A COUNTY fare held its first trade expo and attracted exhibitors from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Business owners flocked to Southampton Football Club on March 20 for the Hampshire Fare's first trade exhibition.

This event was an chance to discover the innovation and entrepreneurship of the businesses and services supporting the region’s food, drink and craft sector.

These services include businesses providing sustainable packaging choices, opportunities to export by sail, and innovative dedicated software for food production businesses.

Hampshire County Council used the event to introduce and explain the new Hampshire 2050 Directive with economic prosperity at the core of the Council’s priorities.

Hampshire Chronicle: Hampshire Fare organised a trade expo in Southampton on March 24.Hampshire Fare organised a trade expo in Southampton on March 24. (Image: Cath Lowe Photography)

Natalie Wigman, assistant director at Regeneration and Growth, believes the "future is bright" for members as "huge opportunities" present themselves when they work together.

She added: ‘”Today presents a fantastic opportunity to meet with many wonderful businesses who deliver significant value to the Hampshire economy.

"The food, drink, hospitality and craft sectors make a highly significant contribution to Hampshire’s prosperity, to the economy and to local communities and Hampshire is renowned for quality, world-leading standards, and characteristic products."

Commercial manager for the fare Natasha Dochniak said: “Feedback for this, our first trade expo, has been extremely positive, with people appreciative of the opportunity to showcase their businesses, and I am confident next year it will be even bigger and better!”

Hampshire Chronicle: Hampshire Fare commercial manager Natasha Dochniak.Hampshire Fare commercial manager Natasha Dochniak. (Image: Cath Lowe Photography)

Robin Waldman, creative director, RCM Media, a video production company working with BBC Good Food Show and Visit Hampshire, shared examples of engaging social media posts and useful tips on creating content.

Ruth Baker from Simply Safer discussed food safety standards and allergen guidance for food businesses.

Ruth is also an established podcaster and, along with co-presenter Lucy Branson, recorded an episode of the podcast ‘From the other side of the pass’, a resource for the hospitality industry, live from the expo.

Exhibitors at the expo were very positive about outcomes from the event.

Jack Ptolomey, from Challenge Packaging, said: “The hardest thing as a salesperson is getting in front of people and this event does just that, [especially as] Hampshire Fare has a such a diverse range of businesses within its membership.

"We have been approached by New Forest Shortbread and Butler Country Estates, and I intend approaching Harvest.”

Hampshire Chronicle: BankBrothers Merchant Services.BankBrothers Merchant Services. (Image: Cath Lowe Photography)

James Yerkess, BankBrokers Merchant Services, Corporate Partners with Hampshire Fare added: “Today was all about community. Events like this help us come together and doing it at Southampton Football Club, which is at the heart of our community, is special.”