The second day is about packaging and production with attendees including plant owners and managers alongside engineers and machinery experts from the food sector. As well as new innovations, there will be sessions on enhancing productivity, improving supply chains and understanding the changing expectation of consumers. Among the speakers are Paul Raphaely, Co-Founder of Nomu Brands, revealing exclusive consumer research and how it acts as a guide to the future.

Mark Sack, the MD of Sally Williams Fine Foods, is a key panellist at The Food Forum, who brings two decades of experience. In the past 18 months, he’s overseen the launch of a new ice cream manufacturing plant as well as a foray into retail in the upmarket district of Sandton, Johannesburg. He has the breadth of experience and first-hand knowledge to share.

Some tips to attract attendees to your stand (a successful exhibitor)

For exhibitors, we offer our full marketing support to them. Obviously, it depends on the product, there will be a different way to engage a visitor if you are demonstrating new packaging machinery compared with say a company producing flavourings or a beverage, for example.

This year we will be introducing a phone app to give visitors easy access to what companies are exhibiting and what to see. So, exhibitors should think carefully about their description and know who their target customer is. We can help with all of this and are in constant touch with all of our exhibitors to ensure they meet the right people during the three days.

Your event welcomes international professionals…Could you give us some advice about business etiquette in South Africa?

South Africa is an international place of business and there is no specific cultural pitfall awaiting anyone used to Western business practice. English remains the language of business there is no expectation to provide translations for example. I arrived in this country a year ago and my business dealings have all been highly professional. I’d advise anyone to behave in the same professional manner that they would anywhere else in the world – and make sure you listen, of course, nodding to demonstrate that you really are.

There are some specific rules and regulations that importers, and exporters, need to learn but we will be dealing with that at one of our conference session workshops. We believe South Africa holds no barriers to successful business, work with your partners there and the opportunities are amazing.

Finally, can you give us some participation results of the 2016 edition?

The show is co-located with SAITEX and last year we saw more than 14,000 participants with more than 800 exhibitors at the Gallagher Conference Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg.

This year AB7 alone is on target to have more than 300 exhibitors and, as part of the new Retail & Hospitality Week 2017, these two established shows will be joined by The Hotel Show Africa, marking the launch of one of the world’s most successful show brands here in Africa. We are confident that the whole Retail & Hospitality Week programme is unique and will attract thousands of industry professionals.