THE Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival hosted its annual trade day on Brighton Palace Pier.

Chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and bar owners enjoyed an afternoon of tastings and informal networking at the recently refurbished Horatio’s bar.

Exhibitors included Sussex wine producers – Stopham, Bolney, Wiston, Plumpton and Ridgeview – alongside a host of other local producers each sampling their product to existing and potential trade customers.

Mardi Roberts, of Ridgeview Wine Estate in Ditchling, said: “The festival’s trade day on our beautiful pier is always a great opportunity to catch up with some of our amazing customers, clients and friends, give us the chance to exchange ideas and plans.

“Days like this cement how fantastic all the local food and drink scene is and also the great support we have for each other.”

Seb Cole, of Brighton’s Boho Gelato, said: “The trade day is great for us as a business as it allows us to sample our products for tasting by local business owners and chefs in a friendly and relaxed environment.

“Its all about the quality of our product and once they taste they will often end up choosing us as a supplier based on that quality rather than us having to waste each other’s time with sales talk.”

Inger Smith and Ian Curtis are new to the Brighton food and drink scene, having just set up a new distillery in Hove. The trade day was the first time they had showcased their range of small batch gins to the local hospitality industry.

Inger said: “The day was a wonderful opportunity for Madame Jennifer Distillery to show off our new products. We were able to connect with other local businesses and contribute to the exciting food and drink scene in Brighton and Hove.”

Molly Raftery, of The Bull in Ditchling village, said: “We had a really fun afternoon. It was a great chance to meet new faces in the industry and discover some fantastic new local producers… and of course catch some rays on the pier.”

The annual trade day is just one of the many activities that the Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival runs across the year.

Festival managing director Nick Mosley said: “Alongside our well-known and much enjoyed consumer event periods such as Brighton Wine Week, Cocktail Week and Autumn Harvest, the festival team also work across the year to support the local hospitality industry.

“We aim to ensure restaurants and bars are aware of the quality produce right here on our doorstep. Local food is produced with passion, helps reduce food miles and is also great for creating a sustainable economy.”