New York City, NY—The Specialty Food Association’s 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show took place June 26–28 at the Javits Center with 2,670 exhibiting companies and more than 47,000 specialty food professionals walking the exhibit halls, making it the largest in exhibit space since the show was established in 1954. Attendees represented some of the top names in specialty retailing such as Whole Foods, Krogers, Trader Joe’s, UNFI and KeHE.
“It seems like there are a lot of new innovative companies at this year’s Fancy Food Show,” says Paul Vlahos, vice president of sales for Ozery Bakery, Vaughan, ON, Canada. “For us, we always like the show because we see our existing customers and then it also gives us the opportunity to meet new customers across multiple channels: retail, food service, conventional and natural and organic, of course.”
In 2015, U.S. sales of specialty foods hit $120.5 billion, up 21.2% from 2013. Specialty food represents 14% of all retail food sales, with the category crossing over into natural as more brands seek healthier ingredients, organic certification and non-GMO verification in light of consumer demand for better nutrition, transparency and sustainability.
Many specialty food brands have long straddled the two categories. Syosset, NY-based Kitchen Table Bakers, maker of gourmet parmesan crisps, for example, has long strived to provide people with restricted diets a high-quality, gourmet product that is wheat free and gluten free. As an all-parmesan cheese product, the company uses only antibiotic-free dairy. Kitchen Table Bakers has been active since 2003 and having faced major roadblocks along the way, attributes part of its success to the support of the Specialty Food Association.
“The Specialty Food Association has really made a difference with the SOFI Awards,” says Barry Novick, founder of Kitchen Table Baker. “They kept us going.”
The company, which has been a finalist and victorious in previous years, was awarded the 2016 SOFI for Vegan or Gluten Free Product for its ParmCrisp Mini Aged Parmesan Crisps. On the whole, this year’s SOFI Awards had a record 3,200 entries, 100 finalists and 28 winners. The award recognizes innovation and helps raise the profile of recognized brands.
Per tradition, at the end of the show, exhibitors donated over 100,000 pounds of food to the Specialty Food Association, which in turn donated the products to City Harvest, a New York City food rescue organization. The donation filled a total of six tractor trailers.