Highlights of Fine Food Australia include focus on robotics and health foods

Fine Food Australia has come to an end after a week packed with food trend insights and robotics making a name in the industry.

After catering to thousands at the Melbourne Convention centre, the four-day event came to a close on the 13th of September.

Fine Food Australia event director Minnie Constan said more than 25,000 people attended the four-day expo.

The exact figures will be released in a few weeks when an audit has been completed, she said.

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“It was incredible. There was a buzz around the show floor that I haven’t seen for many years. It’s certainly showing the passion that is in this industry.”

The expo was about innovation, connection and growth, she said. “There was a lot of new innovation.”

“There were a number of very exciting products that will be heading to the market, including electronics and new food,” said Constan.

Hot topics included the use of mobile apps and robotics in the food industry, as well as meatless protein alternatives, she said.

For the first time ever, there was a Cobot at Fine Food Australia, which is a cooperative robot.

The company that showcased the Cobot was Roto Charge, which sells bakery pumps and related equipment that deposit fillings into pastry products.

Food Industry Foresight director Rod Fowler said Roto Charge had doubled the capacity of its standard equipment by adding a robot to its standard systems.

The new generation smart robots are intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace.

This makes them different to other robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.

The top ten trends of 2018 were discussed at a Fine Food Australia forum, with the help of Food Industry Foresight, which provides research and analysis into food and beverage markets in Australasia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The trends include operators working smarter – to continue striving in an increasingly tough market – and the reinvention of hamburgers.

Hamburgers maintain their top position as the number one flexible food concept and they continue to transform as consumers look for new flavours.

The Food Industry Foresight found the desire for protein substitutes was rising as people considered the environmental impacts of meat.

Casual dining has grown over the past five years in Australia and the cafes are adapting their coffee products to offer cheaper home and work brewing options.

People are also wanting to know the origins of food when it comes to eating at restaurants, robots are entering the food service industry and food apps are gaining traction.

The Food Industry Foresight noted the number of meal options when eating out are growing.

Eateries are also striving to change the look, opening hours and menus of their establishments to create a more unique experience for patrons.

With innovation hot on everyone’s minds, the variety of products at Fine Food Australia were diverse.

New products included Little Beauties’ sundried kiwifruit slices, Oliver Lane’s gluten-free golden turmeric and cardamom bread, Hemp Foods Australia’s salted caramel crunch bar.