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Inside the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show

Inside the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

The Specialty Food Association’s 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show kicked into gear this Sunday, with tens-of-thousands of exhibiters and attendees—buy- and supply-side alike—coming together at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, New York, to explore a show floor filled with venerable artisan makers, bold trendsetters, and even doe-eyed trade news writers.

The show features some of the finest offerings in the dairy, deli, and bakery world—from charcuterie to chèvre, soups to sourdoughs—alongside confections, cocktail-mixes, fermented foods, and more.

Ron Tanner, Vice President, Philanthropy, Government & Industry Relations Officer, Specialty Food Association“It’s actually the biggest show we’ve ever had—coming in at about 364,000-square-feet of exhibit space,” noted Ron Tanner, Vice President, Philanthropy, Government & Industry Relations Officer. “There are 2,600 exhibiters showing everything you could imagine. From caviar to jelly beans, to lots of jerky, lots of vegan products, lots of protein. It’s really the place that the buyers come to discover food products that they can bring in. And specialty food is growing, over the last two years, at about 16 percent, whereas all food is growing at about 2.3 percent.”

Retailers, foodservice providers, distributors, and even representatives from airlines came out in droves from throughout the country to try new and unique products and grapple with the latest trends.

“We have buyers from 35 different categories. There are buyers from airlines, cruise ships, delis, obviously, from supermarkets. We’ve been aggressively trying to get buyers,” Ron continued. “And specialty foods are sold everywhere.”

The Association’s 63rd annual event featured staples like its “What New” and “What’s Hot” showcases. New products featured a variety of coconut-based snacks including Sun Tropics’ Coconut Rice Pudding and Chosen Foods’ Coconut Oil Mayo. Refrigerated Organic Protein Bars from Wella Bar made their show floor debut, as did a variety of artisan olive oils, juices, condiments, and preserves.

The event also featured a new style of presentation for sofi™ Award winners and a new sofi Award for Product of the Year.

Mary Keehn, Founder, Cypress Grove“It’s a wonderful thing for producers, because you get to showcase your product to people who really understand what the market’s looking for,” said Cypress Grove Founder Mary Keehn as the company’s signature Midnight Moon cheese took home its second sofi.

The sofi Awards Meet ‘n Greet allowed attendees to talk to specialty food veterans with consumer-adored products and up-and-coming producers alike.

Meg Barnhart, Co-Founder, The Zen of Slow Cooking (Photo: Women's Health)“Winning the sofi was really exciting, and there’s nothing like our product,” said Meg Barnhart, Co-Founder of The Zen of Slow Cooking, who won Best New Product in the Seasonings, Spice category for the company’s Sichuan Blend Slow Cooker Spice Blend. “It’s a really cool product innovation and the first of its kind on the market.”

One trend that was heartening to see was company’s contributing to charitable causes; the Zen of Slow Cooking, FOODMatch partner BobbySue’s Nuts, and other award winners and attendees noted their commitment to their community and to well-being.

Brett Greenberg, Corporate Chef, FOODMatch (Photo: nutsaboutgranola.com)“We saw what [BobbySue’s Nuts] were doing with their mission to support animal welfare, and we were looking for someone to help us pioneer a Mediterranean trail mix combining olives and nuts,” FOODMatch Corporate Chef Brett Greenberg said, describing the genesis of the companies’ partnership and the gratitude and humility with which they received the Gold and Silver sofi in the Savory Snack category. “To win an award after all those many trials and many efforts is really rewarding.”

But there could only be one Product of the Year, and the award went to representatives from Las Olas Confections and Snacks, who took home the honor with its Anastasia Confections brand Coconut Cashew Crunch. With coconuts on trend, plant-based proteins like almonds becoming more and more desirable, and pouch-bagged snacking items increasingly attracting consumers’ eyes, the Crunch capitalized on a variety of trends.

“It was completely unexpected. We were not even ready. We were very surprised, pleasantly surprised, of course. We tried to make something completely unique, and I guess we did it. We nailed it,” Krisztina Toth told me upon receiving the award. She then added, laughing self-depricatingly: “Sometimes you just get lucky; you play long enough, and you get something great.”

With its tens-of-thousands of attendees, an ample attendance from buyers across a variety of categories, and new and unique products from across the globe, the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show was not to be missed. As a recent addition to the industry, it threatened to overwhelm my senses by the end of the first day, but after three days meeting exceptional people and trying amazing products, I will definitely be back for more.

And though the show may be over, Deli Market New will continue to report on the innovative offerings and important connections made at the show.

Specialty Food Association