School’s out, the pools are open and gardens are in bloom.
But perhaps the biggest marker of the start of summer for about 30,000 specialty food and beverage makers, and the foodservice distributors and retailers that sell their wares, begins this Sunday with the opening of the Specialty Food Association’s 67th annual Summer Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center in New York City.
Typically about 2,000 vendors ranging from fledgling food startups to global conglomerates fill the show floor, often illustrating the latest trends in the food world, and this year’s show promises to be no exception.
Trends that emerged from last year’s show reflected changes wrought by the pandemic, including an increased focus on healthy eating and simpler ingredients. Also at 2022’s show, several new brand founders shared stories of how the upheaval of the pandemic had led them to make changes like leaving established careers to follow their culinary passions.
This year, veteran food industry researcher and consultant David Lockwood will return to present the latest State of the Specialty Food Industry report. Last year’s report forecasted that retail sales of specialty foods would hit $91 billion in 2022, up from $87.2 billion the previous year.
Other trends highlighted last year in the SFA’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry report included supply chain challenges that led to uncertainty in forecasting, growing demand for brands created or led by women and people of color and the rapid rise of specialty beverages.
Global flavors in specialty food
Food companies from around the world fill many of the show’s aisles, some that already have a US presence and others that are seeking buyers who will help them break into the market.
Each year the Specialty Food Association names a country partner to highlight during the show and this year’s partner is Morocco, which will feature 40 companies in the Moroccan Pavilion.
Exports of seafood and agricultural products from Morocco to the US hit a record $439 million last year, according to the trade group Morocco Foodex, with strong performance in categories including citrus, olives and canned fish. Global food exports from the North African country hit $7.79 billion in 2022, a nearly 20% increase from the previous year.
Visitors to the show will be able to taste some of the country’s specialties on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Taste it Live! cooking demonstrations.
Famous foodie faces
Culinary star Giada De Laurentiis, whose accomplishments include opening restaurants and a catering company, writing 10 best-selling cookbooks and creating the e-commerce platform Giadzy.com, will give the keynote on Monday.
The talk, titled The Four Trends in Food that Matter Now, will explore the latest trends and issues De Laurentiis is seeing in her different food ventures.
Sometimes food companies will take advantage of the attention the show receives to make news. Last month, Miami, Fla.-based Ciao Imports unveiled a new partnership with Giadzy.com to provide logistics services for the platform’s imports of specialty foods and ingredients from Italy.
In other news, celebrity chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio has unveiled an expanded partnership with The Jersey Tomato Co. that includes the launch of a line of premium sauces under the Colicchio Kitchen brand. The new products are set to roll out at retail locations this fall.
Other show highlights will include:
A range of educational sessions covering topics like social media strategies, diversity buying and insights into working with buyers.
Announcement of the winners of the annual sofi awards on Tuesday, June 27.
For folks who can’t get to the show in person this year, SFA has teamed with The Food Institute to provide daily livestreams.
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