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Meeting the Manufacturers

By Jo /

Testing a veg pot

Ben sampling an Innocent Veg Pot

Today Ben and I ventured into London to attend the Vegetarian Society’s Meet the Manufacturer event, held at the Window Conference centre in Islington. We weren’t sure what to expect, since we’ve attended a few vegetarian events in the past (some of which weren’t very interesting) but I’m happy to say that we were very impressed. The event was popular, well-organised and introduced us to a range of different vegetarian-relevant companies and products.

There were lots of talks/discussions/focus groups to choose from, and these were taking place in a number of different rooms at the same time. There were also cookery demonstrations and business stands offering information, food samples and products for sale.

Redwood’s had some interesting new products available for tasting: vegan tuna, a burger made with vegan cheese and vegan bacon, vegan duck and some mushroom pâté. I thought the burger tasted okay, and Ben didn’t think the ‘duck’ was too bad. We both liked the mushroom pâté. We also tried some Munchy seeds. Ben bought a big tub of chocolate seeds for sprinkling onto porridge.

We attended talks by Innocent (about their Veg pots), Goody Good Stuff sweets, and Goodlife Foods. Each were interesting and informative in their own way - and we got to try their products and take away some freebies, which was great. Here’s some of the things we found out about:

Innocent Veg Pot

Masala Innocent Veg Pot

There are now eight varieties of Innocent Veg Pot. All of these are vegetarian and six are vegan. This hasn’t always been the case, since one of their pots use to contain fish sauce. Apparently the company received lots of complaints about this from vegetarians who had accidentally bought the product (I think there was also an issue with how the product was labelled). Anyhow, they’ve now conceeded that the fish sauce was a big mistake, and it has since been removed and replaced by soy sauce. We were told that Innocent love feedback - so it’s definitely worth contacting them if you have a problem with any of their products. All the Innocent Veg Pots are approved by the vegetarian society - and each one contains at least 3 portions of your 5-a-day. At the Meet the Manufacturer event we sampled Portugese red pepper piri piri, Thai coconut curry, Indian vegetable masala and Roasted aubergine moussaka. Ben liked the Indian vegetable masala the best, whilst I prefered the Roasted aubergine moussaka. We noticed the vegetables in each of the pots were only lightly cooked (and still firm) and the rice was al dente. Although the pots looked quite small, other people at the talk assurred us that the meals were filling, and made a satisfying meal. Innocent are currently in the process of devising some new flavours - so keep an eye on their range. For attending the talk/tasting group were given some vouchers for some free Veg Pots, and also some free smoothies! 🙂

Goody Good stuff sweets

Goody Good Stuff Sweets

Last year, we discovered Goody Good Stuff sweets at the Viva Veggie Roadshow in Brighton, and we subsequently held a competition here to win some of these sweets. We were pleased to see Goody Good Stuff again at this Meet the Manufacturer event, and here we got the opportunity to learn more about their company. Goody Good Stuff make vegetarian and vegan jelly-type gummy sweets. All their sweets are vegetarian, and many of them are vegan. They have a wide range of different shapes and flavours and some products in the range are available in Holland and Barrett. The major news at this event was that the company are in the process of developing a vegan marshmallow! This marshmallow will not require chilled storage (as some of the current varieties) and will be suitable for toasting. They are also hoping to produce a mini version for sprinkling onto deserts and hot drinks. We will keep an eye out for future announcements about this, and will let you know if/when we hear anything!

Goodlife Foods

Tomato and Mozzarella dippers

Goodlife Foods produce a range of frozen vegetarian foods that are currently stocked by Waitrose, Sainsburys and ASDA. At the Meet the Manufacturer event we got to try a new product in their range - Mozzarella and Tomato dippers. These will be available to buy from Sainsburys in March. I thought they tasted great, and even Ben, who isn’t keen on tomatoes, liked them. They are triangle-shaped and coated in breadcrumbs, with a filling that tastes just like a pizza topping! The Goodlife Foods talk was more of a feedback session than a presentation. It was interesting hearing what kinds of products people like, although some members of the audience were a little eccentric, with views that perhaps weren’t typical of vegetarians as a whole! One lady said that she thought all living things were spiritual, and that biting into an apple was probably just as bad as biting into a steak! But amongst the questions and answers we did pick up a few interesting facts about the Goodlife Foods company. We learnt that they are an independent company, with a consideration for ethical concerns. They make donations (1p per pack) to the World Land Trust to support forest habitats and one of their products is fairtrade, which is something they’re considering extending to other products. We took away some free products from the meeting: Chicken-style BBQ Bakes with a mini nacho crumb and Mediterranean Savoury Cheesecakes with Monterey Jack Cheese and Cream Cheese. These products aren’t listed on their website, so I’m not sure if they’re new or discontinued, but I’m looking forward to trying them.