The annual Summer Fancy Food Show was awash in the latest gourmet offerings.
By Richard Turcsik
There was quite a hubbub on the lower level of New York’s Jacob Javitz Convention Center in late June. “Look who it is!” one attendee exclaimed to her friend. “It’s Lidia from that PBS show. I got to go get a picture with her,” she said as she joined the long line that was forming around the booth of Woodbury, N.Y.-based Nonna Foods, where acclaimed celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich, host of Lidia’s Italy, was graciously posing for cell phone and camera photos while talking about her new line of jarred pasta sauces and imported Italian pasta.
“This is a new company that was formed by my son-in-law to promote my new food line,” Bastianich told Grocery Headquarters. “My pasta is made in Italy and I make my sauces here. It is all natural and fresh products. I use the best ingredients. I test a lot and we use the best tomatoes that are in season.”
Fine Italian food was also being sampled at the booth of Lucini Italia, where attendees could sample the new chickpea frittata and latest in flavored balsamic vinegar. “We have a new gift tin coming out for the holidays that contains four of our infused oils in 100-ml bottles,” said Meagan Parrado, communications manager at the Miami-based firm.
It was a taste of Italy with an Indian slant at the booth of Union, N.J.-based Deep Foods, where people dined on Naan pizza, made with Indian paneer cheese. Also being showcased was a Chicken Tikka Masala Complete Dinner for Two consisting of chicken Tikka Masala, Dal Makhani (lentil medley), two tandoori naan and four samosas. “This dinner for two is a whole new concept,” said Michael Ryan, vice president of marketing. “It’s a great way to introduce someone to Indian food.”
Fort Worth, Texas-based salsa manufacturer Renfro Foods was using the show as a test market for its Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa, debuting later this year. “The Ghost pepper was discovered in India a few years ago and has been certified as the world’s hottest pepper—hotter than habanera,” said president Doug Renfro. “We’re experimenting at the show with four different levels of heat to determine which version to go live with.”
Middle East peace may always be in question, but Israel and Palestine got along just fine at the Fancy Food Show.
At New York-based American Roland Food Corp’s booth, attendees were lining up to sample Tri-Color Israeli Couscous with truffle cream, pine nuts and chicken sausage. “A big trend this year is healthier grains and we want to give consumers more options,” said Lisa A. Kartzman, director of marketing. “The Tri-Color Couscous creates beautiful center-of-the-plate presentation and it is something healthy and easy that you can cook in minutes for your family.”
Downstairs, show goers were equally enthusiastic as they stopped by the Palestinian Pavilion, where they sampled a delicious dish of chicken and Palestinian spices. “We have seven Palestinian companies at our pavilion this year including olive oil, soap, spices, dates, sweets, really a wide variety of products,” said Emre Çilem, project specialist for Carana Corporation, the Arlington, Va. firm that organized the booth. “This is a really big show for us and lots of specialty food stores have been stopping by.”
Texas trash talking
Sweets were very big at this year’s show. David Hitchcock, W.I.T. (whatever it takes), at Midland, Texas-based Susie’s South Forty Confections was talking Trash—Texas Trash to be specific. That’s Susie’s South Forty Confections custom blend of cereals and pretzels mixed with fancy pecans drenched in creamy white chocolate flavored coating and marketed in adorable little plastic trash cans. A Beltway Trash line has been introduced in Washington, while Beverly Hills Trash is on its way for L.A. “We can private-label it anyway they like with the trash. They just tell us what kind of bow they want on it,” he said.
Over at Taffy Town’s booth, Jason Glade, vice president of marketing was talking about the more than 70 different flavors of salt water taffy that the Salt Lake City confectioner manufactures. “We’re one of the leaders of salt water taffy in gourmet flavors. It’s a great item for supermarkets to use as a bulk item in produce,” he said.
York, Pa.-based Wolfgang Candy Co. was highlighting Farmer’s Fair gourmet chocolate-coated pretzels, which are also available for private label. “It’s ‘PA-Preferred,’ proudly made in Pennsylvania. When you think about pretzels, you got to think about Pennsylvania,” said Mike Schmid, managing partner and CMO.
Joel Waggoner, proprietor of North Canton, Ohio-based Waggoner Chocolates was talking about his family’s 80-year heritage in the business. “We are not just another candy company,” he said, pointing to some of his new products like Key Lime Delights, a refreshing candy made with Key Lime juice, and Spring Buckeyes, a cute upcoming Easter offering. “Our Spring Buckeyes are new and come in five flavors. We created a character called Nibbles the Rabbit and our Spring Buckeyes are in pastels that are great for Easter and create a delightful presentation.”
Craig Nielsen, CEO of Waukegan, Ill.-based Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, was telling retailers that his line of pure vanilla is now more affordable. “There have been price decreases on Tahitian pure vanillas and organic pure vanillas as well,” he said. “Prices are going down about 15% to 20%. Tahitian is going down because of the exchange rate. All vanilla world-wide is traded in dollars, except for the Tahitian which is in euros.”