More than 28,000 food buyers from around the world, including thousands from U.S. retail and restaurant companies, will descend on New York City a week from Sunday, to taste the latest sweet treats, savory snacks, spices, sauces, olive oils and other new flavors at the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show. The sprawling halls of the sold-out show will boast more than 2,700 food makers, importers and culinary entrepreneurs representing countries from Argentina to Wales. It’s slated to be the biggest turnout since the show began in 1955.
New York-based Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel will give the keynote speech at the three-day show, and he’ll also present the association’s annual Sofi Awards, which honor the cream of the year’s crop of specialty food items. Sofi finalists have already been chosen from a record 2,734 entries in 32 categories.
Plenty of other producers from New York will show off their wares — 30 companies will set up booths in the Taste NY Pavilion, another 15 will organize in a section called Brooklyn Eats, and still others will have booths spread out on the show floor. It’s the second year for the Taste NY Pavilion, which stems from a $60 million tourism campaign launched last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The focus on desserts and other sweet goodies will intensify even further this year, when 3D Systems demonstrates a its ChefJet line of 3D printers designed for pastry chefs, professional bakers and restaurant kitchens. The machines, which the company unveiled in January at the Consumer Electrronics Show, are slated to be commercially available later this year. The printers use sugar and colorings to turn out candies, cake toppers and other shaped sweets in a variety of flavors.
The show will also include chef demonstrations to show off new ways of using familiar ingredients and introduce new products, showcases of this year’s hot items, and educational programs aimed at helping food entrepreneurs market their products and boost sales.
The day before the official start of the trade show, the group will host a daylong session aimed at giving aspiring food entrepreneurs all the basic tools they’ll need to get started in the specialty food market. Leaders including association President Ann Daw, Renfro Foods President Doug Renfro and Saffron Road Foods Executive Vice President Jack Acree. Shorter sessions during the three-day show will cover topics including growing sales with social media, marketing for independent retailers and sustainable packaging.
Each year, the show adds a few more tech elements to help vendors connect with buyers. The What’s New What’s Hot! showcase of products from goat cheese to macarons to organic vinegars to raspberry jalapeno pepper jelly is listed online, with buttons that let buyers connect directly with the companies to get more information.
Companies and regions displaying at the show are getting the word out in advance, with new products both nutritious and indulgent that highlight some of the ways health and gourmet trends are influencing development of new food and beverage products:
- Susie’s Smart Breakfast Cookies, from former science writer Susie Allport, boast 2 grams of omega 3’s for heart and brain health
- Gratify Foods has launched five new flavors of gluten-free pretzels
- Owl’s Brew will pour tea mixers brewed in small batches and ready to pair with spirits, wine and beer
- Skysail Foods will host olive oil tasting classes taught by Master Taster Alfredo Marasciulo
- Bissinger’s newest product covers Shiraz-infused wine grapes with blue cheese and dark chocolate
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