Businesses from across the east have been given a taste of the region’s multi-billion pound hospitality industry during the launch of a new trade fair.

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Case study: Top Farm Eggs

A Great-Snoring based egg supplier said the new trade fair has provided leads with potential clients.

David Perowne, the co-director of Top Farm Eggs, was cooking quale’s eggs on his stand at the exhibition – as well as displaying ducks, goose and hen’s eggs.

Mr Perowne, whose farm business employs seven people and has 26,000 hens, 2,000 laying quail, 900 geese and 300 ducks, said his ambition was to break away from contracts with egg packaging companies in order to supply its produce directly.

He said: “We have had three or four very nice leads today. We are interested to selling to shops and restaurants and the Norfolk Expo is perfectly suited to what we are looking for. It is very different from what some of the producers maybe looking for because it is a trade-only sector.”

He added: “Our ambition is to become an important egg producer, so we wont have any contracts with egg packing companies, and will deal directly with suppliers. Year-on-year we have seen our business grow by 80pc, and most of that has happened by word of mouth. The trade show is beneficial because you never know what you are going to sell or who you are going to meet.”

More than 100 exhibitors took part in the Norfolk Expo yesterday, where local suppliers were given the chance to boost their profile and meet potential clients.

The two-day event, which continues at the Norfolk Showground today, features local producers and cookery demonstrations from leading chefs – including celebrity cook Jean-Christophe Novelli.

It comes just days after the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership announced its vision to grow businesses and create jobs within Norfolk and Suffolk’s food and agricultural industry, which employs 81,000 people and has a £9.8bn turnover.

Mark Carr, co-director of 4Hospitality Marketing and co-organiser of the event, said the trade fair had helped smaller businesses access the wider economy.

He said: “I think it helps on a number of levels. First and foremost, the obvious one is that suppliers and retailers can source new products, and local alternatives. But it is more than that, it is an opportunity for businesses to share information and do business around the room. Exhibitors are able to do business with other exhibitors and to feel part of a bigger economy.”

Yesterday’s event saw about 400 people descend on the Norfolk Showground – with organisers looking to welcome 2,000 people by the time it closes.

Jean Christophe Novelli entertained traders in the morning with a Valentine’s day-inspired cookery demonstration, while in the afternoon, traders listened to a presentation by Dr Liliya Serazetdinova from InCrops.

Martin Lake, chairman of the Buy Local initiative, said: “I think this event is fantastically useful. Suppliers need to meet their potential market and that is exactly what this exhibition is all about. You set out your stand and you know you have great products, and you now need to meet people who are going to take it to market for you.”

Andy Wood, chairman of the LEP, said: “Food, drink and agriculture account for over 81,000 jobs in Norfolk and Suffolk and the sector is vital to our economy. There are exciting opportunities for growth which we are looking to explore through forging links to other growth sectors, such as energy, tourism, and advanced manufacturing and Life Science.”

• To hear audio interviews from the trade fair, click on the links in the right hand corner of the story.

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