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Foodpreneurs Festival announces inaugural program

This May, the first-ever Foodpreneurs Festival will support and showcase founders of the most innovative food and drink products like alcohol-free ‘booze’ that helps balance brain fog; probiotic-powered sodas, krauts and tonics that bring about positive gut change; and calming butter for stressed and anxious dogs.

Foodpreneurs Festival founder Chelsea Ford. Photography by Cynthia Sciberras.

On a mission to help SMEs scale and stimulate interest in the speciality food sector as part of a thriving small business economy; the festival, taking place at the Sydney Startup Hub and curated by Chelsea Ford, will host expert talks and panel discussions, facilitate networking and collaboration opportunities and offer foodpreneurs a year’s worth of sales opportunities in one day.

Through a speed pitching component, ‘Pitch Hub’, brand owners will be able to to take their shot at landing on the shelves of more than 78 stockists who will be represented at the festival by some of Australia’s biggest retailers such as David Jones and IGA Supermarkets.

On the main stage will be 20 of Australia’s most accomplished speakers including growth and innovation experts and founders from industry significant brands, including GymBod, Pure Pops and Coco & Lucas.  Meanwhile, the ‘Express Lane’ will see a curated line-up of luminaries provide bespoke advice and guidance on each foodpreneur’s product, plan and potential.

The speaker program will offer insights on:

  • Winning buyers over in a competitive market
  • How to survive working with ‘the majors’ where margins are ruthless
  • Why foodpreneurs don’t make money and what to do about it
  • What the future of retailing looks like for food and drink brands.

The festival will also enable up to 150 of Australia’s most creative and business savvy small batch food and drink producers unveil their reimagined, innovative, and sometimes curious, food and drink products to the world via ‘Stickybeak Station’ – a showcase for brand owners to display their products or have a ‘stickybeak’ at what others are doing.

Foodpreneurs Festival founder Chelsea Ford says Foodpreneurs Festival would be a smorgasbord of the hottest specialty products, and industry insights, from across Australia.

“Australia has been on the world-stage for decades with award-winning wines and beers, but we are so much more than that. We now attract eyeballs from around the world with our innovations across a range of food and drink categories. Foodpreneurs Festival aims to help these brands connect and collaborate so they can scale quicker, and put what they are doing firmly on the radar of the people who count, from buyers, to industry experts and stakeholders,” Ms Ford said.

There are over 8000 small batch makers in Australia who contribute to feeding the population every day, and Ms Ford says when they are supported properly, true innovation is encouraged – not just ‘flavour rotations’ provided by the big food brands.

“Small batch producers are at the forefront of new wave trends. By putting a spotlight on their challenger brand ingenuity and stimulating interest in the sector, we will make significant inroads in right-sizing the influx of imported and private-label products currently flooding the market,” she said.

“Australia is known to have the ultimate source of fresh produce and clean ingredients. If we don’t look after our producers we put this global reputation and small batch economy at risk.”

David Jones Food & Hospitality Development & Concessions Manager Meredith Nightingale says, “Consumers are discerning today, they want ‘better for you’ food for themselves, their families and even their pets, and that’s what will be on show at Foodpreneurs Festival.

“It has been our mission since we opened our doors in 1838 to sell the best and most exclusive goods to the Australian public, and this Festival gives us the opportunity to find exactly that in the food and drink sector. We’re really looking forward to being part of the event and finding new products to bring to our customers.”

Artisans and small-batch food and drink brand owners are invited to attend the Foodpreneurs Festival, not only will their products be on show, they’ll also be able to rub shoulders with brands that have come from modest beginnings to become today’s powerhouses such as Random Harvest Gourmet, Care Food Co, Bondi Yoghurt and Lotus & Ming.

Foodpreneurs Festival

Date: Friday, 19 May 2023

Address: Sydney StartUp Hub, 11 York Street, Sydney 2000

Time: 9.30am – 5.30pm

Price: $149 per person.

For more information, visit

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