Fine Food Australia returned to the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre on 15-18 September. Over 1,000 industry suppliers, including 41 international countries, exhibited a wide range of products from packaged foods, beverages and ingredients to equipment and services.

The annual event celebrated its 30th birthday and exhibition areas included Gluten Free, Natural and Organic lines. Organizer Diversified Communications said the show attracts over 24,000 buyers. Australian and South American exhibitors reported to OWN good contacts were made with existing and new customers.

At the PROMPERU stand, Mr Arturo Zevallos P. said that Fine Food had been a good show. Retailers and wholesalers were showing interest in organic cacao and chocolate products including Kinuabar energy bars and snacks and La Orquidea organic certified chocolates.

“While there may be not so many people here, we made quality contacts; visitors spoken with were interested in Peruvian products. We also saw people who are already customers of Peru,” he said. “We’re looking to diversify our product exports to Australia beyond quinoa and maca.”

At the Ecuador Embassy stand were the leading Pacari Chocolate, already in the Australian market for a few years, Kiwa natural snack foods and Xocolatl’s range of organic and natural products.

Kiwa gained a very good reception and feedback from retailers and potential customers for its range of all natural and sustainably produced vegetable chip products, according to Johanna Angulo at the company’s stand.

Carlos Gallegos-Anda of Xocolatl Brokers showed Runa energy drinks, Kuna organic chocolates, Chocoe chocolates and Ancient grains such as quinoa, with a focus on products from organic and sustainable farming communities.

Daabon Organic Australia didn’t launch any new products this year, but CEO Sergio Correa said Fine Food had been a good show, with the organic ingredients supplier seeing both new and existing customers.

Organic snack foods manufacturer Yarra Valley Snack Foods was having a good show on the third day. The firm launched an all-natural, gluten-free popcorn called Goody Goody.

Product development in Thomas Chipman organic snack foods is ongoing due to increased demand for its products, while factory upgrades resulted in a 50 per cent increase in production capacity.

At Proexport Colombia was Procafecol’s international retail director for major coffee brandJuan Valdez, Maria Paula Moreno Realphe.She said that Juan Valdez, which is USDA certified organic, will launch in Australia only for espresso coffee and that the brand had attracted interest from major supermarkets at the show.

Spiral Foods gained a good reception for its new Tastes of the Mediterranean certified organic grocery products. At another Spiral stand, Austrian brand Verival launched its lines of breakfast cereals, mueslis and porridges in Australia.

At Love Chai Love Tea, Emma Watson said the certified organic and Fairtrade tea company is growing the range and gained good interest from retailers.

“Sales are still growing by double-digits and being certified organic, and using sustainable and recycled packaging and soy based inks is helping,” Ms Watson said.

Eco-Farms also had a very successful Fine Food show and signed up 170 new retailers. “We were visited by many buyers from Asia and South East Asia that have shown interests in the Absolute Organic range,” said Eco-Farms grocery manager Matt Azadi.

Supplier of South American certified organic foods Olive Green Organics gained good interest from buyers and met current and new customers, including Asian export enquiries. Founder Camilla Mahony said it was the company’s first time at Fine Food. She was happy with the numbers and quality of the buyers.

Despite being in the gluten-free area, she had spoken with a lot of new people. “The challenge is to evaluate new export markets. We have been doing quinoa-based products, pastas, snack lines and cereals, and the Good Fish range, and while products have always gone into the health arena, there is considerable interest here and overseas in more mainstream grocery channels,” Ms Mahony said.

ProChile also had a great response at Fine Food. “Many visitors showed a lot of interest in our organic produce, especially organic berries, nuts and olive oils,” said Nicolás Birrell, senior trade advisor, Export Promotion Bureau, Embassy of Chile. “Our companies made several commercial agreements with Australian, New Zealand and Asian companies”.