MEETING visitors from overseas and doing business with them has always been a central function of the Royal Show, and this years event is no exception.
One new idea is the Global Partnerships Initiative, which is being run by Trade Partners UK and DEFRA, and supported by regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands.
Its aim is to promote and build on the strengths of the UKs agri-food industry, to address the issues of global food production and to develop business for the UKs leading edge companies.
"Developing more safe and efficient food production is one of the worlds most important challenges," says Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, minister for international trade and investment, who is supporting the initiative.
With the world population set to grow from 6bn to 8bn by 2025, and with most of this occurring in developing countries where food security is already an issue, global agricultural output will have to increase by 50% over the same timeframe.
Baroness Symons believes the UK is well-placed to help meet this challenge and to benefit from the ensuing trade.
"Our food retail sector is one of the most demanding in the world," she says. "Suppliers have had to rise to the challenge of meeting the most stringent environmental, quality, safety and consumer requirements.
"The result is an industry that now has advanced capabilities in equipment, techniques and expertise to offer appropriate solutions through partnerships, joint ventures and technology transfers to the rest of the world."
A good start in this process can be made at the Royal Show, where the Global Partnerships Initiative is showcasing over 50 British companies, chosen for their excellence and innovation.
Operating under the banner "Science into Practice", the exhibition is located opposite the Grand Ring on 6th Street, between Avenue G and Avenue H.
The organisers are also offering a special matchmaking and appointments service, whereby show-goers can arrange in advance to see any of the companies at the Global Partnerships pavilion. Further details are available from project director Philippa David on 0121 380 3665.
But anyone and everyone is welcome to visit the site during the course of their trip to the Royal Show, to see whats on offer.
"This is the first time we have done something like this at the Royal and we believe this show is the ideal platform for presenting UK excellence to a wide international audience," says Mrs David. "The set up is quite relaxed and informal. Visitors are encouraged to come to the area to network and meet UK companies to discuss potential partnerships and business opportunities.
"We did something similar at the Autosport International event earlier this year in the National Exhibition Centre. Then there were about 75 key companies in the motor racing world. Over the two days they met with around 1700 potential clients and not one of the companies went away without conducting some new business."