SOME of the biggest fish in Hampshire’s food and drink industry turned out in force to provide a taste of what the county has to offer.

Scores of producers set up stalls at the Business Solent Suppliers Showcase, with everything from sausages and vegetables to cheese, wine and cupcakes on offer for wholesale buyers.

The event at the Grand Harbour Hotel in West Quay Road, Southampton, saw 40 firms exhibiting their produce and meeting potential new clients.

Among the big name customers that flocked to yesterday’s extravaganza were cruise giants Carnival UK and Saga Shipping and Southampton City Council.

Organisers said that the Daily Echo-backed event, which is in its fifth consecutive year, continues to be as popular as ever with exhibitors and buyers.

John Davey, director of Fareham-based Cavendish Ships Stores, chief sponsors of the show, said: “The primary objective is to get local p ro d u c e r s involved in what is a massive industry, the cruise industry, in Southampton.

But what it’s done is escalate to not just c r u i s e ships, but hoteliers, r e s t a u - r a n t s , etcetera.

“We are oversubscribed this year and we are getting more and more buyers from across the spectrum every year, so it’s all positive.”

Suzannah Anderson, who runs Wow Cupcakes from her home in Lordswood, Southampton, was attending for the first time.

She said: “I’ve been in business for three years now and I’m now hoping to show off my produce to corporate clients.

“So far the response has been fantastic.

“My business is all about word of mouth and this is a great place to let people try my cakes and tell other businesses about them.”

Steve Griffiths, from Bellows Direct Food Services, said: “This is a great chance for us to build contacts with hotels, chefs and generally get our name out there.”

Mary Corbett, from bespoke tableware producers Club Matters, which counts Aston Villa Football Club among its clients, added: “At this sort of event we are particularly looking to reach out to restaurants and hotels in the area, but you can never speak to enough people.

“It’s all about meeting people and talking to them face to face about your product and this is a great place to do that.”

Mike Wright, chairman of Hampshire Fare, which supports the event, said: “Today has been a fantastic way for producers and buyers to come together to plan ways in which they can work together in the future.”