A stern bodyguard ushers me forward and scans the pass on my lanyard, the handheld machine quips a resounding beep, flashes green and security allow me to move on.
It’s the final day of the International Food Exhibition, based in London, 2015 and the busy atmosphere has no chance of diminishing. The event, which runs for three days is a consortium where food manufacturers, importers and exporters come to show their wares to various distributors, retailers and general food lovers. The exhibition is held in the ExCel arena based in the London Docklands area. I’ve been to the capital probably five times in my life, so this is quite surreal to me and I can’t help but break into tourist mode and Snapchat various surrounding buildings.
I’m a little nervous as I’m here alone, representing a company that I’ve been employed with for a mere three weeks. I felt my boss must have bumped her head when she handed over the business card and told me to book a day return to London.
I stand for a while taking it all in: the room is a vast expanse of stalls, aisles with people: smiling, trays in hand, enticing you to sample their goods. I recce the area using the trusty IFE guide that doesn’t live up to it’s purpose of being portable and easy to use. The guide is so heavy that it would make any coffee table struggle under its weight and throughout the day I have to switch arms to prevent the onset of bicep cramp. The floor of the ExCel is split into coloured sections to represent each food segment. Like any sane person I hit the yellow segment first, which represents cheese. I love all things cheese, including jokes. As I need to Brie careful (ha!) that I don’t overdo the sampling as it’s only 10 am, I invest wisely.
Before you think I’m just here for the samples I should probably explain why a translation agency is at a food convention. The reason we’re here is because it’s relevant, or should I say, we’re relevant. In pitching this idea to me, my boss explained how we work with many food clients, translating their packaging, materials and websites for overseas ventures and have specialised linguists in each of the food sectors. We agreed it would be very beneficial for Talking Heads to touch base at IFE and show our talents to up and coming food firms.
After swallowing my nerves (and cubes of vintage cheddar), I plucked up the courage to advertise our services to the food firms, and I didn’t stop for six hours – we absolutely understand these food manufacturers, large and small and I was delighted to introduce our helpful services to new contacts. I was constantly milling about, tasting, talking, and gaining contacts. The experience was great, I had been thrown out of my comfort zone, in at the deep end and I took to it like a duck to water.
The day progressed quickly as I got lost in the maze of stalls, chats and business cards. At 4pm, when the exhibition closed and most were leaving, I stood cramped on the tube back to King’s Cross, exhausted. I reflected on the day: what I learnt was unquantifiable, the contacts essential, the food indescribable.
IFE has recently uploaded an infographic of the statistics of the 2015 event.
If you would like to know more about what Talking Heads can offer food and drinks manufacturers please click here.