Held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre since 2004, the Metcash Food and Grocery Expo remains one of the most challenging for the venue.

The annual Metcash Food and Grocery Expo, attended by 6000 independent store owners, is the biggest event for the centre in terms of size and logistics. The expo transforms approximately 10,000 square metres of ground floor exhibition space into a supermarket setup showcasing thousands of current and new wholesale consumer goods to independent retailers from 1400 stores Australia-wide.
The expo attracts about 3000 independent retailers who can explore the stands of roughly 300 exhibitors (including Nestle, Cadbury, Simplot, Goodman Fielder and Schweppes). Metcash Limited is Australia’s leading wholesale distribution and marketing company specialising in grocery, fresh produce, liquor, hardware and automotive parts and accessories. Metcash is the supplier to IGA stores (including Supa IGA and IGA X Press), Lucky 7 (convenience stores), Cellarbrations, IGA Liquor, Bottle-O, Thirsty Camel, Mitre 10 and the Auto Brands Group). Each year the expo is not only designed to showcase the latest consumer goods, but to also show independent store owners the scope of merchandise available for their shops from Australia-wide suppliers at discounted and special rates, and knowledge of how to take their business to the next level by not only meeting but also anticipating consumer demands.
This is also communicated at a conference held in conjunction with the expo. Each morning the IGA National Conference welcomes more than 1000 retailers, staff and delegates in breakfast and plenary sessions which lead into the opening of the expo each day. Monday evening is the night of nights where the ‘Retailer of the Year’ awards are presented, completing the three day event with a gala night for all retailers, suppliers, staff and delegates to let their hair down. Running for three days on the Gold Coast, the Metcash Food and Grocery Expo encompasses everything required to build a supermarket from scratch, so an intricate setup is not surprising.
The exhibition showcases 300 exhibition booths (out of those 74 are custom built to varying sizes and dimensions), approximately 332 exhibitors, and attracts roughly 2600 suppliers. Exponet provides the shell scheme and builds some of the custom booths while others are built by externally contracted companies.
There are approximately 200 contractors on-site for the setup plus electricians to connect refrigerated stands and GCCEC on-site support staff. The expo itself is a five-day build and a two-day pull-down, although planning takes place well in advance and continues all year round.
The setup of the exhibition booths is a complex task because of the volume of stock required to fill the exhibition space – approximately 130 trucks of equipment and stock, equating to four trucks offloading stock every 15 minutes for four days. Stock comes from all around Australia and includes exclusive goods not readily available to Queensland.
The build is also complex because of ‘fast tracking’ the setup to meet time constraints. For example suppliers are restricted to a time limit of 36 hours to setup fridges and cool to correct temperatures which roughly equates to a two week process in a functional supermarket.
Another complexity of the Metcash Food and Grocery Expo to add to the mix are the stringent risks and regulations that go hand in hand with a food exhibition. The risk assessment for this event is bigger and more complex than any other and all factors must be taken into consideration. Under state and local legislation an authorised environmental health officer must also inspect the exhibition ensuring it complies with hygiene standards and regulations to protect the safety and interests of the public.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of the various activities on-site, GCCEC’s kitchen also catered a full sit down buffet-style lunch for 1500 retailers, delegates and exhibitors combined on Sunday and Monday in its upstairs foyers that included a selection of hot and cold dishes, salads and desserts.
National retail marketing manager, Michael Dempsey, said the expo is very important to Metcash and the independent retailers. “It allows us to foster a close working relationship between the retailers, Metcash and the suppliers,” he said.
“It lets the retailers work with suppliers to get the best deals they can for their stores, while purchasing the goods they know their local customers want to buy.”
The expo is a closed show restricted to retailers under the Metcash banner of stores.