Food show gets culinary students involved
Culinary students helped the Butterfield & Vallis Food Trade Show celebrate its twenty-first birthday as the event returned to its inaugural Bermuda College venue.
The food wholesaler and distributor has hosted the students at its Woodlands Road warehouse this week to give them experience of the business.
At yesterday's trade show, they were paired with each of the 20 participating suppliers to learn about different meats, cheeses and other products.
Alun Hughes, the general manager of Butterfield & Vallis, said the College hosted the company's first trade show in 1997. “It was fantastic to bring it back to its inaugural, spiritual home,” he added.
Butterfield & Vallis is celebrating its 100th year and attributes its enduring success to solid principles.
“You have to acknowledge the community you serve and you have to respect your suppliers and I think that's what enables us to go through the first hundred years,” Mr Hughes said.
The show has proven popular for many years among customers and suppliers. There were several reasons for staging the event, he added.
“The first is to showcase our suppliers — they have to be the best, most progressive and the most dynamic,” he said. “We want to showcase the suppliers to have relationships directly with our customers.
“The second thing is to allow our customers to have the same experience if they were attending this kind of event in the US.
“Customers enjoy the fact that they can spend a couple of hours seeing the new trends and discussing that with the key players.
“The final thing it allows our staff to celebrate in what we do. Our staff genuinely enjoy saying ‘this is what we do'.”
With people becoming more health conscious, and aware of what they are consuming, The Royal Gazette asked if the company has noticed changes in product sales as some locals turn towards a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Mr Hughes replied: “My children have also turned vegan and vegetarian for ethical reasons. Yes, I do notice this.”
The company went through a stern test of its logistical capability last year when Bermuda hosted the America's Cup and food demand spiked in May and June. Mr Hughes described that time as “amazing”.
“Our challenge was to make sure we had enough for our existing customers and we didn't want to be distracted and criticised, because your favourite restaurants ran out of food,” he said.
“We are glad that did not happen. Our buyers, who work with very sophisticated software, were able to project what the volumes were going to be, measure against those projections and order accordingly.
“So as demand increased slightly ahead of that curve the buyers were ordering more in readiness for it, so it was genuinely a seamless activity.”