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Bill Lynch, Summer Thompson, and More Recap 2024 Winter Fancy Food Show

Bill Lynch, Summer Thompson, and More Recap 2024 Winter Fancy Food Show

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

Innovation was one word I heard countless times during the 48th annual Winter Fancy Food Show. The Specialty Food Association (SFA) event was as exciting as ever, with significant foot traffic on the floor and a wide variety of exhibitors. As always, it was an honor to witness all of the industry catalysts doing what they do best.

Bill Lynch, President, Specialty Food Association“This is the first big industry show of the year, so we know that buyers are going to be looking for 2024’s best-selling products,” Bill Lynch, President of the SFA, told me. “We are also looking to create more immersive and interactive experiences through tasting stages, demos, and really showcasing what the Las Vegas food scene has to offer. SFA has hosted curated tours for the buyers in addition to giving exclusive access to some of the top Vegas clubs after the show. What’s surprising this year is that we have had a lot of on-site registrants. We are tracking at over 12,000 attendees with roughly 1,100 companies exhibiting.”

SFA’s partner country was Japan this year, which is the first time the association has had an Asian country as its show partner. The Japan Pavilion brought an impressive range of unique specialty products that many agree would perform wonderfully in the United States market.

The Specialty Food Association recently held its first big show of the year: the 48th annual Winter Fancy Food Show (Image credit: Specialty Food Association/Loop Seven)

Day one brought a host of interactive educational opportunities, including talks on the Big Ideas stage such as the How I Buy with Wendy Robinson of Market Hall Foods talk. Pavilion popups took place throughout the day, as well as the Charcuterie Chalet Showdown in the evening.

“What we’re all about as a not for profit is serving the community year-round. This organization was created by our members and for our members,” Bill continued. “When we bring our community together, we hope they are educated, inspired, and experiencing new and innovative products. We feel the SFA and our Fancy Food Shows create an inclusive community space for all types of specialty makers to convene. All are welcome, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

Education continued on the second day of the show, and at the end of the day, the SFA hosted the Fancy Face-Off. This gave industry entrepreneurs the opportunity to make their pitch to a panel of judges, including Whole Foods. The winner, Todo Verde, received a $10,000 check, and the fan favorite, Tilden, got a $1,000 check.

From interactive educational opportunities to competitions like the Fancy Face-Off, WFFS was all about innovation (Image credit: Specialty Food Association/Loop Seven)

A highlight from the third day, in addition to sessions that took place throughout the event, was the SFA Trendspotter Panel on the Big Ideas stage. As a pacemaker in the industry, the association partnered with industry experts to share some of the hottest up-and-coming trends.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here are testimonials from several specialty savants at the show:

Summer Thompson, Senior Buyer and Program Manager, Market Hall Foods

Summer Thompson, Senior Buyer and Program Manager, Market Hall Foods“It’s always nice coming to the Winter Fancy Food Show and seeing people after our holiday season. It’s great to come back replenished from our relationships and reconnect with our community. We look forward to the rest of the year, planning our promotions, working with our producers, and strengthening all of our relationships so that we have another successful year.”

Joseph Piraino, East Coast Regional Manager, DePalo Foods

Joseph Piraino, East Coast Regional Manager, DePalo Foods“The show is going really well. We’ve had a lot of people looking for unique products that work for them in today’s day and age. Our product is great for grab-and-go, so we’ve had a lot of traffic come through this time. We have a new Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough with a great, subtle flavor, as well as a reformulation of our Spinach Stromboli, with a lot more cheese and garlic. We are going into year two of the Tear-and-Share, and it’s been going great.”

Durae Hardy, Brand Manager, Laura Chenel

Durae Hardy, Brand Manager, Laura Chenel“The show has been great. We are always so excited to meet in person with our partners and potential buyers. It’s also great to be able to taste all of the amazing innovations going on in the world. Today we’re showing a new flavor of our 4 oz goat cheese logs in a Pear, Wine, and Rosemary flavor. It’s really meant to be a taste of place and celebration of Sonoma County.”

Guillaume Dupin, Export Manager, Maison Agour

Guillaume Dupin, Export Manager, Maison Agour“We have really enjoyed the show this year. There has been a lot of foot traffic and interest in our products, and we’ve been able to host a number of interesting meetings. We just got the agreement to export our soft-ripened cheeses to the United States, so we are showcasing three of those products, along with a new smoked range.”

I never know how to end these articles, because I do not want the show to be over. A huge thank you goes out to the Specialty Food Association for hosting us every year. We’ll see you all in New York this summer!

Specialty Food Association