Celebrating 20 years of Africa’s Big 7and festive foodie features
The local food and beverage market was abuzz at the twentieth edition of Africa’s Big 7, which wrapped up in Johannesburg at the Gallagher Convention Centre last week, co-located with SAITEX.
“Recognising a two decade-long commitment to delivering top quality and reasonably priced, trendy food and beverages, Africa’s Big 7 connected top players in the industry to celebrate innovation, tackle challenges and promote growth,” said Evan Schiff, Portfolio Director: Food, Hospitality and Trade at dmg events, the organiser behind the events.
Africa’s Big 7 served up the latest trends in the African food and beverage market, with a tasty line-up of stalls and seminars representing the entire retail-ready food and beverage sector and attracting purchasing professionals, restaurateurs, chefs, and directors representing both the formal and informal retail and food service trades.
Making sure that the industry is sustainable and accessible, while also considering the well-being of our planet were top themes this year. Moderated by Roelien Havenga, Director of Strategic Advisory at Daymon, an interesting conversation with Nicki Russel, Head of Product and Quality at Pick n Pay and Craige Pershouse, Senior Director for Africa at Daymon revealed some top insights on the future of retail.
Nicki Russel said that a drive towards holistic health is the global trend in play as ‘people and planet’ has become the single most important factor in people’s minds. “They are looking to the future, and we are certainly looking to support local produce, and to find more local suppliers,” Russel said as to sustain the country, will require local supplier support. “Creating value for money is also very important along with a good experience.”
Retail experiences may be more tech-savvy overseas but offered a glimpse into what could come, from ordering produce via a robot to a hybrid store/app experience. But fixing the basics in the local market must come first.
“Being mindful of the market landscape matters and there are restrictions to mastering even the basic experiences,” Havenga commented after Russel reminded attendees that being able to offer clean stores, full fridges and stock on the shelves consistently are challenges to urgently solve as business holds out hope for improvements to electricity supply and other economic concerns.
Craige Pershouse reiterated the importance of understanding your customer and how they shop, and to understand your competition. “You need a point of difference as a retailer to stand out.” Russel added that to create an environment that makes customers want to shop there and that “brings heart back to stores” will also set retailers apart.
With more than half of South Africa’s population residing in the Township Economy, this is a marketplace with immense growth and investment potential, particularly through the right networks, guidance, and mentorship. Africa’s Big 7 strives to be a platform to boost business connections across economies and to inspire creativity and solutions to sustaining food and beverage supply.
A host of new technologies are emerging to help counteract food waste from farm to fork. The power panel discussion on mitigating food waste and supporting sustainable growth deliberated the best practices and solutions for manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. Africa’s Big 7 encompassed a broad range of cuisine and beverages celebrating sustainable suppliers, creative creations, and wholesome fare in between.
Some delicious features at the show this year included the returning SA Bakers’ Challenge and the second National Burger Challenge. Taking top prize for the best burger was Chef Zana Alvaro. The SA Bakers’ Challenge winners were Zethu Makuwa and Ngemetsi Sibanda, as well as Sihle Simelane and Sandra Sithole from the Culinary Chefs Academy in Fourways, and Jarred Fouche and Sibusiswe Ziqubu from the International Hotel School in Benoni.
A new feature was the Africa’s Top Table, hosting the Game of Chefs Youth edition for young chefs to showcase their skills. Afternoons were dedicated to demonstrations and masterclasses by some of South Africa’s top chefs, allowing the audience to hear their inspiration and how they prepare their most famous dishes.
Africa’s Big 7 will return next year in a new venue – the Sandton Convention Centre. See you in 2024!