MANCHESTER – 7th November 2023: Inspiration and connection were once again to the fore as over 300 fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) professionals from all around the world came together on Thursday 19th October for the eighth edition of the Gama Innovation Conference & Awards (GICA) at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

Held once again as a hybrid event, GICA 2023 attracted a broad audience, including major players such as PepsiCo, ElPozo, Bel Group, Kellanova and IFFCO Group, alongside dynamic start-ups and scale-ups, industry experts, SMEs, retailers, hotels, airlines, investors and other specially-invited guests.

Blending inspiring and thought-provoking presentations with a celebration of the very best in product innovation over the last year, GICA provided a unique opportunity for attendees to network and forge new contacts in a vibrant yet informal atmosphere.

Attendees from as far afield as Spain, Portugal, Sweden, India, Australia, Turkey, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, 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 with the success of this year’s GICA, especially with a record number of international delegates joining us for this exclusive get-together. The way GICA is growing and developing year on year is testament to its increasing importance as a hub for inspiration, insight and network-building in the North of England”.

The 2023 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.

Ian Wright CBE, Co-Chair of the Food & Drink Export Council, said: “This is a real success for Manchester […] and it has every chance of becoming the premier food and drink industry event in the North of England. I think it’s a huge tribute to the team in the way they’ve managed to put it together”.


The Gama Innovation Conference once again welcomed a diverse line up of industry thought leaders keen to share their insights on the trends set to define the future of the FMCG sector, as well as the key ingredients for successful brand-building and innovation. While the impacts of cost-of-living pressures and global instability were unavoidable topics, there was also a resolute focus on the opportunities ahead for both brands and retailers, not least in sustainability, the trend for self-care and wellbeing, and the possibilities being opened up by emerging manufacturing technologies.

  • Delivering the first address, Ian Wright CBE, Co-Chair of the Food & Drink Export Council, underscored the value of international trade to the consumer goods industry, the need for brands to be flexible and adaptable, and the increasingly ‘borderless’ approach to food and drink production.
  • Following Ian, Rimi Thapar, Co-Founder and CEO at LoveRaw, gave a rundown of key success factors in building a consumer goods brand, highlighting the need for a strong product, as well as resilience and creating brand loyalty.
  • Next, Daniele Tirelli, Former President of the Retail Institute Italy, spoke about the impact of inflation on food retail, as well as the innovative ways supermarkets across Europe were growing their market share.
  • The fourth presentation was delivered by Fredrik Laurell, CEO of Nicoccino, who gave a potted history of the tobacco and nicotine sector, as well as outlining the ways the industry was innovating to achieve the goal of harm reduction.
  • Following Fredrik, Valeria Krynetskaya, Head of Plant-Based Venture THRYVE at IFFCO Group, gave an insight into trends in plant-based foods in the Middle East, emphasising health and wellbeing as a key driver of the transition towards flexitarian and vegetarian diets in the region.
  • Next up, Tom Warden, Insights Director at Gama, walked through five overarching trends in FMCG innovation, including diverging pathways in the plant-based space, the rise of the food as medicine concept, and a move towards ‘real’ and ‘healthy’ concepts in sugar confectionery.
  • Rounding off the conference, Paula Amaral, Head of Sustainability, Innovation and Strategy at Bel Group, discussed ways brands could reduce their environmental impact, including by transitioning to plant-based ingredients, updating packaging and improving agricultural practices.



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.

Silvia Ruiz, Joana Hranova, Daniele Tirelli, Cesar Pereira, Aymen Belhaj, The Lord Mayor, City of Manchester, The Lord Mayor’s Consort, Karen Zafar, Miguel Gironés and Montserrat Moreno.

As ever, award winners were decided by an international panel of prestigious judges from some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Kraft Heinz, Coty and Essity, as well as Shark Tank Brasil’s Cris Arcangeli.

Silvia Ruiz, Innovation Director at Gama, said: “The Gama Innovation Awards once again shone a light on all of the best and brightest in product development from the FMCG world over the past year, and celebrated the pioneers and forward-thinkers driving innovation in their category”.

The overall winners in each category were as follows:

  • Product: Mantova 450 Air Fryer Spray Oil (USA). This launch was recognised for aligning to consumer demands for more economical cooking methods. Award presented by Duarte Bué Alves, Consul General of Portugal (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Leonardo Mantova of Compagnia Alimentare Italiana said: “Every year we try to improve and develop something innovative in vegetable oil and condiments. Thank you to the judges”.

  • Packaging: ElPozo AllPlato Pasta Meals (Spain). Judges were won over by technology that allows pasta to remain ‘al dente’ when cooked in the microwave. Award presented by Juan Pedro Hernando Espinosa, Chancellor of the Consulate General of Spain (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Miguel Gironés López of ElPozo said: “This award is testament to our team’s pursuit of excellence. Our goal is to improve the food experience of our customers and this packaging exemplifies that objective”.

  • Positioning: Thrive Peak Beer To Reload (Belgium). This alcohol-free beer impressed the panel with its positioning as a “recovery” beverage. Award presented by Paula Amaral, Bel Group(watch here).
  • Branding & Design: Go Mate Yerba Mate Drink (UK). Go Mate caught the attention of the judges with its nootropic blend and focus on “day” and “night” occasions. Award presented by Award presented by Søren Tattam, Honorary Consul of Sweden (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Frank Mertens of Yes Mate Drinks said: “We’re very honoured to be here – thank you very much. Our product helps high performers who are looking to have mental sharpness but do it naturally”.

  • SME: Noox Revive Sparkling Drink (UK). This novel launch won the SME award for its use of nootropics to offer cognitive benefits. Award presented by John Winnard MBE, William Santus  (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Karen Zafar of Pure Global Trade said: “It’s an honour to win this award and I would like to thank all those who voted for us. Nootropics and functional drinks are a growing market  and the response has been overwhelming”.

  • Health & Wellness: Safresh Saffron Herbal Drink (Bulgaria). This launch was recognised for introducing saffron to the drinks category as a functional ingredient. Award presented by Gavin Page, The Blackfish Group (watch here).

    Bryony Gray and The Lord Mayor, City of Manchester.

Commenting on the award, Joana Hranova of Saphyas said: “It’s a great achievement for me and for our team, and also a big motivation as it shows we are doing something positive”.

  • Best of Britain: Cocos Organic Coconut Milk Yoghurt Tubes (UK). Cocos Organic’s innovative dairy-free formula saw this launch crowned Best of Britain. Award presented by The Lord Mayor, City of Manchester (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Bryony Gray of Met Foods said: “As a small, independent family business this award and recognition really does mean a lot to us”.

  • Best of Middle East: Barada Chocolate Dessert Hummus Snack (UAE). This innovative blend of hummus and chocolate saw it named best Middle East innovation of the year. Award presented by Seyfi Onur Sayin, Consul General of Turkey (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Aymen Belhaj of Liviano Foods said: “I’m deeply honoured to accept the Gama Innovation Award for our chocolate hummus. This award is testament to the power of innovation that thrives in our region”.

  • Hospitality: Dulcesol Ketchup Flavour Burger Bun (Spain). Judges were impressed by this concept which offers a mess-free alternative to table sauces. Award presented by Pedro Jesús Eusebio Cuesta, Director Instituto Cervantes (watch here).

Commenting on the award, Gerardo Estruch of Vicky Foods said: “Since its foundation more than 70 years ago, innovation has been a key lever of growth for our company and the path to sustainable development. This award encourages us to maintain this constant innovation”.

Silvia Ruiz, Joana Hranova, Daniele Tirelli, Cesar Pereira, Aymen Belhaj, The Lord Mayor of Manchester, The Lord Mayor’s Consort, Karen Zafar, Miguel Gironés and Montserrat Moreno.

  • Travel: Tic Tac Seeds Hard Mints (Spain). The Travel award went to this power mint innovation featuring a filling of aromatic spices. Award presented by Sergio Costa, Gama (watch here).
  • 2023 also saw the Compass award presented to Daniele Tirelli, recognising his achievements as a passionate educator and connector, as well as his dedication to inspiring future industry leaders. Award presented by Cesar Pereira, Gama (watch here).

Accepting the award, Daniele Tirelli commented: “I’m really surprised because I didn’t expect this award. Certainly a passion for following innovation and teaching my students all about the exciting activity in the food industry is something that has motivated my activities”.

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 2024, (…) enabling the city to be a global hub for innovation and international trade in consumer goods for years to come”, The Lord Mayor concluded.



The Gama Innovation Conference & Awards will return to Manchester on Thursday, 24th October 2024.

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

– ENDS –

About Gama 

Gama is a global provider of business information and services specializing in product innovation and international trade.

Through our worldwide network of over 100 experts in more than 50 countries, we offer high-quality news, research, analysis and partnering services. We deliver actionable insights, enabling you to make more informed decisions and supporting you to unlock new business opportunities.