The ‘so much more’ promise of Africa’s Big 7 expo

Africa’s premier food and beverage event is forecast to welcome more than 12,000 people to Johannesburg at the end of June as part of Africa Hospitality Week 2018.

Africa’s Big 7, now in its 16th year, runs from June 24 to 26 at The Gallagher Convention Centre presenting thousands of products and services, from new foods and ingredients to packaging and processing solutions alongside a new centrepiece conference, The Food Leaders Forum.

The event attracts exhibitors from all over the world and among them this year is Eco Trade with its bakery mixes, recipes and additives for cakes and bread manufactured in Poland. Export manager Marek Galwas says: “We chose AB7 as the ideal venue to meet new clients from across southern Africa.”

There’s also an historic chocolatier from Iran, Shoniz, and a Portuguese olive oil exporter, Mirazeite.

Great conference content and speakers

The Food Leaders Forum runs for three days covering key issues facing the food industry – from the effects of climate change and water shortages through to the latest food flavourings and ingredients.

“The Food Leaders Forum offers presentations and panel discussions on the key strategic opportunities and challenges shaping the F&B industry at this time of accelerated expansion and change in Africa,” said Christine Davidson, Vice President of organiser, dmg events MEA.

It will look at the listeriosis deaths in South Africa this year considering how to ensure it never happens again alongside a session on understanding new health regulations for the food industry. Expert panelists include Prof Lise Korsten, of the Centre of Excellence in Food Security is co-hosted by the University of the Western Cape and University of Pretoria and Prof Elna Buys, head of food microbiology at Pretoria.

One session already attracting strong interest is how the blockchain will solve food fraud: the consumer knows what they are eating, and the supplier understands where the food originated. Panelists include Raynor Damons, head chef at Signature Brands.

Food security is a leading concern for the region and there’s a session on Day 1 titled “Climate change and food security: can we survive and thrive?” Speakers include Dr Jemina Moeng, South Africa’s DoAFF Chief Director: Food Security.

Another session on Day 1 tackles an issue that has made headlines in South Africa after the Cape faced its worst drought ever. The session explores the future under the title “Prepare to save water, and you will save your business”.

There’s also a masterclass to understand the new R364 regulation covering hygiene on food premises and transport of food.

There isn’t enough land on the planet to satisfy worldwide animal protein consumption. Billions of people have never eaten a steak meal – and never will. So, what are the protein alternatives? On Day 2 Bruce Cohen, CEO of Absolute Organix, takes a look at the future of food and how consumers can be convinced.

Then there’s a panel discussion on new products coming to a supermarket near you containing smarter, healthier and more nutritious ingredients as well as an examination of the alternatives to salt and the future of food labelling.

The conference also takes a look at the top food and drink trends changing with panelists including Raynor Damons, head chef at Signature Brands, while Marco Monteiro, MD of Firmenich South & East Africa, is part of a panel talking about the future of flavourings, and what’s set to be the 2018-19 winner.

Africa’s Big 7 and The Food Leaders Forum runs from June 24 to 26 at The Gallagher Conference Centre, Johannesburg, alongside The Hotel Show Africa and iHost, which together make up Africa Hospitality Week 2018.

And there’s more…

Africa’s Big 7 – like all dmg events’ shows – offers lots of entertainment too. There is free barista and mixology training allowing visitors to develop skills in two of the hottest drink trends: coffee and liquor.

This year’s Farmers Day training addresses conservation agriculture and farm management systems, the effect of climate predictions for the next 90 years on selected crops in SA, scaling up climate smart agriculture, financial solutions for smallholder farmers and route to market.

Speakers include Dr Ikalafeng Kgakatsi, Director: Climate change & disaster management, DAFF; Klaas Mampholo, Acting Director: Land use & soil management, DAFF; Angelo Plaatjies, Commercial banker: Commercial development banking, Land & Agricultural Bank of SA; presented by Khumbuzile Mosoma, Senior Manager: Agriculture Development, National Agricultural Marketing Council.

Visitors can also watch head-to-head chef competitions with teams from the nation’s leading hotel kitchens compete to produce a three-course menu from pre-specified local foods in fully functional kitchens built inside the exhibition hall.

The Inter Hotel Culinary Cup is organised by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies where teams compete against the clock, and each other. The show will also build on an onsite restaurant where the finished food can be judged… then be sampled by selected guests.

For the first time ever this year, the Global Pizza Challenge has moved to Africa’s Big 7 where passionate independent pizza chefs will demonstrate their gastronomic masterpieces first-hand.

The competition is celebrating its 10th birthday this year and the South African winner will walk away with a trophy, R15K in cash and will head off for the international final.

Learn more about Africa’s Big 7 and The Food Leaders Forum at