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The Lunch! tradeshow is on again. This is the Fine Foods kid brother. It’s not as big, not as experienced, but you can see the family resemblance. So how would it go Lunch! versus Fine Foods? Despite the fact that the organisers are claiming that they are for two very different markets, the reality is that it’s a trade show for restaurants and cafes.

So here we go, the Lunch! versus Fine Foods comparison:

Location: Fine Foods is at Darling Harbour while Lunch! is at Moore Park. Darling Harbour is more central so that’s a bonus, especially for people relying on public transport, but the parking fees are more hefty. If driving, avoiding the city is a good thing. Personally I would prefer Homebush because it is more central to all of Sydney, but that’s because I don’t live in the Eastern Suburbs.

Size: Fine Foods takes up all 5 halls at Darling Harbour plus more. Lunch! takes up one hall. That’s like comparing Arnold Schwarzenegger with Danny Devito. Which impacts on…

Variety: Lunch! had one or two representatives of various aspects of running a cafe or restaurant. Fine Foods has sections dedicated to each aspect. So while Lunch! will show you the possibility of doing something, Fine Foods will then show all the options.

Diversity: On top of variety, Fine Foods has more diversity.

Dead space: But with diversity comes dead space. By that, I mean stands that are just totally useless for the visitor. Obviously the definition of “dead space” is very individualistic, but the reality is, there are some stands that are present so that they can meet one, or may be two, key people that will make all the difference. At Fine Foods there are entire sections (especially the overseas contingencies) that are just after that one new distributor. So that means that 99.9% of the people walking past aren’t interested in stopping because it’s not available in Australia. So Fine Foods has a lot of dead space. Lunch! doesn’t. If I owned a cafe or restaurant, every stand had something of interest.

Duration: Lunch is two days, Fine Foods four. So it’s easier to schedule time to go to Fine Foods than Lunch!

Number of visitors: I don’t know the exact numbers, but let’s go with the subjective- Fine Foods is packed, Lunch! is medium and reasonably constant. As an exhibitor, at Fine Foods you end the day exhausted and feel like you haven’t had sufficient time to talk to people. At Lunch! it looks like there is the time to talk. As an attendee, at Fine Foods the queues are often too long to bother waiting to talk to someone, while at Lunch! the most I waited was a couple of minutes. So Lunch! is a better trade show in terms of having that quality of time, while Fine Foods is just a mad dash.

Time required: It took me one and a half hours to get around Lunch! and that was being slow. WIth Fine Foods, it easily takes half a day. So as I mentioned in “variety”, if you want a small sample of ideas, Lunch! is the place to go, but if you want to really explore and do comparisons, it’s Fine Foods.

Samples: OK, I admit it, I love hospitality trade shows. What other industry is a pure culinary delight to wander through. Having said that, today’s experience at Lunch! was lean. The free samples were mostly small and well guarded. There were a couple of exceptions. With Fine Foods I don’t know if it is just the sheer number of exhibitors, or that the guardians are too exhausted to protect the samples, but the samples seem to be more abundant and the exhibitors more generous.

Exhibiting value for money: Fine Foods wins if you are just looking at sheer numbers, but I spoke to one exhibitor who opted out of Fine Foods this year to focus on the smaller food shows. In theory Lunch! caters for a different crowd, but the reality is they are very similar. Attending both would not be totally redundant. Lunch! is a lighter load in terms of duration and number of visitors.

Visitor value for money: It’s free, so let’s change it…

Visitor value for time: Lunch! is a duck in and out show, Fine Foods is a take half a day off show. Lunch! is a select sample while Fine Foods is a lavish spread. Fine Foods wins if time isn’t an issue, Lunch! if it is.

Which would mean that, if Lunch! and Fine Foods were compared to meals, Lunch! would be a light lunch, and Fine Foods more of a banquet.

And we don’t all have banquets at lunch time, and when we dine out we don’t want toasties.


As for us, we will be at Fine Foods this year launching our new wireless temperature logger range. The timing is perfect. Next year we are aiming to be at both.