lunch! 2019 wows food-to-go sector

lunch! 2019 huge success as record numbers attend

“I’ve attended lunch! for years and it just gets better and more unmissable every time,” Marta Pogroszewska, MD of GAIL’s Bakery

With 400 exhibitors, 62 speakers, 36 keynote sessions in three theatres, and 6,733 attendees, lunch! 2019 won rave reviews from across the café, coffee shop and food-to-go sector.

The only UK event that annually attracts so many of the industry’s leading innovators, influencers, trailblazers and decision makers together in one placeat one time – lunch! was at the centre of the food-to-go world last month. Held over 19-20 September at ExCeL London, the aisles were packed with buyers and buzzing with business being done.

Chris Brazier, lunch!’s group event director, says: “lunch! 2019 was simply our best show yet by a mile. Visitor quality was through the roof, with all the major operators, retailers and caterers – Costa, Starbucks, Caffè Nero, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Greggs, M&S, Boots, Pret, LEON, SSP, Compass, Sodexo and so many more – out in force at their industry show.

Go-to event of the year

“Whether they’re buying food, drink, packaging, technology or equipment – whether they’re from a well-known high street name or are the owner of a local coffee shop – this is the show they all actually enjoy coming to year after year because it just keeps getting better and even more essential. It’s their ‘go to’ for discovering new ideas and concepts that they don’t see anywhere else. This year, there were hundreds of newly launched products vying for their attention down every aisle. It was awe-inspiring!

“Our exhibitors should be very proud – their fantastic innovations will be shaping menus and filling shopping baskets in the weeks, months and year to come. We’d like to say a big thank you to them, plus, of course, our visitors, speakers, associations, media partners and supporters.  We look forward to seeing you all next year.”

“lunch! 2019 was by far the best one yet. We’re pleased to support the only trade show dedicated to the best, most innovative, sector in the food industry,” Guy Meakin, UK food & coffee director at Pret

Thanks to a record rebook, many of this year’s exhibitors will be back at the show for lunch! 2020. Among them are: Atria Concept UK, Chapter Coffee Roasters, DELI LITES, Divine Chocolate, Eat Natural, Follow your Heart UK, KFF, Lacka Foods (UFIT Drinks), ManiLife, Moma Foods, Pollen + Grace, PowerEpos, Rapid Action Packaging (RAP), Seed and Bean, Soreen, T2 tea, The Snaffling Pig Co, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, and VIP Lounge sponsor Magrini.

Big buyers, big business

lunch! visitors annually include some of the biggest buyers in the business. One in five visitors reports a corporate spend of over £5m (a 5% increase on last year), while 15% are responsible for £10m-plus budgets.

The brands they represent include: Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Caffè Nero, Pret A Manger, Greggs, M&S Food, Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado, Aldi, Lidl, Co-op, Morrisons, WHSmith, McColl’s, Holland & Barrett, John Lewis, Nisa, Spar, Iceland, Coffee#1, Harris + Hoole, Puccino’s, Welcome Break, Roadchef, BP, itsu, Crussh, Planet Organic,, SSP Group (Upper Crust, Le Grand Comptoir and Caffè Ritazza), World Duty Free, Eurostar, Easyjet, Gategroup, Booker, David Lloyd Leisure, Compass Group, WSH Group/BaxterStorey, Sodexo, Interserve and Elior.

The visitor list also included over 1,850 independent cafés, coffee shops, sandwich shops, tea rooms, bakeries, delis and quick-service restaurants, plus hundreds of contract and travel caterers, distributors, wholesalers, venues, attractions and universities from across the UK.

Positive feedback

“There is no better platform that is dedicated to the food industry. lunch! 2019 was exciting, inspiring and the show gets bigger and better each year,” says Shereen Ritchie, operations director at LEON.

“Having attended dozens of trade shows over the years in multiple hospitality, travel and leisure sectors, this is unquestionably one of the best. Vibrant, quality players and very engaging,” says Will Stratton-Morris, UK CEO of Caffè Nero.

“The lunch! team smash it out the park yet again. Each year keeps getting better!  Another inspiring year of keynote talks and meeting fantastic innovative suppliers. It’s a date locked in the diary for next year!” says Matt Cundrick, head of convenience format & FTG at McColl’s Retail Group.

“lunch! always attracts the best brands and industry experts, which is a testament to how good it is. I’ll be back again in 2020!” says Rosie Bambaji, buyer – frozen food & plant based at Sainsbury’s Supermarkets.

Keynote highlights

lunch!’s three keynote theatres (including a new Coffee Shop Keynote Theatre) were a hive of activity throughout. There were insightful keynotes and interviews featuring a stellar line-up of food-to-go bosses and senior managers, including Will Stratton-Morris (Caffè Nero), Guy Meakin (Pret A Manger), Hannah Squirrell (Greggs), Barny Clevely (FCB Coffee), Marta Pogroszewska (GAIL’s Bakery), Scott Macdonald (Sourced Market), Nicola Morris (Sodexo), Matt Cundrick (McColl’s), Edward Bentley (Pure), and Ian Chant (Holland & Barrett)., Kantar WorldPanel, IGD, The NPD Group & Springboard, CGA, and MCA Insights shared essential market updates and overviews of the latest trends to watch.

Plus, topical and lively panel sessions featuring Tortilla, LEON, Crussh, Chilango, Eurest, Aramark, CH&CO Group, Elior, Sodexo, HOP Vietnamese, Cojean, K10 Restaurants, British Sandwich & Food to Go Association, and more.

The lunch! 2019 show photos are available to view at

Award winners

Six lunch! exhibitors struck gold at the show, winning coveted Innovation Challenge Awards. Designed to promote and celebrate new ideas in the market, this year’s judges called it a ‘bumper year for innovation’ with a record 110 new products taking part in the competition (15 were voted through to the live final by visitors and VIP buyers at the show).

Gold award-winning innovations include: Berrington Spring Water’s Aluminium Refill Bottle, DRGN Turmeric Superdrink (Citrus flavour), Flower & White’s Salted Caramel Meringue Bites, Jack & Bry’s Jackfruit Pepperoni, Lord Sandwich/FullWrap’s Full Wrap and Magrini’s B285 Blender with App Control.

Cheesies, DELI LITES, Enviroware, Good Root Bakery, PLAYin CHOC and Vita Mojo Operating Systems all received silver awards, while bronze awards went to DELI LITES, FITCH Brew Co and The Curators.

For full product details and images, please visit:

The judges included Paul Ettinger (Caffè Nero), Rosie Bambaji (Sainsbury’s Supermarkets), Shane Kavanagh (Crussh), Louise Direito (Krispy Kreme UK), Kristian Katin (Feed Wagons), Frank Boltman (TRADE), Martyn Clover (Tortilla), Shereen Ritchie (LEON), James Kidman (Crussh), Katie Lister (Chilango), Oliver Rosevear (Costa Coffee), Scott Macdonald (Sourced Market) and Martin Hambleton (En Route International).

“lunch! 2019 delivered in so many exciting ways, with innovation at its core.  For me, this is the must attend event in my calendar,” says Mr Hambleton.

Save the date for lunch! 2020

According to the latest stats from CGA, around 32.7 million people visited a coffee shop in the last six months (up 2.7 million in the last year).  While MCA says food-to-go visits are up 6.4% year-on-year to a massive 4.4 billion. Britain’s appetite for food-to-go has never been bigger and it’s still growing. lunch! will be back at ExCeL London next year showcasing all the latest developments, trends, innovations and insights on 24-25 September 2020.

For further information, visit

Booking for new exhibitors opens at 10am on Tuesday 15 October. Please contact lunch!’s sales manager Nicola Cowles on

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