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Redefining The Food and Beverage Value Chain Through Leadership and Innovation

The 21st edition of Africa’s Big 7 wrapped up three days of insights, innovation and conversation at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Co-located with the Hotel & Hospitality Expo Africa and SAITEX Africa, Africa’s Big 7 2024 hosted industry leaders and decision-makers for discussions around redefining the food and beverage chain, and introduced the inaugural Game of Chefs, a culinary competition for up-and-coming young chefs.

“Over the course of the week, attendees networked with professionals, thought leaders and buyers at an event focused on connecting trends and insights to real-world situations. This year, Africa’s Big 7 connected top players within the industry and opened up authentic conversations around the challenges facing the industry,” said Margaret Peters, Event Manager: Food & Hospitality at dmg events.

The event’s focus on transformation was reflected in its opening keynote ‘Transforming Africa’s food system – Tackling food insecurity through innovations and partnerships’. The presentation focused on the need for diverse and innovative food and beverage products and culinary experiences that drive the sustainability agenda and meet the need of Africa’s rapidly growing population. Mikes Kubheka, the Founder of Wakanda Food Accelerator, said: “It’s important to gain insight into how to navigate the future of Africa’s food systems, how innovation is reshaping food categories and transforming investment opportunities, and what technologies are working to solve supply chain challenges.”

Day one included a panel discussion entitled ‘Finding the Formula – What new ingredients and flavours are driving innovation’, focused on new taste choices and sustainable developments and how these can be translated into business efficiency and cost savings; a fireside chat on ‘Sustainability – Journey to a net-zero future’ that unpacked what environmental transparency means for the bottom line; and exclusive interviews with influencers and leaders in the industry around thinking global while acting local.

One of the particularly relevant and insightful events on day one was an in-depth panel discussion on ‘Food mapping – Mitigating food waste and supporting sustainable growth’ with Nicola Jenkin, Director of Pinpoint Sustainability as the moderator, and Steffen Burrows, Head of Sustainability at Pick ‘n Pay; Pavitray Pillay, Behaviour Change Practitioner at WWF South Africa; and Matlou Setati, Executive: Food Safety and Sustainability Initiative at the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGSCA). The discussion touched on critical concerns for the country and the continent with Setati opening the conversation around food insecurity and the need for finding ways of addressing this, with Burrows echoing her sentiments, emphasising the importance of sustainability. As Pillay said, “What people don’t realise is when they waste a plate of food, they’re wasting energy, soil, health, labour, water and biodiversity.”

It is critical, said the panellists, to prioritise food accessibility, reduce waste, and find a way of reimaging the value chain.

Returning for its third year, the Enterprise Development Pavilion, sponsored by the Johannesburg Convention Bureau, provided a dedicated space for SMMEs to showcase their cutting-edge products and services. Thandubuhle Mgudlwa, Chief Executive Officer, The Johannesburg Tourism Company said: “Our Enterprise Development Pavilion provides a dedicated space for SMMEs to showcase their cutting-edge products and services. This platform connects them with key industry buyers, fostering valuable exposure and market access. Through this initiative, we empower these businesses to thrive and contribute to the dynamic future of food and beverage.”

On day two, the event kicked off with the spotlight presentation entitled ‘Insights into the latest mega retail trends’ presented by Andrea Ellens, Retail Expert and Head of Business Development at Trade Intelligence.  Opening her presentation against the backdrop of the current economic landscape and the challenges influencing consumer and retail confidence, Ellens unpacked some of the interesting global and local trends shaping the industry today.

The global trends to watch out for are around Metail, the personalised shopping experience; the rise of retail media investment to gain consumer attention; meeting the needs of the octopus shopper with omnichannel experiences that are seamless and harmonious; leveraging artificial intelligence to drive agility; and prioritising initiatives to create a green trolley. As Ellens said: “One of the big local trends is an explosion of more stores with brands like ShopRite and Clicks prioritising accessibility for shoppers and diversification.”

Also taking place on day two was a presentation on ‘The future of retail in South Africa’ by Ceri Coxton, Head of Customer Experience at Woolworths South Africa. She said, “Technology is changing everything we do in retail across the board and we need to ensure experiences are seamless and sustainability remains a priority.”

The day also included a discussion on ‘Private Labels – why are these brands transforming innovation in a time of disruption’; and a fireside chat with Bronwyn Williams, Futurist, Economist & Business Trends Analyst at Flux Trends, Brett Thomson, Co-Founder and CEO of Newform Foods, and Martin Dovey, Founder of CACG Technology Strategy and Management Consulting, discussing ‘From cell to scale – how the food industry can be part of cultivating meat’.

Mongezi Mtati, Senior Brand Strategist at Rogerwilco, hosted a spotlight presentation on the ‘Kasi Economy – Tapping into the growing township economy and what you need to know’. Matati said: “Brands have a long-distance relationship with townships but change is on the horizon with the rise of Kasi alternatives and an increase in supermarket spend.”

Also on the day was a panel discussion around ‘Culinary innovation – how are menus adapting?’; a spotlight presentation on ‘Supply chain optimisation reimagined’; and ‘Major trends redefining food service and convenience’.

Returning events at the show included the Global Pizza Challenge, the National Burger Challenge, the South African Bakers Challenge and the show welcomed the inaugural The Game of Chefs.

“With a record 4,922 attendees and 179 exhibitors at this year’s event, it was immensely successful with an impressive turnout and exceptional speakers. Africa’s Big 7 remains a premier event for the industry in Africa.” Peters concludes.

For more information visit www.africabig7.com

About dmg events – South Africa

dmg events is a leading organizer of face-to-face events and publisher of trade magazines and information services. Our aim is to create dynamic marketplaces to connect businesses with the right communities to accelerate their growth in today’s rapidly evolving landscape.

With a presence in over 20 countries and organizing more than 90 events each year, dmg events is a global leader in the industry. Attracting over 425,000 attendees and delegates annually, we organize events in the construction, hospitality, interiors & design, energy, coatings, entertainment, food & beverage, and transportation sectors.

To better serve our customers, dmg events has offices in 10 countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, South Africa, the UK, Canada, Singapore, and India. By being on the ground, we can better understand market needs and nurture relationships to create unforgettable experiences for our attendees.

Our flagship events including the Big 5 Global, ADIPEC, Gastech, EGYPES, The Hotel Show, INDEX and The Saudi Food Show. For more information visit www.dmgevents.com Founded in 1989, dmg events is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc (DMGT, www.dmgt.co.uk).

About Africa’s Big 7

Celebrating its 21st edition, Africa’s Big 7 continues to be THE retail-ready food and beverage trade event in Africa. Our event brings together a global lineup of exhibitors, food and beverage communities, and industry leaders. It’s a prime hub for sourcing, trendspotting, and connecting with top trade buyers and influencers. Our 2024 edition will set a new benchmark, showcasing the potential to transform the food and beverage landscape in this dynamic region and beyond.

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