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As wholesalers and catering suppliers, tenants at New Spitalfields may have seen a drop-off in the numbers of people actually visiting the market compared to their halcyon days. Deliveries have become a bigger part of the trade, but more than any other sector of the fruit, vegetable and flower supply industry, there remains a reliance on face-to-face interaction with customers.
I’ve always found it a little incongruous therefore that so few traders are present at industry events that play so well to their strengths, when both potential new customers and suppliers are in attendance and the financial outlay is minimal.
In June, New Spitalfields Market will be playing a key role at the London Produce Show and Conference (LPS) and is also sponsoring the Wholesaler of the Year category at the FPC Fresh Awards. The market will be an exhibitor on Thursday June 8 at the largest annual fresh produce exhibition on British shores, as well as hosting a tour of the market for a largely international group of attendees at LPS on Friday June 9. Sandwiched in between is the FPC Fresh Awards, the glitzy industry awards that recognise great achievement across our sector – and New Spitalfields sponsors the category that rewards outstanding performers in our own sector.
New Spitalfields is a regular attendee at events that raise the exposure of the market and every one of the traders operating within it. All of the things happening over those two June days will have a positive impact on the reputation of the market.
Yet relatively few traders make the effort, which is a real shame.
The LPS event was set up in London for a number of reasons, but amongst them was the presence of such a robust wholesale market network. It’s the perfect platform for London’s wholesale markets to showcase their continued importance to the London food scene. All wholesalers and catering suppliers working out of a terminal wholesale market are entitled to attend the exhibition for free. Retailers, chefs and catering students are there in abundance, as well as more than 100 exhibitors and 1800 attendees from all corners of the world.
You could meet any one of them face to face. I understand the fact that the timings of either the show or the awards don’t necessarily fit in with the hours of a wholesale market. But very little does when all’s said and done. As someone who has been heavily involved with both of these events over the years, I’ve spoken to many wholesalers and catering businesses who have attended, and it is rare for them to have come away feeling that it was a waste of their time.
At the very least, being part of pan-industry events keeps the market in the middle of things, part of the discussion and the debate, and part of the produce industry’s rich tapestry. That translates for individual businesses too, of course – if you’re not there at a major industry gathering created for you in your own city, then where are you as a firm?
In holistic terms, just 15 or 20 traders from New Spitalfields would make a massive impact, but on a company-by-company basis, there is so much to be gained by being on that exhibition floor on June 8, and sacrificing a few hours in the business to further your long-term prospects.
I know for a fact the tenants association would value you being there to bolster their presence, and of course you will see the group that tours the market on the Friday morning. Click on the links above for more info on both events – I guarantee it will be worth your while if you buy into them.