Speaker Biogs

    Conference Sponsors

Sian Holt – Fudge Kitchen



Des Kingsley – Thanet Earth

An MBA qualified Managing Director with extensive experience in food production and management across many food categories including salads, desserts and ready meals. Des also has experience working with food trade bodies including acting as Chairman of the UK’s Chilled Food Association. Currently, Des is the Managing Director of Thanet Earth Ltd; the largest most technically advanced glasshouse growing facility in the UK.


Sue Nelson – Breakthrough Group

I am very proud to live and work in Kent and I defy anyone to deny that we are best food and drink county in the UK! We have fabulous local producers, pioneering farms, burgeoning vineyards and emerging foodtech innovation. But we have some serious national issues we need to confront such as the sharp rise in diabetes and obesity, how to deliver sustainable and secure food systems and how to replace plastic with degradable cheap alternatives that will be fit for purpose. I can’t wait for the Food and Drink Conference in 2019. Building on the success of last year I am looking forward to some great debates, learning some new skills and networking with respected experts.

Al Shariat – Coconut Merchant Ltd

Ali believes that business should be a force for good, and wants the fruit of his life’s work to be in economic development. To achieve this, he runs Coconut Merchant – a fun and exciting start-up that wants to revolutionise natural foods. They do this by providing coconut products that are of premium quality, competitively priced and ethically sourced. Since starting four years ago, they now have listings in supermarkets (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons), pharmacies (Lloyds), department stores (Selfridges, Fenwicks) and health stores (Holland & Barrett). He is now looking to grow the business further internationally.

Key to his success has been the unique approach to using the internet, particularly Amazon, as a means to connect with customers, build a brand following and leverage this to get further sales in traditional distribution channels. He has also leveraged Amazon to be a good revenue stream for Coconut Merchant, where they do over £1million/year on the platform in Europe alone.