We expected some period of uncertainty when the Brexit vote was tallied in 2016. We didn’t think it would drag on, as it has, with an extension and whatnot. Even today, as we write this, it is unclear what will happen and when it will happen…
Three years ago, working with the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), we decided to offer a guide to Brexit, a special FPC seminar that would let the industry know how to manage the process. We didn’t expect that three years on, we would still be saying “We have to wait to see!”
One would think this is bad tidings for the largest and most important trade show for the produce industry in the United Kingdom! The situation with Brexit is defined by the word ‘uncertainty’, and if there is one thing business hates, it is uncertainty. Some pull back on investment, and try to adopt defensive postures.
And yet… it is always the case that in the flummox of uncertainty lies opportunity. Those who will be prepared to seize that opportunity are the ones learning, networking and exploring right now. Of course, what better way… what better place… to learn, to network and engage in that exploration than at an event such as this.
Indeed, your very presence here indicates you are one of the people — and your organisation one of the organisations — that is smart enough to realise that today is preparatory for tomorrow.
For us, here at The London Produce Show and Conference, we have kept a ‘stiff upper lip’ and have moved ahead through this uncertainty, and we have quietly built something really extraordinary. We started with the show, educational seminars, chef demos and networking events. Then we added the Foodservice Forum, a fullday educational and networking event that focuses on the opportunity to increase produce consumption by using the wonderful trial options available in catering, while celebrating the transformation of the UK restaurant scene with London now recognised as one of the great culinary cities of the world.
Then, working with Nigel Jenney and the great team over at the Fresh Produce Consortium, we added the “Trading with the UK Seminar,” a half-day programme specifically addressing the challenges and opportunities that Brexit may offer to those looking to trade with the UK.
This year, we launch a new event, the Global Grape Summit, an unparalleled gathering of the best and brightest from around the world — a true Summit of the people who make the global grape business happen. This full-day programme is rich with information and insights that will determine the course of sub-stantial investments in the world of grapes.
It is not surprising that buyers, shippers and supply chain executives are attending from six continents — everybody wants to be in the room where it happens!
These are just the public events happening during this conference. Just as London, one of the world’s iconic cities, draws business and tourism from around the globe, so The London Produce Show and Conference has quietly become the place to hold important meetings and events. Sometimes, these events are public knowledge. So, for example, this year, we are honoured to have Freshfel Europe holding its 2019 Annual Event in connection with The London Produce Show and Conference. This event, themed, “Building opportunities for fresh produce in an unpredictable business environment,” brings many leading produce industry executives from across the continent of Europe to London.
In addition, we are also hosting the International Federation for Produce Standards in London. This group is composed of national produce associations from around the globe. From Norway to New Zealand, the membership is focused on improving the supply chain efficiency of the fresh produce industry through developing, implementing and managing harmonised international standards.
You can listen to Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association in America, as part of our Thought Leader Breakfast Panel on Thursday morning. When you see Tom or some of the other global leaders of the produce industry on the show floor, we hope you will extend a greeting and thank them for coming to London.
In addition, there are many corporate meetings on the national, trans-Atlantic and global scale for the buy, sell and supply chain sides of the business being held in conjunction with the show. Keep us in mind if your organisation might find value in gathering with us in London in years ahead. We will help make it happen.
In fact, in a very quiet and cumulative way, The London Produce Show and Conference is increasingly a place where serious people, doing important things, gather to build a better industry.
It has been an absolute privilege to help build this industry institution. What will happen with Brexit I do not know. But I do know that whatever the future brings, those who engage with us here in London will be better prepared to face the future than those who stay home.
I want to thank our team, our sponsors, the exhibitors and attendees, our friends at the Fresh Produce Consortium — all who have chosen to engage with us and build this event. We know that, as an industry, we are stronger when we stand together, and each individual, each organisation, can be more successful by being here in London, where so very much is happening.
Please pull me aside and say hello. There is no value greater than that which comes from strengthening existing relationships and establishing new ones.
Of course, you can do more than read about it by actually attending.
You can register right here!
Hope to see you in London.