Trade body New Zealand Winegrowers has pulled out of the event along with a number of key companies, including Pernod Ricard UK, Percy Fox and PLB.
The fair has been compared unfavourably with Germany’s Prowein event, which took place in Düsseldorf last week.
But Brintex argued that London and the UK trade are “more than worthy of hosting a world-class wine trade event”.
“The UK remains an extremely important trading nation to many of the world's producers, and as a country without any bias towards wine provenance, its unique position will always lend itself to staging an exciting trade event designed to stimulate business and growth,” it said in a statement.
And organisers said the London event was much more accessible for independents, who will be catered for with new features including Off Licence News’s Independents’ Business Lounge.
Exhibition director James Murray said that while some exhibitors have pulled out, others have returned after several years’ absence, such as D&D Wines.
“These are tough economic times, and it's no surprise that a handful of exhibitors have taken a break from the show for 2012. That said, this cycle happens every year, and just like previous editions of LIWF, there will be also be an influx of new exhibitors and producers for 2012, and that's really important to visiting buyers,” he said.
He added that the UK market is seen as a trend-setter, making the LIWF attractive to international buyers.
Marketing director Will Broadfoot added: "There are a handful of major buyers that travel to all the international trade fairs, London included, but to suggest that UK independent retailers, wholesalers, sommeliers and restaurateurs, bar owners and off-licence buyers and staff are flying to Düsseldorf is plain wrong.
“Of course Prowein is bigger, I'm sure they have at least 50,000 wines to our 20,000 on offer, but we have a programme of accompanying seminars, events, press briefings, debates, masterclasses and tastings that are second to none. They play a big part in why so many buyers, from all over the world, still choose to visit LIWF and do business at the fair."
Some of this year’s exhibitors voiced their support for the fair.
Hatch Mansfield managing director Patrick McGrath said: "We are responsible for managing the sales and marketing of all our suppliers in the UK market, which despite all its challenges is still critical to their business.
“The LIWF is therefore a key part of our annual calendar – at no other point in the year do we get such an opportunity to see so many customers in a condensed timeframe to showcase new wines, taste new vintages, make plans for the forthcoming year and for our suppliers to meet the gatekeepers and understand this market at first hand. It is a great way to talk to existing and new customers in all trade channels.”
Wines of South Africa UK market manager Jo Wehring said: "The UK is the leading export market for South African wines and the LIWF provides an excellent platform for showcasing our strengths to an audience of UK and international trade.”
Les Grands Chais de France is returning with a bigger stand, as are Wines of Lebanon and Turkey, while pavilions from emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, the Ukraine and Israel will be there alongside major generics including Argentina, Australia, California, Chile, France, Italy, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.