Specialty foods to take center stage at Summer Fancy Food Show

As they do at the end of June each year, fancy food makers will bring their culinary creations and compelling stories to New York City, in the hopes of being noticed by retail and foodservice buyers and, possibly, having their products identified as one of the hot new must-haves.

About 34,000 attendees from the global food-and-beverage world are set to descend on the Javits Center this weekend for three days of educational programs and tasty discoveries at the Specialty Food Association’s annual Summer Fancy Food Show.

Attendees include buyers from retailers and restaurant chains such as Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s, all in search of the next hot trends and brand-new items.

Specialty foods lead in growth

Specialty foods are a growing sector of the food manufacturing world, with total annual sales hitting $140.3 billion last year, an 11% increase from 2015, according to the association’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry report issued earlier this month. Retail sales of specialty foods grew 12.9%, significantly outpacing the 1.4% growth for all food retail during the same period.

According to the report, the top five growth categories were:

  1. Water +76.1%
  2. Rice cakes +64.1%
  3. Refrigerated ready-to-drink coffee and tea +63.2%
  4. Jerky and meat snacks +62.1%
  5. Shelf-stable creams and creamers +61.7%

Foodservice sales of specialty items were up 12.8% and online sales of specialty foods grew 21%, according to the report, which was done in partnership with Mintel and will be presented in more detail during a session at the show.

Upwards of 2,400 exhibitors will fill the venue’s 365,000 square feet of exhibit space, including 1,300 US food and beverage companies and 1,100 vendors sharing artisan products made in 54 countries from Argentina to Vietnam.

A few years ago, the association began signing a different country sponsor for each summer show, and this year’s sponsor is Greece. Greek food makers will fill a pavilion with displays of olives and olive oil, grains, honey and other ingredients that are part of the Mediterranean diet.

Fancy food trends past, present

Take a look back at some of the trends and brand-new items from past shows in SmartBrief’s coverage, including:

In addition to discovering new products, attendees will also have the option of attending educational sessions and panels throughout the three-day event, with topics including:

How Women are Redesigning the Food System; Market Trends for Artisan Gelato in the United States; and Export 101: Bagels to Bangkok, Wontons to Warsaw.

Two panels on Sunday will offer insights from buyers on the trends they’re seeing and the combination of data gathering and gut instinct that goes into their buying decisions. And Stoneyfield Farm co-founder Gary Hirshberg will lead a session on the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit to food business success.

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