Fancy Food Show
Inside the show: What specialty food exhibitors experienced at the industry’s biggest event.
By Stef Schwalb
This past June, the Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) celebrated the 65th Summer Fancy Food Show (FFS). Taking over the entire expanse of the Javits Center in New York City, the three-day experience was packed with both new and repeat exhibitors, educational opportunities, and a wealth of networking opportunities for everyone in attendance. Last year, in our story – Tasting Trends – we provided an overview of the ins and outs of what the FFS experience is all about, so this year we’re cooking up something fresh!
Since full market forecasts in key categories and the evolution of the specialty food consumer is covered in-depth in The SFA’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry report, we decided to speak with a few exhibitors that are making products to meet specialty food trends we continue to hear buzz about. Some examples include the latest in CBD products; more options for America’s ongoing obsession with avocados; the ongoing demand for health-conscious snacks; food lovers’ increasing desires to add unique global flavors and spices to everyday cooking; and alcohol-free beverage options.
What follows is an overview from a range of company reps about their thoughts on FFS, how the show has impacted their bottom lines and their plans to participate in future editions. We hope this will help our readers to decide for themselves if FFS might be the right fit for them going forward.
Notes from the New Kids
“This year’s Fancy Food Show in New York City was our first time attending as an exhibitor,” said Serafina Palandech, CEO and co-founder of A Boring Life, an organic, CBD and hemp extract line of high protein snack products, hemp tincture and pet gummies. “I found the show was well-attended by buyers and service providers. As a new member, we were on the new floor, so folks sought us out to learn about new products and trends. We got a lot of sales traction as a result of the show, as well.”
“We had a great experience at the Fancy Food Show. Being part of the New Brands on the Shelf Pavilion brought a lot of attention to our All-New Avocado Leaf Tea. We met a lot of retail store owners, decision makers, buyers and new product teams,” explained Scott Wibbenmeyer, owner of Avocado Leaf Tea LLC. “The face-to-face interaction was invaluable. People got to taste our product and we had the chance to build a personal relationship. It was one of our first shows, but I could not imagine a better way to create an impact for a new product. Since the show, we are in conversations with major retailers and distributors. It’s a very exciting time, and we can’t wait to have our tea on shelves all across the globe.”
“Summer Fancy Food Show 2019 was our first time doing this tradeshow as a company. We are a mission-driven, hot sauce company – working directly with the farmers to grow the peppers and paying them fair price,” said Sufia Hossain, CEO and founder of Silly Chilly Hotsauce. “Being in the Fancy Food Show gave me a chance to share with the buyers of the entire world my recipes and what we are about. I don’t think any other tradeshows would offer the crowd we met here.”
“This was our first time at the Fancy Food Show, and I have to say it was the most organized show I have been a part of in 20 years of marketing. It was ideal that there were country pavilions and segments grouped together due to the size of the show,” said Lisa Pandolfini, vice president of marketing for Borges USA – Star Fine Foods. “As first timers, we had a lot of annoying basic questions, which were treated with courtesy and respect. The show attendee reach marketing was amazing. We obtained the newest customers from our What’s New What’s Hot and Holiday displays that turned out to be such a great value compared to the business it initiated. Overall, I believe that the business we will eventually get from the contacts at this show paid for our participation. We loved the lead generation and plan to attend again.”
“This was our first time at any major show – and the Fancy Food Show is an absolute must for any new business,” said Elliot Lyman, co-founder, Ammo Energy Bars, a line of all-natural, gluten-free granola bars with 10g of protein and 150mg of caffeine. “We met incredible contacts that we are now doing business with. It was a great learning experience.”
Thoughts from Returning Favorites
“Being new to the snack scene, the Fancy Food Show is truly one of the highlights of our year. This year we made some terrific contacts with snack buyers both through the Biz Builders program as well as through some phenomenal buyers that approached us on the floor,” revealed Diana Levy, owner and CEO of Undercover Chocolate Co., LLC. “These connections have already helped open additional sales channels for us and expanded our sales across the country. The show was also a great opportunity for us to network with other brands, manufacturers and ingredient suppliers who can be hugely helpful as we grow our business. Most importantly, we were able to get our product into the hands (and mouths) of a huge number of Undercover fans who are always shocked that crispy quinoa and chocolate could be so unbelievably delicious.”
“This was our second summer edition and fourth Fancy Food Show,” noted Loree Sandler, founder of Let Them Eat Candles, a line of fun, edible candles made from chocolate. “Overall, the show has been tremendous for our business and attending is very important for us.”
Insights from the Sofi™ Product of the Year – The Specialty Food Association’s Highest Honor (consider this the Oscar’s Best Picture!)
“We had attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January 2018. While we realized that the taste profile of our product – Mom’s Magic Masala – is unique to the market and extremely savory and delicious, we were surprised to win Sofi™ Product of the Year given how strong the competition was,” enthused Sumeet Jhamb, founder of India Spice Palette LLC. “At the Sofi™ Meet & Greet, we met and tried other winners’ products and were truly impressed. Since winning the award, we have deals in the works with two large distributors, so we anticipate expanding in the near-term particularly with our recently released seasoning packets. We also recently released our All-Natural Gourmet Fish Rub. It has a unique taste profile too; is another family recipe; and is a 12-spice blend that is gluten-free and healthy with ingredients including chickpea flour, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and fenugreek.”
A born and bred New Yorker, Stef Schwalb’s love of everything culinary knows no bounds. She has written about food and beverages for several years, covering everything from how to make goat cheese to pairing oysters and Chablis. Schwalb is the senior content manager at Gregory White PR where she writes about enticing food and wine experiences at restaurants, bars & lounges, wineries and wine regions across the globe.