Specialty food items hold a forever spot in consumers’ hearts, thanks to their flavors carried over from another culture or the indulgence that pulls at our heartstrings. In 1952, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) was formed to preserve the integrity and prosperity of the specialty foods industry as legislation surfaced to limit markups on all food items. Shortly after, NASFT evolved into the Specialty Food Association (SFA) we all now know and love today.
“In 1954, NASFT met to discuss plans for the first-ever Fancy Food Show,” President Bill Lynch tells me as he takes me through the pages of history. “It evolved into the largest B2B specialty food and beverage trade show in North America where members can connect and inspire each other to reach a wider audience and bolster our industry.”
Now held twice annually, SFA’s Fancy Food Show provides a platform for established and up-and-coming producers to build their businesses all while spreading education, research, and insights to help every segment of the specialty food industry. This, in turn, helps evolve their businesses to ultimately deliver incredible food experiences to the shelf and to the consumer.
“When you exhibit at the Fancy Food Show, you make connections across a variety of channels, from qualified buyers and fellow makers to press and industry affiliates,” continues Bill. “You also find inspiration. The beauty of being a not-for-profit trade association member community is that the community and connections are there before, during, and after Fancy Food Shows all year-round!”
And while we all love going to shows, these events aren’t the only things SFA offers to the specialty community. The SFA staff is busy year-round curating opportunities for its members. These include education programming, trends and industry research, and networking at national and international trade shows. SFA’s sofi™ Awards also provide industry members an opportunity to garner recognition, sparking media coverage for the buy-side and making the product stand out on the shelf.
As the year draws to a close, there was one last thing I had to ask Bill: What can we expect from the upcoming 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show (WFFS)?
“Attendees can expect a lot come the new year! We anticipate a vibrant show that includes the Leadership Awards, sofi Winners, the Trendspotter Panel, and pavilions,” Bill tells me. “The pavilions comprises NEW NOW NEXT (which features incubator kitchens and startups), a diversity pavilion with BIPOC membership collective (included), specific product categories like upcycled foods and plant-based, dozens of State and Country pavilions, and Spotlight Showcases. We expect this to be the best one yet, so stay tuned as we bring more updates.”
You heard it, folks! WFFS will take place January 15–17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the newer and larger West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Deli Market News will be sure to bring you the latest, so keep an eye out as we get closer to Vegas.