Gourmet samples filled every corner at New York City’s Jacob Javit’s Center for this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show. 2,400 exhibitors from 81 countries came together to showcase their culinary displays to a sold out show of 24,000 attendees. Since 1955, the Fancy Food Shows have created the opportunity for companies to bring their food and beverage products to the consumer. The National Association for the Speciality Food Trade brings such speciality food products as spices, jams, cheeses, coffee, snacks and more. Some of the most commonly seen products included natural and organic, fair trade, confections, kosher, gluten-free and vegetarian.
The international representation was impressive. Canada, China, France, Italy and Korea were the most populated exhibitors. Other international participants include Barbados, Ethiopia, Jordan, Senegal, Turkey, and Zimbabwe, among others.
A tour of culinary creations encompassed 331 ,000 square feet of display space laden with 180,000 specialty foods, the unfamiliar mixed in with the familiar. There was something new to discover in each aisle of exhibits. This was an event where one would surely find a product to rave about.
The unique and unforgettable: Bubbies Homemade Mochi Ice Cream; Brownie Pops (brownies on a stick), Kerry Gold Cheese; Philip R’s Lollibons (ice cream on a stick) and ice cream bonbons; J&D’s bacon flavored mayonnaise and popcorn; Olivia’s Croutons; Raw Ice Cream Company; Reber’s Mozart-Kugelin made with pistachio marzipan, high quality hazelnut praline and almonds, fine bitter sweet chocolate and milk chocolate was among the outstanding confectionary items; Hippie Chips from Rock n Roll Gourmet; and Tortuga rum cakes and sauces.
Tortuga Rum Cake Company was among “What’s New, What’s Hot!”, the hottest products following the hottest trends. “ Our free standing shipper display continues to be very popular with our retailers,” said Monique Hamaty-Simmonds, CEO and president of the Tortuga Rum Cake Company. “Many people are not aware that in addition to offering the #1 best selling Caribbean rum cake, we also have flavored gourmet coffees, hot and savory Caribbean sauces, rum fudge and more. We are striving to expand our full line of authentic Caribbean products throughout the US market.”
The NASFT Sofi Awards honor the best in specialty foods and beverages. Winning an award is an opportunity for companies to gain new representation in the food industry. The winners were announced June 28 with a keynote address by Executive Chef Dan Barber. Among them are Dulcet Cusine, who presented Mild Indian Curry Ketchup; Effie’s Oatcakes from Effie’s Homemade, which the owner suggests to pair with cheese, seasonal fruit or a cup of tea; The Ginger People from Queensland, Australia; and Poco Dolce, the creators of Sesame Toffee Tiles.
“We’re delighted about the Sofi Award. It’s a real honor and recognition for us,” said Irene Costello, managing partner of Effie’s Homemade. “We’re have recently launched a new product, pecan Nutcakes in July.”
Gluten-free exhibits included Belgioioso Cheese, Inc., CocoMira confections, Empress Chocolate Company, New England Cranberry Company, The Republic of Tea, San Gennaro Foods, Tiger Tiger USA and Valley Fig Growers.
Among the popular Kosher products: Jelly Belly Candy Company’s Cocktail Classics with flavors such as Margarita and Peach Bellini, chocolate party favors from Chocolate By Design, Inc., nationally recognized Sweet Shop USA (who handmakes each of their delectable chocolate creations), Sable and Rosenfelds Foods’s Mediterranean Olive Bruschetta Topping and Tipsy Russian Mustard with Vodka, and the aged Bijou goat cheese with a one-of-a-kind hazelnut and buttery flavor from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery.
Fair-trade goods are a growing commodity. Some examples at the Show included Buywell Coffee, organic spices and teas from Frontier Ingredients, the authentic and exotic fruits and chocolates from Kopali Organics, Machu Picchu Trading, Natural Cinnamon Sticks and Pretzel cookies from Natural Nectar, VerMints and White Coffee Corp.
Cheese and cheese alternatives is the largest specialty food category. According to the NASFT, in 2008, there were $3.4 billion in sales. The popular cheeses were blue, Roquefort and goat cheese. There were 2,349 new product introductions in 2008, with significant growth in chocolate, confectionery products, desserts, ice cream and alcoholic beverages.
At the end of the third day, a team of City Harvest volunteers arrived at the show to collect leftover food and beverages.
Next year’s Fancy Food Show will be held in San Francisco in January and another in Washington, D.C. in July.