With more than 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries and regions, the Summer Fancy Food Show offered something for every taste.
At the recent Summer Fancy Food Show in New York people were literally going nuts over the latest offering from Harvest Song Artisanal Preserves—and with good reason. Harvest Song was sampling its soon-to-be-famous walnut preserves, made with whole walnuts imported from Armenia.
“We are picking them when they are green, so you are literally eating the husk, shell and the fruit inside,” said Joseph Miranda, national sales director, for the Hicksville, N.Y.-based company. “We cure them in their own natural syrup, so you get that sweetness, and there is no added pectin so you are getting just the fruit. We are specifically focusing on this one item because it has become our number-one seller. It is a great companion with cheeses, especially blue cheeses. That combination of blue cheese and walnut is an explosion of flavor in your mouth.”
The 24,000-plus attendees were equally enthralled by the show’s other 2,399 booths, which filled a record 354,000 square feet spanning 56 aisles spread over three levels at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in late June and early July.
Occupying a prime spot in the center of the main floor, the American Roland Food Corp. booth was a beehive of activity with attendees sampling the latest in imported gourmet products. An entire table was devoted to Roland’s extensive new product offerings, including green and Beluga lentils, black and red quinoa, Cookie Butter spread, Porcini Soy Glaze and Artichoke, Piquillo, Piquillo & Jalapeño and Piquillo & Artichoke Bruschetta spread.
“The Cookie Butter is brand new for us, and offers retailers an option to sell something similar to what Trader Joe’s has—but ours is better,” said Lisa Kartzman, director of public relations, at Roland. “The Rosé Balsamic [vinegar] we think is going to be the hottest thing this year. It is somewhere in between the regular dark balsamic and the white balsamic. It is a beautiful product that has a little bit of age to it—and is very hot and trendy.”
Lucini Italia Co. was touting its new balsamic too. “We have a three-year-aged Apple Balsamic that is infused with 100% natural Trentino apple juice,” said Meagan Parrado, communications manager for Miami-based Lucini. She informed passersby that the Trentino region is world renown for its apples. “In Tuscany you have olive groves lining the streets; in Trentino you have apple orchards,” she said. “Our Apple Balsamic is brand new but has already been picked up by a number of stores nationwide.”
Retailers should look for Milchap Sweet Potato snacks to appear nationwide too. “We changed our packaging from a brown craft box to a bag to make it more diverse and to broaden its use as a grab-and-go snack,” said Jennifer Chapman, co-owner of Charlotte, N.C.-based Milchap Sweet Potato Co. “Kids eat it by the handful. We are made from real sweet potatoes—not dehydrated or flour or flakes. We have a co-op of farmers in North Carolina that we get our sweet potatoes from.”
The company’s newest product is granola, which, she said is much lower in fat, sugar and sodium than a lot of granolas on the market. “We take the oil out and put sweet potato in,” Chapman said. “We get that natural sweetness from the potato. It caramelizes on the oats and makes crispy clusters.” The granola is available in Vanilla Honey, Cranberry Almond, and Blueberry Pecan.
Visitors looking for a nice cup of steaming hot coffee to go with their granola stopped by the Dazbog Coffee Co. booth where they could sample Russian-style coffee. “We are just about to kick off our bulk coffee program with Kroger in our Colorado region in King Soopers and City Markets,” said Anatoly Yuffa, CEO, of the Denver-based company. “We are doing a whole bulk fresh program with about 10 SKUS in our own branded unit. We just entered Heinen’s in Ohio and are also going into Bashas in Arizona and have national distribution through The Fresh Market.”
Officials at Numi Organic Tea were busy sampling their new line of Savory Tea vegetable teas. “This is a whole new tea ritual altogether, where it is not quite a soup, lighter than a broth, but more than a tea,” said Greg Nielsen, director of marketing for the Oakland, Calif.-based company. “It is made with dehydrated vegetables, spices and teas. There is nobody else doing anything like this. People can use it as a snack alternative in the afternoon, or when you are feeling under the weather.”
Available in six flavors—Spinach Chai, Broccoli Cilantro, Fennel Spice, Tomato Mint, Beet Cabbage, Carrot Curry and a Garden Sampler variety pack—Numi Savory Teas have a suggested retail price of $7.99 for a box of 12 tea bags.
On a cold chilly day that cup of vegetable tea would pair well with a bowl of seafood soup being introduced by Oregon Seafoods. “We have three curry-based sauce products and three distinctly different seafood soups, all developed by Oregon State University in their Seafood Lab,” said Mike Babcock, owner of the Coos Bay, Ore.-based company, which uses U.S.-caught and produced seafood. “There are more than a few people excited about our bisque because we won the sofi Award.”
Woodland Foods, a dried ingredients manufacturer, used the show to launch Manitou Trading Co., a retail line of 38 SKUs of beans, grains, rices and flavored rices. “We decided to go with simple packaging that allows the consumer to see the ingredients,” said Mike Brundidge, vice president of sales and purchasing for the Waukegan, Ill.-based company.
Condiments spiced up the show floor and taste buds.
Beaverton Foods, the Hillsboro, Ore.-based condiment manufacturer, used the show as a testing ground for its latest mustard prototypes, including a sweet mustard modeled after the bread and butter pickles that have a strong following on the East Coast. “We’re thinking of calling it a bread-and-butter mustard sauce,” said Domonic Biggi, CEO. “We’re trying to come up with a horseradish with a Cholula flavor. We have a Chinese mustard sauce that combines the hot mustard with the sweetness of duck sauce. Then we have a sweet potato fries sauce that we are working on as well.”
Biggi said the research gathered at the show is invaluable. “I come here and get a little feedback, we go back to our headquarters and hash it around and make some decisions. They could be on the market in a month,” he said.
Matt Jamie, owner and founder of Louisville, Ky.-based Bourbon Barrel Foods was talking about what sets his line of condiments, especially his flagship soy sauce, apart from the competition. “Our Blue Grass Soy Sauce is the only microbrewed soy sauce in the U.S.,” he said. “We buy only Kentucky-grown non-GMO soy beans, Kentucky wheat and use the same water the bourbon distillers use. It is fermented for 12 months and aged in a repurposed Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel.”
Andy Schloss, a partner in Chef Salt, based in Center Valley, Pa., was talking about a new line of seasoning blends. “They are made with unrefined salt, which means that the minerals have not been stripped out,” he said.