‘You’ll know when you see it’ and You’ll know when you taste it’, were the titles of the 2018 Fancy Food Show, in the Javits Center in NYC, ending july 2. Perfectly organized by the Specialty Food Association (SPA) (www.specialtyfood.com) more than 2,500 exhibitors showcased their food and beverages to 35,000 visitors from around the world. It is the largest industry event in North America for Specialty Foods: from chocolate to chips, snacks, from dairy to muesli, energy bars; spices in teas, specialty salts; from sardines with vegetables to – no, no Culinary Argan oil yet. But olive oil galore, and about 100 types of olives. Easily. Interesting to see the 250 ml size is still the norm for specialty oils, and a few manufacturers offered vegetable oils as a spray. I did not see a ‘mist’ spray dispenser at the show.
About half of the exhibitors were from the US, and 250 from New York State. Small start-ups, niche players, artisanals – to industry giants. All sampling…200,000 products. two hundred thousand products. Cauliflower pretzels? Check. Turmeric Latte Mix? Of course. Blood orange infused olive oil? …
Use of the name‘‘Superfood’ seems a bit on the rebound; it’s now ‘Plant-based’ and ‘non-gluten’ that was most visual. And ‘Parve’, ‘Halal’ not mainstream. But it can be my selective perception.
Organic and Natural products dominated the show, and therefore this show comes close to the only US organic trade show: Expo East/West. For USDA organic listings: ( www.organic.ams.usda.gov/integrity ).
All eco-ethical values were represented: kosher, vegan, non-gmo etc. Accountability for corporate (brand) behavior and responses to environmental disaster have the attention of customers who demand ethical behavior even when no one is looking, writes Lorrie Baumann, the editor of Gourmet News.
What got my attention were product names (from genius to creatively different), info on labels (very informative) and packaging (engaging and fun).
Food waste and sustainable packaging is a topic for the organizers of this show- and it paid off).
The three largest categories:
– Cheese and Plant-Based Cheese.
– Frozen & Refrigerated Meat, Poultry & Seafood
– Chips, Pretzels & Snacks
I never fully realized the economic impact of this sector. The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2018, a report the SPA published, working with research firms Mintel and SPINS/IRI list as total for the U.S. Specialty Food Sales: $140.3 billion, up 11 percent since 2015. This is about 16% of the total market. And according to mr. Phil Kafarakis, the SPA president the specialty food sector grows nine times the rate of all food at retail: the entire food sector grows 1.4%, but the specialty food segment 12.9%.
For us, at SULANYC, takeaways are promising:
-online is the fastest growing sales channel,
-specialty stores need to educate customers
-plant-based is driving growth and has become mainstream, not niche. Single ingredient and sustainably sourcing are getting more attention.
Ever wanted to make your cocktail more ‘approachable’?
The sofi Product of the Year award at the Summer Fancy Food Show, was awarded to
“The Bitter Housewife Cardamom Bitters” founded by Genevieve and Dan Brazelton, from Portland. Their bitters are savory and said to add depth to sweeter drinks based on apple, pear, or orange, but also blend well with the smoky characteristics of an anejo tequila or scotch.
And as we especially focus on customer segments Lohas and Millennials:
Awareness, Transparency. Good cause and eco-ethical values are key.
Company stories they can relate to -and check. But benefits have to be there.
Brand loyalty? Innovation? Mwah. Traceability:’ where does it come from’? ‘how is it made’? Videos and visuals: you have 10 secs to get the attention or you’re toast. French toast.
Price will always be a factor, but for ‘delicious’, ‘relevant’ and ‘natural’ young consumers are willing to pay. Food choice awareness is here to stay, as is disruption in all retail channels. Engagement with customers is key; social media campaigns, packaging.
Not surprising for new yorkers, who see 20 feet of ‘waters’ in the supermarket aisles, ‘Water’ is the fastest grower -in dollars – with a change of 75% 2015-2017. Sparkling drinks grow the most. Brands add spices, fruits, about everything under the moon and market it with a compelling story. Healthy! Lifestyle! Tasty!
Asarasi, a company that uses water collected from Maples trees, removes sugar, carbonates and bottles in glass. By sourcing water from living trees they created the world’s only sustainable & renewable, bottled sparkling water. Asarasi’s cool website (www.asarasi.com) lists they are USDA certified.
On a sideline: Maple producers use only 3% of the saps they collect for syrup and maple products.
The remaining 97% is pure tree water
that is not utilized and discarded. Each
year up to 1 Billion Gallons of
pure, naturally filtered water are harmlessly extracted from living Maple
Can you think of other products, where
97% literally goes down the drain -but
could be used alternatively?