CRG’s 2024 Annual Exhibition and Conference Kicks Off Summer In Style

The Country Range Group (CRG) kicked off summer in style on Thursday 20th June with over 600 delegates attending its CRG Food Fest 2024 annual exhibition, where over £2.5 million in orders were placed on the day with the 114 suppliers who were in attendance. 

Taking place at the Telford International Centre with a groovy 60s ‘Summer of Love’ theme, the unique trade exhibition, conference and evening dinner has been running for over 25 years and this year’s event was the Country Range Group’s biggest and most successful to date. 

A crucial forum for innovation and ideas, new product launches and demonstrations, face-to-face meetings and for networking, the event also provided the perfect platform for vital discussions around sales strategy, promotions, marketing and customer support ahead of the key summer months.     


114 exhibitors showcased over a thousand products specifically for chefs and caterers across the foodservice spectrum with a host of live demonstrations, on-trend ingredients and samples from around the world for delegates to try.

The Country Range Group’s own brand stand, which had a retro festival twist, showcased its latest own brand products and culinary inspiration including a special menu showcasing the latest food trends. The Winter Wonderland stand helped promote the Group’s entire 2024 festive product range.   

Conference Highlights

Chief Executive Martin Ward provided conference attendees a business update highlighting that in the year to date, CRG are trading 20% up on the same period last year, and in May it had a record trading month at £82 million.

Martin commented; “We exited 2023 with a turnover of just over £850 million. We targeted ourselves to do £1 billion by 2026. At the moment it looks as though we could be close to this at the end of 2024. Some of this growth is from food inflation but a lot of it is from new business wins by our members.”

Addressing the attendees, Martin went onto provide further updates about the Group’s strategy, own brand performance and climate journey detailing:

  • The Group would be staying true to its four pillars: sustainability, data, own brands and scale. 
  • The Group’s refocus on its core principles, emphasising its competitiveness in purchasing, commodities, and in terms.
  • The success of the Group’s own brands – Catering Essentials, Country Range and Signature by Country Range. 82% of CRG customers purchase own brand products, compared to 65% of caterers overall1.
  • The positive results already coming from the Group’s sustainability journey that is supported by ClimatePartner. With members collaborating and sharing best practices, the Group’s latest Sustainability Guide will be published later in the summer.
  • Martin also wished a warm welcome to the two new independent members who joined the Group in the last 6 months.

Head of Marketing Emma Holden provided an update on the Group’s marketing activities, which include extensive support for all Country Range Group own brands, the release of the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) Guide created in collaboration with Dysphagia Specialist Andy Cullum, brand induction programs, and the creation of product videos and enhanced product assets.

Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse (both OBEs) from the Group’s charity partner, The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation also spoke about their work and the success of the partnership with the Country Range Group so far.

The Summer of Love Gala Dinner & Evening Entertainment

With attendees donning their flares, wigs, sideburns and 60s attire for the evening’s entertainment, the Gala Dinner offered another opportunity for networking and relationship building, plus a relaxed and fun finale to a long but successful day. The Group also conducted a charity raffle throughout the evening with attendees raising over £6,500 for The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation.

Martin Ward, Country Range Group Chief Executive, said; “Due to the acclaim our events receive, each year I worry that they’re going to be difficult to surpass, so credit has to go to our team, our incredible members and of course the amazing suppliers for once again helping us raise the bar to new levels. The products, demonstrations and samples on offer were simply extraordinary and with over £2.5 million in orders placed on the day, it was certainly a valuable day for all and a great way to kick off the summer.”

Stephen Hurley, Senior Business Manager at Britvic said; “Having attended many CRG exhibitions previously I can honestly say that the 2024 event was the most aesthetically pleasing to date! The hall was vibrant, decked out in colour and the engagement from the CRG members was fantastic. It goes without saying that the event was well organised, topped off with a classic CRG dinner and celebrations. Well done to all involved organising the event…over to you Belfast!”

Sarah Jones, National Account Manager for Lamb Weston, said;“The CRG Annual exhibition is always a fantastic event, and this year was no exception. It’s such a great opportunity to see all the members, their sales teams, marketing, buyers and all departments in one day. Everyone is in high spirits and keen to see/try/taste new products and the workshops we run are a fantastic way to both educate and build relationships with the members. Thanks again to everyone at CRG for organising another brilliant event.”

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CRG’s 2024 Annual Exhibition and Conference Kicks Off Summer In Style