Anyone lucky enough to have chosen Italy for their summer holiday this year has probably come back home thwarted and frustrated that you can’t re-create the quality of the food and wine you can find in every nook and cranny of the country. Which is where Bellavita Expo comes. A trade show dedicated to showcasing the best importers in the UK of the finest Italian produce and wines that can make those holiday dreams come true back here in the UK. It’s a show that started life in London, but is now hosted in 10 countries around the world. Here’s what you can expect from this November’s show.
This year’s Bellavita Expo has been expanded to also cover some of the best Mediterranean wines and food available in the UK. Here we talk to event director, Claudia Galetta, about what buyers can expect.
Tell us the background to Bellavita. How did it start and how have you grown it over the years?
Bellavita Expo was born in London to provide a critical link for UK-based buyers to connect with the best producers of Italian-made food and beverages. Within a few years, it’s grown to be the largest event of its kind in Europe and we’re now proudly a world leader in this sector, running 10 shows annually across the globe, throughout Europe, Asia and America. Over 1,000 Italian companies have chosen Bellavita as an integral part of their export strategy.
In January 2019, Italy’s largest domestic food and beverage exhibit organisers, Veronafiere & Fiere di Parma, purchased a 50% stake in Bellavita Expo.
This year, for its sixth London edition, Bellavita Expo goes Mediterranean, offering a far wider range of products than ever before!
Why should buyers and sommeliers attend Bellavita?
Bellavita is an event for the trade, by the trade, with buyers attending the show to source new products and opportunities. More than just a trade show though, it is an open platform for sourcing, promotion and education for everyone in the industry to find out what is new, meet their peers, and attend guided tastings and insightful presentations.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without the strong relationships we have built across the years with our partners that have made our shows so successful. Everyone has something to offer us and to others, and it is a pleasure to work in this industry.
You run shows all over the world. How do you choose which countries and cities to go to?
They choose us, actually! We work in partnership with some of the largest trade shows in the world, such as the National Restaurant Show in America, Restaurant Canada Show, IFE China, WorldFood Poland, Abastur in Mexico, Food & Hotel Thailand, Internorga in Germany, and Horecava in Amsterdam.
These colossal trade shows need to respond to the ever-growing market demand for authentic Italian food, and their solution is always to invite us to be part of their show. After our own assessment and appraisal, we select the partner that we believe will best help us deliver our programme, and launch the Bellavita Italian Pavilion within those shows.
A win-win for the buyers, the producers and the organisers – not to mention for us, of course. When everyone is happy, business flourishes.
As well as the chance to taste and discover new wines and food what sort of content and seminars do you have planned?
The show will feature five theatres, each dedicated to a specific market segment – BeWine, BeFood, BeBeer, BeMix and The Pizza Academy. Here, guests may sample products on display while learning about current and upcoming trends, innovative wine pairings and masterclasses by industry leaders.
Do you have plans to grow even more internationally?
Yes, we do. This year’s event is only the beginning of us expanding our product offering into the Mediterranean region. On top of our ever-popular Italian range, products from Spain, Croatia, Slovenia and more providing guests an even more diverse, valuable experience.
Are the shows quite similar in all the countries you go to or how do they differ?
Each market we operate our shows in come with their own unique sets of challenges – buyers in China or Thailand will have different needs and expectations to buyers from Germany or America. That’s why we work closely with local organisations to guarantee that we provide our guests worldwide the most tailor-made, informative experience that we possibly can.
Why did you decide to host Bellavita in London?
As the hub of the international Mediterranean F&B trade – the Italian National Institute of Statistics estimates Italian food exports to the UK were worth €3.4 billion in 2018 – and home to some fantastic Italian chefs and sommeliers, London is the perfect location for our leading Bellavita Expo. Though it is the toughest market we operate in, we enjoy the challenge. We believe that the year-on-year growth of our event is testament to our work, and the receptiveness of our partners.
What have the shows been like so far?
This is the sixth edition of our London event – so you could say that they have been going very well so far. No two shows are the same, though, as we see how the market changes and how new trends come to dominate discussion and demand, but we are happy to meet these demands and innovate the format year on year, to keep the Bellavita offering fresh and relevant.
What are you looking to do in 2019 that is different to before?
The most substantial difference at 2019’s London Expo is expanding our focus from being solely about made-in-Italy goods to representing the wider Mediterranean area. This will give buyers in attendance an unprecedented choice of goods and opportunities this year.
On top of our five new academies, the Private Label Zone is also a new addition this year, an exclusive platform dedicated to connecting buyers with producers of private label goods, with wine to be very much of a focus here too.
What specifically is of interest to people working in the wine industry about Bellavita?
Naturally, with our expanded product range comes a much greater selection of Mediterranean wines for guests to sample, supported by a programme of high-quality educational tasting with Masters of Wine and WSET, and a keynote programme featuring 84 leading speakers.
This year, we have a strong focus on low-intervention, biodynamic organic wines, including wines from volcanic and high-altitude regions, which are poised to double their market share in the next few years. Sparkling wines, which remain ever popular, will also be very much present at the show.
Are you still looking for importers and suppliers and producers of Italian wine to take part?
We are always on the lookout for more importers, suppliers and producers of Italian wine who wish to promote themselves at our event. And now, of course, the opportunity to present at Bellavita is now open to exhibitors from the entire Mediterranean, so we are hoping to appeal to even more producers than before. It won’t be long now before the show is sold out, as it usually happens in London, so I urge anyone interested to be quick to get in touch!
Are you having special tastings at Bellavita for sommeliers and buyers to come to?
The event features our BeWine area, full of activities dedicated to exploring current and upcoming trends in Mediterranean wine. Thanks to the support of some of the best Masters of Wine in the industry and the WSET, we’re strongly placed to offer our guests the most enlightening, up-to-date industry news and insider knowledge. Within the BeWine area there will be the opportunity to taste Croatia, Spanish, Slovenian and Greek wines, among others.
How can buyers and sommeliers best use their time at Bellavita?
We welcome buyers and sommeliers to apply to be judges as part of this year’s Bellavita Awards, recognising the best wines on show at the Expo. All judges will be greeted by a concierge upon entry, to help plan their visit at the show, providing a floor map and the keynote programme. Those judges will be granted priority seating in all exclusive wine tasting masterclasses, and visit a dozen of selected stands in their chosen category, contributing to the score that will reward the best products of the show. Anyone interested in judging can get in touch by email, or apply here.
- The Buyer will be hosting a special debate on November 7 at Bellavita Expo featuring leading importers and distributors discussing the following theme: “What points of difference are Italian and Mediterranean wines offering wine buyers and sommeliers in terms of price, quality, styles and stories”. Taking part so far are Fields, Morris & Verdin, Corney & Barrow and Carson & Carnevale. If you would like to join the panel contact Richard Siddle at email@example.com.