The Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco ended last week on a high note with record attendance for the third year in a row and the largest exhibit space in its 38-year history.
The international trade event attracted more than 18,600 buyers from top names in retailing and restaurants who made connections with 1,300 exhibitors representing the latest in specialty foods and beverages from across the U.S. and 35 countries. The show took place Jan. 20 – 22 at Moscone Center.
“Consumers are embracing specialty food like never before and the strong numbers reflect continuing positive momentum for the industry,” say Ann Daw, president of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Inc. (NASFT), the show’s owner and operator.
The show covered 209,750 square feet of exhibit space, up 2 percent from 2012, and filled virtually every square foot of available space. Booth space sold out well before the event, and sales for next year’s show are already 10 percent ahead of last year at this time. The exhibit halls were filled with 80,000 products from food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs, including 365 specialty food companies from California, and 25 emerging food makers in a special pavilion called New Brands on the Shelf.
Show highlights included the keynote address by John Mackey, co-CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market and the NASFT’s inaugural Leadership Awards honoring outstanding contributions to the specialty food industry and beyond.
At each show the NASFT assembles a panel of trendspotters to comb the exhibit halls and identify what will be hot in the year ahead. Their picks for the top five emerging trends of 2013 are botanical beverages, oils beyond olive, new twists on blue cheese, lots of seeds, and bananas as an ingredient in chocolate, confections and more.
At the end of the show, exhibitors continued their long tradition of giving back with a major donation of specialty foods and beverages to Bay Area soup kitchens and food pantries in partnership with Feed the Hungry, an anti-hunger organization. The food, gathered by more than 100 volunteers, was enough specialty cheese, produce, confections, snacks and meats to feed 5,000 individuals in need.
The NASFT presents two Fancy Food Shows each year. The next show is the Summer Fancy Food Show, which takes place June 30–July 1 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. The 39th Winter Fancy Food Show will take place Jan. 19–21, 2014, at Moscone Center.