The Rise in Free-From and Plant-Based with F2F Events Director Tom Treverton With Free Tickets

For Tom Treverton, the UK Portfolio Director of F2F Events, the thrill of opening a venue door for a show’s first day is a feeling he will always treasure – even after 11 years. Having worked in the events sector for his entire professional career, Tom managed to rack up some incredible accolades and achievements, which has led to him becoming one of the most well-respected professionals in his industry; landing him a place as an active judge for the AEO Excellence Awards and the Quality Food Awards as well as being able to sit of the Association of Event Organiser’s Development Board and its subsequent Event’s Working Group company. But getting here has been a lot of hard work. Juggling family life, including his youngest, who suffers a wide variety of allergies, Treverton’s expertise in being able to educate and inform people on the topics that really matter, such as allergies, dietary preferences and lifestyle choices is commendable, but when paired with his ability to also entertain his audience – that’s where something special really happens – which can be seen reproduced in two of the incredible events he works on – The Allergy Free From Show (AFF) and the Just V Show (JVS) where Niki will be showcasing some delicious seasonal recipes and diving in deep to her new and upcoming books on the 6th November 2021, Birmingham.

Although laborious and time-consuming they’re “a labour of love” according to Treverton who speaks fondly about the opportunity to be able to “develop, run and progress events that mean so much to all participants; that educate, support and entertain in equal measure… it’s been 11 years… and over 65,000 visitors (per year across the events) of very, very hard work – but it’s been an incredibly rewarding process”.

But what exactly are these shows? Well, they’re a combination of exhibitors, speakers and demonstrations that show the biggest and brightest in their respective fields. The Allergy and Free From Show were bought by Treverton’s team, in which he saw great potential from the start. Already a small event, it was excelled at the same rate as in which allergies were rising in the country. The show’s expansion began with the inclusion of credible medical experts who were experienced in both auto-immune diseases and allergens and/or intolerances to common foodstuffs and that were previously lacking, as well as showcasing an upcoming range of incredible food, drink and lifestyle brands that were starting to provide viable and suitable products for these conditions and the people that so desperately needed them.

This trail-blazing event led to the growth and creation of the Just V Show. “JVS was created in the most organic way imaginable” stated Treverton. “In 2012, we observed that our AFF audience were increasingly both medically and lifestyle motivated to attend the shows and that there was a huge crossover in other areas, most notably – the plant-based sector”, as the audience evolved, so did the shows. Treverton and his team noticed that people who were “living with allergies and/or intolerances were attending our events more than any other show in Europe”, but that statistic didn’t show the whole picture. People without the above ailments were also attending and the generic population of attendees were for a multitude of reasons rather than just the three the show was created for. Some of these reasons can be categorised as: general health and wellbeing, animal welfare, environmental, sustainable and ethical principles.

“JVS was designed to be 100% inclusive. It always has been; it always will be… What I [Treverton] means is, we are very aware that people are invested in plant-based lifestyles for a range of reasons; we also know that people want plant-based lifestyles to be available in a range of ways to suit their lifestyle. Some may choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle on a ‘full-time’ basis, some may just wish to choose to reduce their meat-intake on a Monday – regardless of their preference, we welcome them all”. The vision for JVS stays true now as to when it started. To “remain neutral, welcome all motivations and to provide a great day out for absolutely everyone, irrespective of the ‘why’” – but by providing the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ “through the amazing product options and the wonderfully innovative people behind them”.

Understanding that what they put into their shows is directly correlated with what the audience gets out of it, “we never ever forget that our shows effectively compete with visitors’ precious leisure time. If we want people to choose to get out of bed and elect to spend most of their Saturday or Sunday with us, then we have to deliver something they will love”, this “truth” remains at the forefront of their minds so you can ensure that every event will be created with you in mind. “We understand who attends, why they visit, what they want and how they view the event” by balancing this formula Treverton is able to provide a truly memorable day and has secured a very loyal and “amazing fan base.”

“The feedback we receive [after the shows] is crucial, and completely shapes the shows going forward” especially after COVID feedback is more important now than ever, as an ever-changing consumer changes to life after lockdown. “Our visitors… and what they want… is priority number one. We literally take the shows in the direction they tell us to”. But it’s not just the audience that Treverton and his team pay close attention to. It’s their surroundings as well. Keeping a close eye on the key trends, news and through extensive market research allows the hosts to identify a ‘show perfect’ product or person before any contact has even been made. This rigorous process allows the team to ensure that every exhibitor has credibility, relevancy and is of the highest standard. “In terms of product options, quality and availability, the free-from market has come a long way in the UK… but there’s still so much more to come and we take the show’s responsibility to showcase the best new arrivals extremely seriously” this notion can be seen reflected in the vegan market and event too – where innovation and product development is always at the top of Treverton’s list to find and showcase.

It’s free to attend the live shows but don’t worry if you’re unable to attend this time round. The team behind the events have year-round support and entertainment for anyone interested in the plant-based and free-from sector. “We know our shows only open for a small number of days each year; as much as we adore running them and love being onsite with thousands of visitors, brands and experts – we know we have the ability to connect people with each and every one of these 365 days a year – in meaningful ways”. COVID hit the events’ industry pretty hard, but that didn’t stop the determination of Treverton or his dedicated team. “Over the last 18 months, we have significantly enhanced our digital content” which led to the launch of their online clubs. Each club features an e-shop, exclusive articles and newsletters, community-driven social channels and their highly popular Chat Shows, hosted on Facebook (make sure to check out Niki’s episode here) and it doesn’t just stop there. Head of Marketing Ben Corbett has had his ear to the ground and has not only analysed the audience and growth of the clubs but has created a variety of unmissable extensions that will be launching soon.

Being at the forefront of these sectors for so long, Treverton has realised that “product development has shifted from staple basics to free-from and plant-based versions of anything-and-everything” and this is a trend he hopes will continue, alongside the quality and nutritional value of said products. “We still see innovation every single day from exciting brands bringing new options to the market and as the demand for both continues to rise, the manufacturing process will simultaneously get better, which should then eventually lead to lower prices for consumers”. Here’s hoping.

3 TOP TIPS FROM TOM TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SHOW DAY:


1. Book your tickets and come along! Pick your nearest show; we’re in Birmingham (6-7 November 2021), Glasgow (5-6 March 2022) and London (1-3 July 2022). Tickets are free, and can be found here.

2. When onsite, walk through all the aisles, meet all the exhibitors and have a great time. Keep an eye on all our onsite theatre content, from cooking demos (including a special appearance from Rebel Recipes and Shiso Delicious) to expert seminars, so you squeeze in the talks that you want to see!

3. Remember, the events showcase all kinds of free-from and plant-based products that serve a variety of different people with different medical and lifestyle needs and motivations. As such, there’ll be plenty on the show floor that you will love, but there will also be some products that are not right for you. No one knows your needs better than you, so take care to interact with the show and its featured products in a responsible way that befits your personal needs. Have fun, but be safe!

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