July 10, 2014
Last week, the National Association of Specialty Food Trade held their Summer Fancy Food Show trade show in NYC. While I didn’t have a chance to attend because of previous commitments, David from North River Dry Goods, a snacks company, walked the show one day and shared his observations which he has given us permission to share with all of you.
- I’ve been going to the show for the last four years as an attendee only and each year it seems to get bigger and more energetic. If the size of a booth is any indication, many of the small food companies I saw four years ago are getting bigger and more professionalized. A small company I saw four years ago that might have just had the owner at a booth, now might have the owner plus her two worker bees helping to present and demo product. A good sign, I think.
- Similarly to #1, some small brands have re-branded and upgraded – more professional packaging, more cohesive message, etc. Speaking to one owner, the shift was to stand out on the shelf and look more professional relative to other bigger company brands and an increasing number of professionally branded small competitors.
- The small food space is beginning to feel crowded in particular spots. Sweets and high quality candy were prominent, although no more than any other show (maybe I was just hungry!). The beverage sector also seems very active – lots of variety. I met one owner of a small flavored water company that had clearly poured a lot of money into marketing and he was hoping that they would be an acquisition target in the near future.
- I thought the “What’s new, What’s hot” exhibit was well done and gave attendees a great way to see many of the new small brand products in one place without having to walk all around the show. Each product was in shelving behind glass with a bar code and booth number so you could track it down. As for the organization of the show itself, this was probably my favorite feature – again, I’m skewed to wanting to see new and growing brands so this played right to my interests.
- Non-GMO continues to feature prominently. I would say it was more prevalent than organic at least in terms of growth over the last few years. Gluten free also continues to be a strong message as does dairy free. Small food companies are clearly following the trends and leading the way for consumers with restrictive diets.
- I spoke to two small food company owners who said the show felt like it was going to be a big success for them in terms of: a) meeting retailers they otherwise would not meet, b) learning about peers and competitors, and c) laying the ground work for new orders.