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Phil Kafarakis, SFA President, Discusses Upcoming SFFS

Phil Kafarakis, SFA President, Discusses Upcoming SFFS

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

“It’s an exciting time to be in food.”

These are the words that stick with me after Phil Kafarakis, President of The Specialty Food Association, and I get off the phone, having just discussed 2019’s Summer Fancy Food Show. With new dates—June 23-25—and an updated format, the upcoming show at Javits Center in New York City is sure to be one for the books.

But how did this show refresh come into being? Phil is more than happy to fill me in.

Phil Kafarakis, President, Specialty Food Association“The most important metric that we have when gauging the success of a show is: Are we meeting attendees objectives in coming to the show? Are they seeing new and innovative products, seeing them in such a way that they understand them and can get information on them? And are we meeting and connecting with the exhibitors, so they can physically do business with people?” Phil says to me, noting that the Fancy Food Show’s success has grown exponentially since it incorporated a B2B environment.

With new dates and an updated format, this year's Summer Fancy Food Show will be one for the books

Incorporating feedback from a survey that provides insight from attendees and exhibitors, changing the dates of Summer Fancy Food was a no-brainer. The refreshed format, too, has been a continual work in progress, as Phil and the association have worked diligently to ensure that its attending members get the most out of the experience as possible.

“The format piece of this is important to us because we’re known for the great innovation on the showfloor,” Phil says. “We saw a lot of excitement built around our Incubator Village, which works with nonprofit incubators to bring forth new concepts and showcase emerging food companies. We also partnered with Italy to bring a tasting experience to showgoers, and these types of formats are being received very, very well.”

In addition to Incubator Village, the association continues to invest in its sofi™ Product of the Year Program, which highlights more than 40 categories of products and brings forth the best of the best as they relate to innovative, new products. It also looks to continue its What’s New What’s Hot area of the show, as well as the frontburner pitch competition—a new addition to the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show that’s proved incredibly popular. Consider it a food-forward Shark Tank, with three emerging concepts presenting their product and business plan to buyers across the categories.

The show's main goal is to ensure that it's meeting attendees' objectives, including networking and sampling opportunities

These planned activities allow for upcoming—and well-known—businesses to get in front of the buying community. This, Phil stresses, is one of the key goals of the show; one the association makes its top priority. With buyers from foodservice, national grocery chains, regional grocery chains, e-commerce, convenience stores, and the healthcare industry, the show, Phil explains to me, is not just for restaurateurs or specialty food retailers; it’s open to the entire buying community.

“In our new mission, we talk about championing, nurturing, and connecting our community. The show is the way to champion the community by showing businesses off, nurture it through giving everyone the chance to engage with each other, and connect in a way that’s healthy business practice,” he says, before telling me that the show is, in a sense, sacred. “Small businesses are trying to make it, and it’s our duty to help them be prepared.”

An exciting time to be in food, indeed. For more on what to expect at Summer Fancy Food Show, keep reading Deli Market News.

Specialty Food Association