By Robin Mather
Some 25,000 makers and buyers are expected to attend the 2018 show, according to officials at the Specialty Food Association, which stages the show.
“This is a precedent-setting time for industry buyers from all channels,” says Phil Kafarakis, President of the Specialty Food Association, which stages the show. “As they work to meet consumer interest in high quality ingredients and great taste, specialty foods offer answers. In fact, specialty food sales are rapidly outpacing the traditional categories. The Winter Fancy Food Show is where buyers and retailers will find innovation on display and have the chance to see and sample the newest of the new and the best of the best. It’s a show not to be missed.”
“Over 1,400 exhibitors will cover more than three and a half football fields of space and showcase 90,000 specialty food products,” said Kafarakis. “From the United States, California will have the largest show presence, with over 351 companies represented, followed by 98 from New York and 52 from New Jersey. Twenty-three countries will travel to the show, with Italy, Japan and France having the largest pavilions. Top names in retailing, foodservice and hospitality flock to the show to discover new products, observe trends and network. ”
Two pre-show sessions are scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 20. Both are all day, from 8 am to 5 pm. Biz Builders offers 1:1 matchmaking exhibitors and attendees for one-on-one meetings, while “The Basics: The Business of Specialty Food” will be held off-site and has a separate fee of $99 for members, or $199 for non-members.
The show floor opens Sunday at 10 am. The floor closes at 5 pm daily. A “New Brands on the Shelf” pavilion will feature new producers, showcasing their artisanal and niche products. Incubator Alley allows visitors to meet specialty food producers at the earliest stage and explore their products before they hit the marketplace.
Multiple “Excite Talks” each day will feature influential specialty food producers talking about how they see and create the future of food. Among the speakers are Daniel Nevers of KitchenTown, a food startup incubator in Silicon Valley; Camas Davis of the Portland Meat Collective in Oregon; Eileen Gordon of Barnraiser, a social marketplace for consumers and farmers; and Bruce Friedrich, Executive Director of The Good Food Institute.
Sales of specialty food sales as of 2015 (the last year available) were $120.5 billion, up 21.2 percent since 2013. The largest categories are cheese and cheese alternatives; frozen and refrigerated meat, poultry and seafood; and chips, pretzels and snacks. Jerky and other meat snacks are among the fastest-growing categories.
As exhibitors have done since 2014, at the end of the show, they will donate surplus samples of meat, cheese, confections and snacks to the Specialty Food Foundation, which works to reduce hunger and increase food recovery efforts. The foundation will in turn donate the products to Feed the Hungry, the San Francisco-based program that has been serving three meals a day to the city’s hungry, homeless and poor since 1969. In 2014, the program served 108,511 meals to seniors and 2,481 meals to families with children.