge trends in quick service food right now from all things sustainable packaging, alternative menu options to new frying ranges and oil filtration systems.

A record number of visitors came through the doors, some making the journey from as far afield as Portsmouth, Newcastle, Wales and even France, attracted by high profile exhibitors including Red Bull, Sarson’s, Heinz, Britvic and Quorn. Once again, the show proved a must-visit event for anyone who is anyone in the fish and chip and fast food trade and gave a clear sign that in an increasingly digitalised world, unique opportunities for meaningful face-to-face time still hold strong appeal in the sector.

Commenting on the show, Joe Kendrick, marketing manager at T. Quality, said: “The line-up and content from an exhibitor and visitor point of view demonstrate the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the fish and chip and fast food sector, despite the negative headlines we’ve seen daily regarding Brexit. With improving attendance levels, we can see a vibrant future for the industry. T. Quality is totally committed to the trade and we look forward to many more years hosting the shows and providing the best in fish and chips and fast food.”


One visitor that epitomises the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that Joe describes is Emma Dorey, who drove six and a half hours to the show from her shop Whistlers in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Operating a traditional shop, her menu doesn’t change very often, however, she’s always on the lookout for better products, and the T.Quality show gave her the chance to sample all the items she had read so much about. Emma comments: “I tried Sam’s Natural Kitchen mushy peas and they were really good. They tasted just like homemade peas but without doing any of the work yourself and they don’t have any of the preservatives or colourings that tinned peas have.

“I took Red Bull up on their offer of buy two cases of product and get the fridge for free. Also pies, we swapped recently because the fillings weren’t very good, but we found with the brand we switched to the tops were lifting off. Here, we spoke to Peter’s Pies who explained they use a butter-enriched pastry which means the tops don’t lift off. We tasted those and they were great so we ordered some immediately. We also tried their saveloys and, I have to say, they were the best saveloys I’ve tasted.

“If I hadn’t gone to the exhibition I wouldn’t have seen any of these, it was just a brilliant place to try new products. I can’t wait for the next one.”

First-time exhibitor Sarson’s had an extremely positive show with Craig Dillon, national account controller at Mizkan, feeling as if everyone that came made it to the stand at one point or another.

He comments: “Overall it was fantastic. A very busy show for us. During the day we distributed 264 bottles of Sarson’s with our quality, ‘craft brewed’ message, and our stand, which recreated part of our iconic factory on the show floor, going down extremely well. People love the fact that Sarson’s is a genuine natural product - that’s the way the market is going. One visitor even went as far as to say “Sarson’s is famous in-home, it now needs to become famous again in chip shops”.”

Extend the menu

The buzz continued on the Golden Valley Foods stand which was busy from start to finish with customers intrigued by its gluten free chicken products. Mark Coventry from Golden Valley Foods, comments: “A lot of fish friers advised they are now procuring smaller, exclusively gluten-free fryers for their shops as the sales of gluten-free battered fish continue to rise throughout the industry. Customers and fish friers were very interested in our Golden Valley Foods gluten-free chicken products as new options to extend their gluten-free menus. As always, we found the quality of chicken is at the top of the list for buying customers, which is why our whole Golden Valley Foods range proved so popular at the show.”

Another first time exhibitor, all the way from Tallaght in Dublin, was Blenders showcasing its range of sauces and supporting point of sale. Sampling its mayonnaise, which has just secured a listing with T.Quality, visitors were impressed with its taste and texture and were keen to use it not only on its own but as a base for their homemade tartare sauce. Also making waves was its sachets of sauces, which at 15ml contain more sauce than the traditional 10ml versions. Size isn’t the only advantage however as Barnaby Barber, business development manager, was explaining to visitors on the day. He says: “We’ve invested heavily in the machinery that makes the sachets so it’s a very high-quality sachet which has the holding properties of glass and, therefore, gives the product a nice long shelf life. The mayonnaise is eight months and the ketchup, tartare sauce, brown sauce and vinegar are 12 months. The aluminium foil is recyclable and the sachets are packed in an outer packaging of cardboard so that can be recycled too, which are extra plus points.”

Exceeding expectations

Ferhat Akkaya, managing director at Hopkins, was pleased to be showcasing its latest range innovation in the form of its triple filtration. He comments: “We’ve done what the previous owners in 60 years couldn’t do and added built-in filtration. It’s what people expect these days in a frying range and we want to exceed their expectations.”

Getting a positive vibe from visitors, many who were opening new shops or converting existing businesses in to chippies, Ferhat said the reception was excellent, adding: “As well as the filtration we’ve also improved the recovery time but, most importantly, with our built-in filtration friers can use universal super pads. We haven’t designed it so customers have to buy from Hopkins. They can if they want to, but if they can buy them cheaper or want to buy from someone else they can. We just really want our customers to enjoy their new range and to make frying on it as easy as possible.”

Mohammed Essa, commercial director, Aviko UK & Ireland, meanwhile found the show a fantastic opportunity to speak directly with fast food operators, listen to their challenges and provide solutions. He comments: “One of the main conversations we had with operators at the show was around how they can make sure their chips withstand delivery pressures. With fish and chips now the second most popular takeaway choice for dinner, delivery is becoming increasingly important. During the show, many operators had the opportunity to sample our thick cut 15mm Super Crunch Fries which have been specially designed to stay hotter and crispier for longer, helping to finish off the takeaway experience perfectly.”

With lots of buzz and excitement around new products, another common theme was how shops can promote them so they sell, something which Barry Dickman, MD at BD Signs, was only too happy to assist with by showcasing both its digital and static menus.

He comments: “We had over 12 new shops or existing clients investing in new premises come and see us at the show and this was very positive as I was concerned about the amount of chatter on the social media forums of businesses closing. I think the market and owners are beginning to understand that they need to invest in their businesses with ideas and start competing against larger chains by tackling portion control and improving the customer experience.”

Of the same sentiment was Ben Ingham of exhibitor Pacific West Foods who also noticed the number of requests for product innovation. He comments: “Fish and chip shops in the UK have faced a number of challenges over the past few years, but this was not the topic of conversation. In fact, it was quite the opposite. There was a refreshing and positive approach to the future. Most, if not all, shop owners seem to have the same focus in mind: offering top quality products and new menu innovation.”

With visitor numbers at an all-time high and shop owners still in the hall come closing time, the show was deemed a complete success and all eyes will be on when the next one will take place, which we’re hoping to bring you news of very shortly!

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