The London Produce Show is very grand, staged in the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in early June, the exhibition booths are in the great room (essentially a sunken ballroom with grand sweeping staircases and huge chandeliers), there are great panels of industry leaders to share their thoughts, to debate the issues of the day in the main ballroom at breakfast time, there are breakaway sessions where you can listen to the leading global trade bodies talk about who they are working with to improve their national diet, to export produce, how their growers are tackling NPD and throughout the whole thing there is a real buzz of business and above all cooperation.

And there are students – school children who have entered and won competitions to win propagating units and assistance for healthy eating schemes for their schools, talented trainee chefs from Westminster Kingsway college taking on the great and good from the professional cookery world in producing amazing dishes rich in produce and colour and then we come to the graduate group. When the London Produce Show began four years ago the concept of a sponsorship scheme that took your top under and post Grads and gave them three days in a top London hotel meeting with businesses was met with a bit of a blank from many UK colleges who have produce/farming/food related courses. Some still don’t answer when approached with an allocation of places, it’s extraordinary.

What the LPS provides for students is one of the best opportunities I’ve ever seen outside of Nuffield; three days in London, an industry mentor who makes introductions on their behalf to potential employers or research partners, business cards, one of the best collections of produce business leaders to listen to, bespoke seminars with buyers and technologists, great food and above all networking. This year with everyone from Hello Fresh to Marks and Spencer lining up to mentor the student programme, with an audience with Prue Leith to hear about raising food awareness and some direct canvassing for internships the student deal was the best ever. And for businesses interested in good quality interns – well the students this year were either just graduating with a first or were on Masters programmes, for those that were at the event they had a head start in meeting and conducting a first interview for internships. The group had such fantastic sparky minds, you could see in many of them what great futures they had ahead, what a fantastic benefit to a business in our sector.

I think what I’m getting at is that if you have a family member who is studying something applicable to food or farming please take them along to a trade show, there is so much more that can come from it than just a walk round and a graze through the hospitality and if they should be approached by the London Produce Show.

And the frost, well now we have seen the June drop I think that many growers are pleasantly surprised, as an industry we will have some cosmetic quality and size issues however, frost damage is never pretty sadly. Stone fruit on many sites seems to have dodged the damage and I’ve been enjoying some delicious cherries, it will be interesting to see what the showing will be like at the cherry and soft fruit show at Detling during the Kent County Show.