London: Innoveat, a day-long event of healthy snacks and drinks aimed exclusively at the travel and leisure sector, had its third annual outing here in October.
An eye-catching array of Innovative brands and products designed for airlines, airline caterers, airport lounges, trains and train caterers, ferries, cruises and hotels attracted professionals eager to talk business with a host of exhibitors at the Park Inn hotel situated close to the capital’s busy Heathrow airport.
Destination Reporter India encountered an air of optimism in the spacious hall and spoke to a number of exhibitors. Many, new and established, are already selling to supermarkets and independent outlets and would like to either increase their involvement with the lucrative travel and leisure sector or start to make their mark. Also on show were biodegradable cleaning and packaging products,
Fiona Morgan, head of Ferrero’s foodservice said the company, one of the world’s largest confectioners, has a portfolio that includes Nutella, Thorntons, Ferrero Rocher, tic tac and Tinder. Their bestselling Nutella 15g single-serve pack enables customers to have their “favourite spread in a hygienic format, with portion control”. Their tic tac mint, she said, “is ideal for reception areas, snack boxes, guest rooms and also to present to customers along with bills”. The company’s chocolates and bite-sized Kinder Minis are also in demand, she said. Widely travelled, Fiona “loves India and the very friendly people” and would like to go back when she retires. She found Mumbai “fascinating” and fell in love, whilst in Goa, with the state’s “spicy and delicious fish curry.”
Another exhibitor, with a yearning to visit India, was Cecily Mills, founder of Coconuts Naturally, a dairy-free and organic coconut-based ice cream “made without nuts or soya,” she told us. “We take organic coconut cream, organic and unrefined coconut sugar and add in superfoods whenever we can, like raw cacao in our chocolate flavour and spirulina in our mint choc chip.” Her ice creams come in five flavours including creamy coconut and rum and raisin. Changing the subject she said, “I have always wanted to visit Kerala as I’ve heard so much about its wonderful beaches and sea food.” She was pleasantly surprised to hear that the word ‘Kerala’ translates into ‘land of the coconut’ and likes to call herself her company’s ‘chief coconut’.
Von Sy, chief executive officer and founder, Nimble, a cleaning products business, is aimed at safely removing messes made by children. He added, “We know that cleaning up is not confined to the home so we came up with products in small boxes, perfect for the travel and leisure industry.” Ingredients used are plant-based. The company exports to several countries including China, Philippines and Iraq and are in discussions with India, he adds.
T-Sticks of London is a special tea-making brand manufactured by Sticksology, a firm co-founded by Ricky Kothari and his best friend Kim Li (they grew up together). Tea-infusion sticks, Ricky said, combines taste and technology to suit travellers. Previously his job involved a lot of travel, hotel stays and working in offices and lounges and as a keen tea drinker he encountered problems like the absence of clean teaspoons or strainers to make a hot beverage safely. So he and Kim invented a recyclable foil-infuser stick of tea which also acts as a stirrer. “No spoon, no mess, no drips,” he said, “and also avoids water wastage.” He chuckled, “We are even selling our tea to China,” with Kim based there to help spread the word.
Skinni Snax, is a nutritious chickpea and soya snack, “double-baked” said manager Richard Ayres, “for extra crispy crunchiness”. It is high in fibre and plant protein, low in salt and fat, and popular everywhere from Ireland to the UAE, as well as supermarkets in the UK.
Koepala develops innovative biodegradable packaging solutions for food on the go, suitable for any type of food or beverage, said marketing director Ben Holden. “Afterwards the pack can be folded and disposed of, reducing packaging waste by 50 per cent.”
HappyDown produces an alcoholic drink range of three fruit flavours infused with herbs and spices. Director Vishal Mair said, “We hope to interest Air India and Jet Airways in our product.” He supplies to British supermarkets and with his business partner, Paritosh Bhandari, is working on more flavours. Born in the UK, Paritosh said he likes to visit his native Punjab regularly. “Life is a lot slower in India but very relaxing,” he said. “Here in the UK life is pretty hectic but we enjoy it.”
JimJams produces healthy chocolate spreads using a ‘naturally-sourced sweetener’ which, said owner Kevin Bath, is “kinder on teeth, suitable for diabetics and low in calories so it’s ideal for people wanting to lose weight”. The product is already available in Virgin Airways lounges and on sale at several British supermarket chains.
Paul Whyte, founder of Str-Eats which produces street food, has travelled the world, sampling food in restaurants as well as street stalls across Asia, including Mumbai, as well as Africa and South America. The amazing flavours that Whyte said he sampled could not be found back in the UK, and the pasties he bought here tasted bland. An Indian friend helped him create pasties with spicy street food appeal. He is now targeting airlines for business. So what did he think of his visit to Mumbai? “Organised chaos,” he said. “But it’s a great city.”
Biomel produces a dairy-free, lactose-free and vegan probiotic drink that is billed as the most delicious, effective and healthy way to promote a healthy gut. Sold in several British supermarkets and independent retailers, it is also popular with British Airways crews, said marketing manager Kelly Stalker. He added, “We are here to interest other airlines and outlets.”
Boundless is a snack-producing firm using bold, exotic flavours and following ancient Aztec and Aborigine techniques of soaking and baking nuts and seeds to activate their goodness, said stand representative Talia Slade. “Then we add fierce flavours such as tamari and aleppo chilli, rosemary and cayenne, turmeric and smoked paprika. It’s a gutsy snack.”
The West Cornwall Pasty Company produces handmade pasties bursting full of taste and flavours. They are on sale at train stations, airports, petrol stations and high street shops. “What’s more,” said brand manager Sonia Hebrard, “We have 16 flavours including Thai green and chicken curry, and our packaging ensures that the product stays hot for longer.”
Sonia enjoyed her visit to India, finding the Golden Triangle tour “a bit hectic but very enjoyable.” She also loved relaxing on Goa’s beaches.
Bonta Italia, said its commercial director Giamba Brocca, are always developing new recipes and ideas. “Our latest ingredients include onion pesto, beetroot pesto and vegan pesto. Our slogan is ‘Eat well, live well’.” They are geared to supply everything from single portion sizes to bulk orders.
Event director Heerum Fleary wrote in the show guide that visitors were “guaranteed to be impressed with the innovative food and beverage concepts” on display. She added that Innoveat publishes two product catalogues a year and a monthly newsletter to keep everyone in touch with product innovation. Innoveat has launched its own brand of snack boxes called NavigATE covering 14 different food categories with different dietary requirements in mind, from gluten-free to kosher.
Innoveat was praised by a British Airways representative who said, “A great show, well organised with innovative products, fresh ideas and new suppliers, exactly what I wanted to see. Can’t wait for the next one!”