Fancy Food Show Summer 2019 Excites and Inspires

Fancy Food Show Summer 2019 Excites and Inspires.

Fancy Food Show Summer 2019 Fancy Food Show Summer 2019

Every year, in summer (NYC) and winter (San Francisco) the Specialty Foods Association (SFA) ( holds a trade-only event, the 

‘Fancy Food Show 2019’ (FFS). The 3-day summer edition in NYC just closed and managed to excite and inspire 30,000+ attendees. A great success, full stop!

Perfectly organized; it truly is USA’s leading food show. The specialty food business now is a $148 billion industry: 16% of all food sales are at retail.

Online sales grew 24% in 2018. Mainstream stores hold 82% market share. 

The Fancy Food Show format has all the basics of a good trade show, such as dedicated exposition halls, with 2,400 exhibitors, seminars, competitions, and awards. But wait, there is more… Here are the six ‘specials’ we liked best:

The SFA Trendspotter Panel reported daily what triggered their attention:

  • Specialty waters, as the top category forecasted growers;
  • Plant-based snacks, veggies as carb substitutes, and dairy alternatives; from trend to movement; a custard-based ice-cream; chocolate with fruits and veggies; skipping the nuts;
  • Packaging innovations, make preparing  meals and snacking easier;
  • Mission-driven companies, powered by concerns on a variety of issues: societal changes, environmental, eco-ethical, health;
  • Functional foods: antioxidants, no preservatives, special spices, and foods that fight or prevent ailments

A daily newspaper with ‘always something new’ is distributed reporting on events, news, innovations, and background info on brands. So far, so good. But FFS has much more to enjoy for the food community as SFA initiated engaging events:

Walking the Fancy Food Show avenues, talking, tasting, what more do you need? On a side note: in general, State coordinated avenues (Vermont, Maine, Missouri, etc.) seem a tad more lively, and engaging than most Country avenues. 

Incubator Village showcasing food incubators and start-ups. Lauded Chobani Incubators and Cornell’s Food Venture Center were two of the eight incubators we visited. Afia, with Chobani Incubators, is a start-up with frozen Mediterranean food such as falafel and kibbeh -we only wished we could have drizzled some culinary argan oil on the delicious products we tasted.  

Cornell University and SFA released the “Professional Food Buyer Certificate 

Course”. First of its kind in the USA as far as we know. MIT, other Cornell institutes, and Penn State University also contributed to the program, supervised by Prof. Dr. Robert Gravani. This is an extensive online program that will help strengthen your skills and knowledge as an industry buyer. 

Learn more:

Big idea stage

Where chefs, entrepreneurs, advocates, and educators shared experiences, ideas, trends, and facts. 

 Alison Cayne, founder of Haven’s Kitchen took us on her journey of an NYC cooking school,  the lifespan of meal kits who show robust growth of 36% but sees most of its subscription terminated in 6 months as home cooks feel pressured: ‘I have to cook now’. So her cooking school brings the skillset, options, and fun without the pressure. And Gen-Z seems to love cooking -and checking out what diet is best for them. 

Edelman, a major global pr and service firm, talked about their ‘Trust Barometer’. This measuring tool is the result of an annual global survey on trust and credibility, for organizations, industries, and countries. The Food and Beverage industry is about in the middle of the spectrum compared to other industries, the 2019 survey reported. Not so much trusted: Fast Food, Additives, and Agribusiness. Here is the link to the barometer:


The State of the Specialty Food Industry

The main stage was where the keynote ‘The State of the Specialty Food Industry’, was presented by Mintel’s David Lockwood. For more of this in-depth look, from sales data to where the market is going, check out the publication in Specialty Food Magazine:

Fancy Food Show Summer 2019

SFA president Phil Kafarakis introduced and moderated panels, and explained SFA’s commitment to building and facilitating the food community with SFA members. 

We all enjoyed his special love for ‘photobombing’: connecting new initiatives with all involved.

Walmart was presented as a disruptor and that was proven to be the right choice. They launch 100 new brands every 3 months. Walmart has 4,000 stores but can launch a brand in as low as 10 stores. 

Fancy Food Show Summer 2019

Buyers from Walmart were present to connect with new brands on the spot, a great idea. Did you know Walmart’s average sale is $40 for a basket with 10 products?

  • Maker space sessions: education for SFA members on a wide range of topics such as pricing, e-commerce, product development, co-packers, etc.
  • Taste it Live: 6 chefs showcase their cuisines during the FFS. Morocco presented itself as ‘The Kingdom of Taste’ in the country pavilion section with delicacies such as olive oil, dates, capers, and canned veggies. EACCE (Morocco’s export control agency), again, promoted Morocco’s Cuisine with live demonstration cooking sessions. Their vision: consistent branding as Spices and Taste are ambassadors of Moroccan cuisine.

Of all cuisines of Taste it Lives a crowd favorite emerged: Chef El Hadi. 

Fancy Food Show Summer 2019

Just flown in from Morocco especially for the FFS, celebrity chef El Hadi’s cooking wowed the attendees. Located in Taste it Live, the exclusive tasting section of the FFS, a demonstration kitchen with seating was set up. 

Morocco, Korean and Italian cuisines showed their best.  Besides Moroccan staples like couscous, his own creations were showcased and presented for tasting. 

Chef El Hadi and his enthusiastic team were not only cooking but real ‘animators’, inviting all to taste delicious Moroccan food. And not a lot is widely known about Moroccan food. A lady who initially declined to taste told me why she didn’t want to try: she didn’t like ‘rice dishes’… So it is important to educate, and what better education than with your palate?  Chef El Hadi has a huge following on social media and his recipes are also on YouTube (ChefElHadiOfficial) with almost 400,000 views.

Some of the exhibitors of Moroccan products:

 Fancy Food Show Summer 2019

Moroccan delights by Meska Sweets, handcrafted in Englewood, New Jersey. ( When you fly in the front section of RAM’s Dreamliner you will have tasted Meska’s Moroccan Macaroon! 

‘Casa’ was represented of course, as booths by Casablanca Food, and Casablanca Market. The latter is known for handmade home decor and now has selected condiments, all made in Morocco. Casablanca Food, also known as ‘Mina’, has a wide selection of harissa, tagine and shakshuka sauces, olives, and lemons. Tipiak showcased a variety of couscous boil-in-bags.

Foussifood, from Pennsylvania, is a family company pictured above. 

Foussifood, from Pennsylvania, is a family company pictured above. 

Mom Zineb Ramadan is the founder and CEO. Foussifood focus is on authentic sweet and savory Moroccan cuisine. Couscous in 4 varieties: meat, vegan, spicy, and vegetarian), Harcha (a bread galette) and Moroccan cookies. What we tasted was delicious.   

Examples of other booths that attracted our attention: 

Rosti, a potato snack; I’m sure you did not guess filling a potato rosti can be done within a second. With a machine, that is. And as we bag a lot of stuff in our lifetime, Cuisine Bag is a sachet loaded with savory flavors, all-natural, for (classic) cooking. three flavor profiles were created. The wide variety of cheeses keeps surprising. 

We learned more about taste profiles from Cheeseland’s Job Baas. 

American tuna, Oregon, is all about taste and transparency. Each can of tuna can be traced to a ship that caught the tuna. Wild albacore tuna is pole and line caught, MSC certified. 

Seitenbacher‘s ‘Muesli for active people’ can be combined with an all-natural cold-pressed oil. Very true. We use daily culinary argan oil with muesli: tasty and healthy! 

Gilles, Milwaukee, introduced 14 varieties of frozen custard. 

Javanese Coffee, again a family start-up, blends its own coffee from its own plantages in Indonesia. Their branding reflects transparency and eco-ethical values, important to two-thirds of nowadays customers. Here is an impression:

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