It was a gloomy London morning, as crowds started building for the second day of the UK's leading trade show for food-to-go. Whereas some may have been tired from what had been a fantastic day previous, the Mr Lee's team arrived fresh and ready to take on what was scheduled to be an exciting day ahead. Trade shows have this strange sense of familiarity. There's always a need to impress, as is the nature of an exhibition, but at trade shows there's also an underlying friendliness between brands, and an excitement to discover what each other have been up to over the past year. Striking up a conversation is easy, with a deep understanding of what each other have been through over the past year, and a real care for their success - all of which, however, goes straight down the drain when it comes to the Lunch! Innovation Challenge...
The award stands for excellence through innovation in the food-to-go industry, and is a highly coveted accolade to gain for brands. The stakes were high after placing in last year's challenge, and we were back to do the same. A lot had changed over the course of the past 12 months - new flavours, new branding, and new ways to purchase gourmet, premium noodles. We had a lot to talk about, a lot to prove our worthiness of the title. The first phase meant that we had been selected by top industry buyers as one of 70 products to enter the awards, with our tasty noodles on show in the Lunch! Innovation gallery. Phase two saw the delegates and buyers of the show having to vote for their favourite products - something completely out of our hands. All we could do was to preach the word of our noodles, and hope that the many people we spoke to would connect with our product and message and vote for us. They did - we were into the finals, phase three.
Now it was over to the Mr Lee's team. The last hurdle was a product pitch and Q&A in front of a panel of industry judges, and after what was an incredible morning exhibiting at the show, the time came. With a lot to say, and not a lot of time to say it in, our very own Mike Connolly took to the stage.
"Last year's Silver award was our first, and has allowed a startup like Mr Lee's to stand in front of buyers for 3 global brands and make the connections we would never have otherwise made. This year, in the Lunch's! 10th anniversary, we had to impress 10 judges who awarded us with another Silver for our strong vegan credentials, premium freeze-dried ingredients and new channels to market. At Mr Lee's we will continue with our ambition to be the most versatile noodle on the market and finding innovative solutions to our customer's challenges" - Mike Connolly, General Manager of Mr Lee's Pure Foods Co
We had come to the show with the aim of holding our title, and that we did. Later that day it was announced that Mr Lee's new range of healthier noodles had won the silver award in the Lunch! 2017 Innovation Awards. Though perhaps not the gold we were all secretly hoping for, one of the panel came by our stand after the announcement to talk us through the judge's decision.
Due to the nature of the competition, products were marked basedupon innovation over the past year, and though our noodles are the most innovative in the market, the fact our previous range had done so well the year before had meant that we shouldn't have necessarily got anywhere in this year's awards. However, the reason we were told we were given silver, the reason we were given this highly-sought-after award, was due to just how much we had improved what was already an award-winning noodle. The enhancements and innovation of flavour, whilst remaining true to our values and mission to produce one of the healthiest, tastiest instant noodles, in addition to our innovation in branding, won us our silver, and lead us to holding onto the title we had gained the year before.
To find out more about Lunch! and their Innovation Challenge, you can visit their website at: www.lunchshow.co.uk/innovation-challenge/