Specialty food folks sure know how to party. Give them a reason to flock to Las Vegas, Nevada, and they will come in full force. Such was the experience at the 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show put on by the Specialty Food Association. The three-day event ran from Sunday the 15 to Tuesday the 17, gathering suppliers and buyers alike for a one-of-a-kind industry event.
“Last year’s winter show was our first show in Las Vegas, and coming out of the show we had so much positive feedback from the community, so that created a lot of momentum going into this year’s show. The 2023 event has grown 35 percent in attendance compared to last year’s show, so the outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous,” Bill Lynch, President of the Specialty Food Association, explained as we convened for the final day of WFFS.
The new West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center was packed with exhibitors and attendees, all with the common goal of discovering new innovation and partnerships. All in attendance were able to take advantage of some new and familiar features on the show floor this year, such as the New Now Next area displaying the newest products on the market and those soon to launch. sofi™️ Award winners who were recognized in 2022 at the Summer Fancy Food Show had their achievements proudly displayed—a sure sign of successful industry innovation.
Another new aspect of the show industry members were excited about were the many different Pavilions spread across the show floor. Not only were the familiar International Pavilions present, but the Confectionery, Snacks, & Sweets Pavilion; Beverage Pavilion; and Deli Pavilions all were host to some of the industry’s most forward-thinking companies, creating the ideal hubs for new discovery.
“As a not-for-profit trade association for members, we really want to emphasize that these shows are for the members and by the members, because we at SFA are simply stewards of what the members need,” Bill continued. “For us, these shows are really an opportunity for the community of members to gather together to do business, get educated, make new connections, and become inspired.”
In terms of education, the SFA takes an interactive approach with brilliant speakers speaking on timely topics. And, as Bill added, the beauty of being face to face is the ability for back-and-forth engagement. Monday evening, the association also celebrated industry trailblazers in the industry who are inspiring the next generation of specialty food buyers and suppliers.
But, don’t just take it from me how amazing the event was. Here is what our industry friends had to say…
Luke Buholzer, Vice President of Sales, Klondike Cheese Company
“We’re showing off our entire line; we have our semi-soft cheeses—brick, Muenster, Gouda, and Havarti—our Greek yogurts, and our Feta. The show has been very robust this year. There has been a lot of foot traffic and it has been great connecting with people again. Trade shows allow us to show folks in person what we have. It’s also great putting faces with emails and seeing a lot of people in the industry you wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet with.”
John Gibson, Owner, Shaft's Cheese & Co.
“Our new Shaft’s blue cheese stuffed olives for retail are being received very well. It’s been great to be able to meet some of the people you normally only interact with digitally. We’ve been super fortunate to have met many of the people we do business with and also people we really want to do future business with. Everyone has been so welcoming, gregarious, and outgoing. Founded by my father in 1999, we originally aged the blue cheese in a mine shaft in the Sierra Nevada mountain range for one to two years, and that’s how we got our name.”
Roseanne Crave, Marketing and Sales Manager, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese
“It’s so great to be here in Las Vegas again. The Winter Fancy Food Show is a great show featuring all the different gourmet foods, including cheese! It’s wonderful to see all of our buyers, distributors, and other exhibitors. We are looking forward to the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York this June.”
That's a wrap on Winter Fancy Food Show 2023! Until next time, thank you for sticking with Deli Market News.