The Specialty Food Association works each year to strike a good balance of international and domestic companies at the Summer Fancy Food Show, and this year is no different. Of the lineup of 2,700 presenters spread across the 350,000-square-foot trade show, slightly more than half are U.S. companies and the rest come from 49 countries around the globe, said spokeswoman Louise Kramer.
Whether they come from the other side of town or the other side of the world, the companies all have similar goals at the show — to get noticed by distributors and retailers looking to sell their products. Welsh company Bravura Foods has a leg up — a new deal will put the company’s Peanut Hottie hot drink mixes in 2,300 U.S. Wal-Mart stores this fall. The deal with the world’s biggest retailer gives the company credibility when it comes to pitching other merchants, said Lisa Marie Gawthorne, co-creator of the product.
Peanut Hottie comes in plain peanut butter and peanut butter and chocolate flavors, and Gawthorne and partner Karl Morris are working to develop a K-cup version of the drink, which is marketed as an alternative to cocoa and other traditional hot beverages. But, while new products are important, the main goal right now is building on the momentum of the Wal-Mart deal, Gawthorne said.
The show was peppered with companies whose products are striking a chord with chefs and retailers, including Musashi Foods, which launched its Japanese Spicy Mayo and Midori Green Sriracha two months ago and already has a presence in about 600 stores in the Midwest, a few local New York restaurants and a deal with U.S. Foods that puts the products in college dining halls. All because founder Gideon Sarraf got frustrated that the Mayo, a common condiment at sushi restaurants, wasn’t readily available at retail.
Spicy flavors with more complex notes had a higher profile at the show this year, as evidenced by the list of winners of this year’s sofi Awards, which included: Smokra, a smoked okra from Rick’s Picks that’s made with Spanish paprika; Triple Ale Onion Savory Spread from Wozz! Kitchen Creations; Millionaire Shortbread with Smoked Hickory Sea Salt from The Sticky Toffee Pudding Company; and Mushroom, Garlic and Scallion brie from Elegant Brie.
Consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palates are spurring new product development at companies including Barhyte Specialty Foods. The 32-year-old family business founded by Susie Barhyte has built on its initial line of mustards with Saucy Mama brand of mustards and marinades with flavors including Apricot Ginger and Lime Chipotle. The company also launched new wing sauce flavors this year with a recipe contest for food bloggers. The winner was a chicken and waffle sandwich and the creator will get a trip to the World Food Championships in Las Vegas in November, said spokeswoman Colette Harris.
Other companies are boosting sales of a handful of products as chefs and manufacturers find ways to use them in new products. Peppadew discovered growing wild 15 years ago in South Africa, by an executive who was strolling the grounds of his holiday home. Scientists analyzed the peppery sweet fruit and determined it was a new discovery, and the founder trademarked it and began marketing it around the world. Today, Peppadew USA markets three versions of the fruit that sell at retail stores, and the products are also featured in several other products including cheeses and chips, as well as restaurant dishes like the Goat Cheese Peppadew Pepper appetizer at Macaroni Grill and the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich at Panera Bread.
The Blue Hill Yogurt booth was another busy one, with attendees clamoring for tastes of the four savory vegetable-based yogurts created by Chef Dan Barber for his two restaurants in Westchester, N.Y. and New York City’s West Village. As more guests asked about buying some to take home, Barber decided to create a version of the yogurt for retail, said staffer Katie Estes. The yogurt is made with milk from grass-fed cows, with no added sugar, in flavors like beet, carrot and butternut squash. “Any sweetness comes from the inherent sweetness in the vegetables,” Estes said.
Did you make it to the show? What products struck you as particularly innovative this year? Tell us about it in the comments.
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