The 59th Summer Fancy Food Show, touted by organizers as presenting 180,000 specialty foods and beverages from 2,400 exhibitors hailing from over 80 countries, took place June 30-July 2, 2013, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The show, hosted by the Specialty Food Association, moved back to New York City after being held in Washington, D.C., in recent years.

Trends observed on the show floor included a healthy interest in the international and especially the United States pavilions, which organized companies by the states they call home. These aisles, which last year seemed relatively empty, were some of the hardest to make one’s way through this year, indicating an interest among attendees in small business and local food. Coconut flavors and product innovations, from coconut-flavored chips to ice cream, continued to be prevalent, and there was a glut of homemade and startup condiment companies. The consumer demand for hot sauces and related items is evidently on the rise.

“It’s getting me exposure with the retailers. I’m getting to give them samples and show them new items,” said Sunnie Hunt of organic baby food brand Happy Family. She felt that traffic at her company’s booth reflected the increased importance of organic food to consumers. While interest used to lie with fresh organic produce for the most part, now, “the gateway is organic baby food.”

The highlights of the Association’s 41-year-old sofi Awards, given out to products featured at each show, ranged from a New Product award tie between Artisan Biscuits Ltd. for its new goat cheese and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.’s  Point Reyes Bay Blue cheese, to the best Chocolate product award going to Chocolat Moderne for its Avant-Garde Bar Blood Orange Bergamot Flavor. The Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show is held every January in San Francisco.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2013