MANCHESTER – 27th October 2022: Last Thursday (20th October), over 250 leading representatives of the global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) community came together to celebrate the seventh edition of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards (GICA) at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, as the event further established its reputation as a key meeting point for the industry.

Held for the first time as a hybrid event, with delegates joining both in person and virtually from across the globe, GICA 2022 attracted a broad audience, including major players such as Unilever, Nestlé, Kellogg Company and Emirates Group, alongside dynamic start-ups and scale-ups, industry experts, SMEs, retailers, hotels, airlines, investors and other specially-invited guests.

Attendees from as far afield as Spain, Portugal, Sweden, India, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Canada and the USA ensured the latest edition of this unique gathering of the FMCG community hosted in Manchester was, as ever, a truly global affair.

Commenting on the event, Gama Founder and CEO Cesar Pereira said: “We were delighted to be able to welcome such a broad range of industry thought leaders and international guests to this exclusive gathering for the FMCG community, and in particular to be able to reconnect in person after two challenging years. This unique gathering continues to demonstrate its value as a source of fresh inspiration, invaluable connections, and the latest insights on hot-button trends”.

The 2022 edition also saw the return of the Meet The Buyer and Meet The Investor initiatives, offering attendees even more ways to connect and interact, as GICA once against fulfilled a vital role as an incubator and accelerator for the industry.


The Gama Innovation Conference began with a series of diverse and thought-provoking presentations, as a range of industry thought leaders shared insights on emerging trends, critical factors in successful product innovation, and the opportunities and threats set to shape the future of the sector. While concerns over inflationary pressures and supply chain bottlenecks were widely aired, there was also a resolute focus on the tangible opportunities that remain for FMCG brands, especially those that can not only deliver on taste but also communicate a compelling brand narrative and meet demands for sustainability and functionality.

  • Kicking off the event, Siera Torontow, Managing Director at Penta talked about reputation and its impact on business performance, highlighting the Ukraine conflict, sustainability, and employee satisfaction as key reputational considerations in 2022.
  • Following Siera, Shahid N. Khan, CEO at Al Islami Foods, gave a rundown of key food and drink trends in the Middle East, including new pandemic-influenced behaviours such as scratch cooking, e-commerce and a focus on health and clean eating.
  • Next, Anita Rae, Founder & CEO of Crave Drinks spoke about the sizeable market opportunity in premium soft drinks, but underlined the importance of delivering on consumers’ taste and experience expectations.
  • The fourth presentation was delivered by Fredrik Carling, CEO of Veg of Lund, who gave an overview of trends in dairy alternatives, highlighting how the sector is looking to overcome barriers to mass consumer take-up, such as taste and price point.
  • Following Fredrik, Tom Warden, Editorial Director at Gama walked through five overarching trends in FMCG innovation, including rapid developments in sustainability, evolutions in meat and dairy alternatives, the rise of seeds and grains as headline ingredients, and the emergence of bold and intense flavour experiences.
  • Rounding off the conference, Natasha Vandenhurk, Founder & CEO at Three Farmers gave an insight into snacking trends in North America, describing how flavour could be used to target different demographics and the importance of a strong brand to demonstrate value.


The second half of the event was given over to celebrating key breakthroughs in the consumer goods space, with the unveiling of the winners in each category of the Gama Innovation Awards.

Recognising outstanding innovation in the FMCG space, the Gama Innovation Awards – presented in the categories of Product, Packaging, Positioning, Branding & Design, SME, Best of Britain, Health & Wellness, Best of Middle East, Hospitality and Travel – represented the very best innovations unearthed in the last year by Gama’s global network of in-country researchers and analysts. Travel and Hospitality were new awards for 2022 that showcased the very best innovations with applications in the leisure sector.

As ever, award winners were decided by an international panel of prestigious judges from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Beam Suntory, Kraft Heinz, Coty and PepsiCo.

Silvia Ruiz, Innovation Director at Gama, said: “The Gama Innovation Awards once again shone a light on all the best and brightest in product development from the FMCG world. I would like to congratulate all of our finalists who have sought to drive change and progress across the consumer goods industry in the past year”.

The overall winners in each category were as follows:

  • Product: ElPozo Flexiterraneo 50:50 Meat & Veggie Burgers (Spain). This launch was recognised for its novel targeting of flexitarian consumers. Award presented by Laura García Alfaya, Consul General of Spain (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Rafael Fuertes Quintanilla of ElPozo said: “Our goal is to feed the world in a responsible and sustainable way. This award gives us the strength to continue innovating and improving to make our customers’ lives better and healthier”.

  • Packaging: Nescafe Protect Proslim Instant Coffee (Thailand). Nestle won over judges with foil-free packaging that improves coffee sachet recyclability. Award presented by John Winnard MBE, William Santus (watch here).
  • Positioning: Dug Potato-Based Dairy Alternative (UK). This dairy alternative was named Positioning winner for setting new standards in sustainability. Award presented by Søren Tattam, Honorary Consul of Sweden (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Graham Stonadge of Veg of Lund said: “It’s a tough world out there, and innovation is key to taking brands forward and taking the market forward. This is great recognition for all the team”.

  • Branding & Design: Buzzed Energy Tonic Water (UK). Buzzed caught the attention of the judges with its novel branding and honey-based formula. Award presented by The Lord Mayor, City of Manchester (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Louise Lloyd of Buzzed Drinks said: “As a fledgling brand it’s an honour to get this – very proud”.

  • SME: Paladin Mayonnaise Of The Sea (Portugal). This novel launch won the SME award for its seaweed-inspired flavour blend. Award presented by Duarte Bué Alves, Consul General of Portugal (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Renato Sousa Antunes of Casa Mendes Gonçalves said: “For us, an award like this is very important, not only because it motivates us and our teams to do more and better, but also because it tells us we are making something positive. It is the result of our company’s great focus, throughout the 40 years of our history, on innovation and sustainability”.

  • Health & Wellness: Be Plus Fruta Fresca Baby Food (Spain). This range impressed the panel for its use of innovative preservation technology to maintain freshness. Award presented by Nir Ilani, Prodalim (watch here).

Commenting on the award, José Vicente Castell of Vicky Foods said: “I’d like to thank the international jury who chose our innovative Be Plus Fresh Fruit as the category winner. As a brand, Be Plus focuses on the development of healthy, innovative and responsible products which are in line with purchasing trends, both European and global”.

  • Best of Britain: Brave Cookies & Cream Roasted Chickpeas (UK). This launch was crowned Best of Britain winner for giving pulse-based snacks an indulgent expression. Award sponsored and presented by Gavin Page, Manchester Printers Group (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Amber Fraser of Brave Foods said: “Thank you so much for this award. Our mission with Brave is to make chickpeas exciting for everyone. Certainly in this climate innovation is very important to take things forward”.

  • Best of Middle East: Freakin’ Healthy Plant-Based Cheese Spread (UAE). A distinctive cashew nut formula saw this cheese spread named best Middle East innovation of the year. Award presented by Tom Warden, Gama (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Roy Koyess of Freakin’ Healthy said: “It’s really an honour to accept this very prestigious Gama Innovation Award. Our mission has really always been for Freakin’ Healthy to bring delicious and healthy food”.

  • Hospitality: Hope And Sesame Barista Blend Sesame Milk (US). This sesame-based dairy alternative was named the inaugural winner of the Hospitality award.  Award presented by Mithun Appaiah, Innovative Foods – Sumeru (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Julia Stamberger of the Planting Hope Company said: “We appreciate the award and the recognition, and we are thrilled. This is a milestone on a major journey that we embarked on about six years ago. We set out to create a dairy alternative that was truly nutritious and truly sustainable, harnessing the power of the sesame seed”.

  • Travel: Three Farmers Roasted Fava Beans (Canada). Three Farmers won over judges with its distinctive take on savoury snacking. Award presented by Sergio Costa, Gama (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Natasha Vandenhurk of Three Farmers Foods said: “Thank you so much for this amazing award. We started this brand because of our love for agriculture, and good food and connecting people. And through all of that the innovative nature of our brand has shone through and sustained us”.

  • 2022 also saw the Compass award presented to Shahid N. Khan, Chief Executive (UAE), recognising his role in driving progress and innovation in consumer goods in the Middle East and around the world, in particular turning local family businesses into international power brands. Award presented by Cesar Pereira, Gama (watch here).

Accepting the award, Shahid N. Khan commented: “I’m really honoured that Gama chose me for this really prestigious award. I’m very thankful to all my mentors, my colleagues, and my teams, and the opportunity to lead my teams and companies to a different level”.

The awards ceremony was closed by The Lord Mayor of the City of Manchester, who explored Manchester’s reputation as a city built on innovation.

“We look forward to welcoming the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards back to Manchester in 2023, (…) enabling the city to be a global hub for innovation and international trade in consumer goods for years to come”, The Lord Mayor concluded.

Innovation Zone


The Gama Innovation Conference & Awards will return to Manchester on Thursday, 19th October 2023.

To find out more about the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards, please contact Silvia Ruiz at

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