CLIVE Beddall, international food industry consultant and former editor-in-chief of The Grocer, the world’s largest food sector newspaper shares his thoughts on Hereford's blossoming food festival.

The United Kingdom’s increasingly diverse local food and drink sector was never more effectively displayed than at the allpay Flavours of Herefordshire Festival.

Yet, to an international food industry journalist like me, it was the spectacular presence of two commodities of the less tangible kind that ensured the success of the event.

I refer, of course, to pride and passion, something that, within my experience, is far too often missing from regional food festivals around these islands.

Recent years have been littered with examples of regional shows across Britain that were characterised by unimaginative exhibits and apathetic exhibitors. Result? Dismal attendance figures and missed opportunities.

And that is a pity, given that official industry research shows that more and more shoppers are nowadays seeking high quality, local food. And, significantly, despite difficult economic times, many of them say that they are prepared to pay more for it.

I have spent over four decades writing about local food, not just in the UK but on the wider international scene in places as far apart as Buenos Aires and Thailand, but I cannot recall a single foodie event has inspired me as much as last weekend’s festival.

Not for Herefordians a jumble of badly presented stalls offering a sad smattering of products and manned by a group of disinterested, badly briefed, bored sales folk.

Whether it was the local producers, farmers’ market stallholders, the artisan crafts folk, the entertainers or the regiments of eager customers, Hereford showed a passion for and a pride in local products that was infectious.

And, by the way, I would also applaud the many helpful Hereford shopkeepers who entered into the spirit of the occasion in such an encouraging fashion.

The town centre setting was spectacular and it was a tribute to Sir Ben Gill, chair of Visit Herefordshire and his organising team, that the event attracted so many visitors. Their stated objective of blending tourism and local food was obvious to all and I predict that it is something that festival organisers in other parts of the UK will try to copy.

Yet, maintaining and developing a formula that remains attractive to the discerning shopping public, not to mention a fast evolving trading scene, can be difficult, as the festival disasters to which I referred earlier have illustrated.

I have no such fears for the allpay Flavours of Herefordshire spectacular. Last weekend’s event proved that its exhibitors and organisers have the innovative talents for success when it comes to modern promotional methods.

Thus I expect shoppers to flock to the event for many years to come. I will certainly be coming back.