Wine importer Bill Binczak had a problem at the 2009 55th Summer Fancy Food Show, one that many trade show operators can only dream about these days. Business was brisk; so brisk that he was running out of sampling cups. “We went through 900 of these little plastic sample cups just on Sunday alone,” he said, as he rushed to pour an attendee a sample of Primitivo del Salento Masseria Centonze, which he described as “a superb dry, deep red wine made from un-irrigated Primitivo grapes and imported from the Apulia Region of Southern Italy.”
The Fancy Food Show, produced by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade and held at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center in late June, was the second largest in history, with some 2,300 booths in 55 aisles and more than 24,000 attendees. Exhibitors told Grocery Headquarters that attendance exceeded expectations and most were pleased with the quality of the buyers roaming the show floor.
One of those happy exhibitors was Lisa A. Kartzman, director of marketing and public relations for New York-based American Roland Food Corp. Kartzman was so impressed by the heavy traffic passing through the Roland booth that she is already contemplating adding another 10 feet for next year’s show to enable Roland to showcase even more of the hundreds of products in its burgeoning imported gourmet line.
Debuting at the show was Roland Quinoa, a popular super grain from South America. “Quinoa is very trendy. The chefs are asking for this product and consumers are becoming very familiar with it,” Kartzman said. “We always had white quinoa, but we have now brought in the red and the black. Mostly chefs have been interested in using the red and black. The flavor profile is the same. It is all about the color. Quinoa is gluten free. It can be used as a side dish, a hot breakfast cereal and even as a breading.”
Roland was also showcasing its white polenta. “We always had yellow polenta, but white polenta is rare,” Kartzman said. “Our orzo is brand new and not even in market yet. We are getting a great reaction to it,” she said.
Lucini Italia Co. was highlighting several new products this year, including its eco-friendly boxed Italian olive oil. “It contains six of our 500-ml. bottles of oil and has an air-tight spigot to keep the oil fresh, plus no light can get in so it actually stays fresh longer,” said Christine Wagner, marketing manager of the Miami-based company. “It is a 40% savings over buying six individual bottles,” she said.
“Our Lucini pizza sauce is brand new and only packaged once a year,” Wagner added.
For those not wanting to make their pizza from scratch, Waitsfield, Vt.-based American Flatbread was sampling its frozen gourmet pizzas. Available in six varieties, the pizzas are made by hand and cooked in a wood-fired oven. “The pizzas are all hand-assembled and baked,” said Stephen Andrews, director of sales.
Consumers might want to personalize their pizzas by sprinkling on a little Bacon Salt from Seattle-based J&D’s Bacon Salt. Co-founder Justin Esch was busy handing out complimentary tubes of bacon-flavored lip balm and talking about his newest line extension, Big’s Sunflower Seeds with Bacon Salt.
“This is a c-store brand and gives us an additional 15,000 outlets,” he said. “But eventually there will be some grocery stores carrying it. Plus, they show our Bacon Salt on the package, so people will go to their local Kroger and ask for it.”
Over at Raleigh, N.C.-based Ford’s Foods’ booth, international marketing director Patrick Ford was talking about his company’s new Cayenne Bone Suckin Sauce rub as well as its mild mustard. “We had a jalapeno mustard and people were asking for a sweeter mustard, so we took the jalapenos out and now it tastes like a honey mustard. They are great products and it is the first time they are being seen by anybody,” he said, adding that Whole Foods Northeast had asked for samples.
Downstairs at Wakefield, Mass.-based Immaculate Baking Co.’s booth, vice president of sales John P. Bird was baking up his company’s new refrigerated line of all-natural biscuits and scones.
“You can’t find a refrigerated scone in the supermarket, so it is really unique, and nobody makes an all-natural buttermilk biscuit,” he said. “We’re trying to be the all-natural version of Pillsbury and Nestlé.” Packaged in cans, the scones are available in Cinnamon Chip, Blueberry and Cranberry Orange.
A must-stop at the Mexican pavilion was the Crown Nuggets Borrachitos whisky, tequila, vodka, and coffee-liquor flavored soft-chew candies being sampled by Crown Companies of Duluth, Ga. “This is a classic Mexican treat that has a broader appeal in the U.S.,” said president David W. Betts. “They retail for $4.99 for a 15-count tray that has a 12-month shelf life. Our initial focus has been the Latino/Hispanic market and I think the appeal is much broader and we are now targeting upscale supermarkets.”
Annie Chun’s was touting its new packaging that officials say will help its authentic Asian foods stand out better on supermarket shelves. “We are now touting our product benefits, like vegan and vegetarian and we updated our packaging to make it more vibrant and give it that premium feel and look,” said Mike Keeland, president and CEO of the San Rafael, Calif.-based company.
“We’re communicating more, but the whole thing looks more natural and premium as well,” added Diana Wang, director of marketing.
Bauducco, a baked goods company based in Brazil, was sampling its new line of tea biscuits. “Bauducco is an Brazilian company run by an Italian family that immigrated from Italy more than 60 years ago and started the business with Panettone, the traditional holiday Italian bread,” said Luciana Guidi, product manager for international markets. “By the end of this year we will have new launches such as breadsticks and Chocolate Panettone.”