One of the best perks of my position is that sometimes I am able to work with clients and brands that align with my personal interest, and occasionally attend shows that are relevant to them as well. Those of you that know me, know that one of my passions is cooking. For instance, there are four types of people on Facebook; people who post pictures of their kids, people that post pictures of their pets, people that post pictures with other people and people who post pictures of food they make. Put me in the last category (sorry to those of you who this annoys). That being said, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the NASFT Summer Fancy Food Show for the last two years, as it has been in DC.
If you are unfamiliar with the show, read this description (now for 2013) from specialtyfood.com, “North America’s Largest Specialty Food & Beverage Event will be in New York City from June 30 – July 2, 2013. Discover 180,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more. Connect with 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries & regions.” Though the show is not open to the public, one of FrontLine’s other account managers and I attend, as our company has clients that exhibit at the show.
There are several things that make this trade show different from most other trade shows. One is, the wide range of exhibitors. There are all types; from small two person companies who recently created their product, up to familiar international brands.
Another difference is, how to work the show as an attendee. Say for instance, your objective is to procure a new olive oil for your grocery store chain. A simple search on the show’s exhibitor list returns 318 results for olive oil, and the key to determining the best fit is your pallet. You could try 300, and you might miss the one that would really have been the best fit.
Lastly, another difference in this show, something that I of course notice, is booth design. A lot of the smaller companies are not using the trade show circuit to get the word out, in fact this could be the only one that they attend. With that, I saw everything from nothing but product, up to custom islands and MMUs. In between, are a lot of custom, very unique, creative booths. A couple of examples would be a Greek company with two live people painted as statues on pedestals, and a man dressed as a medieval squire pointing me to a live cooking demo.
From the attendee perspective, this trade show is about pre-show marketing and differentiating your space, as much as it is about the product itself. With limited time and appetite, the breakthrough to the attendee has to come prior to the sample.
We had a blast again this year, and we literally commented numerous times about how EVERYTHING we had eaten was amazing. Here are five must eats (in no particular order):
–D’Artagnon – Duck Bacon
–Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – Oatmeal Ice Cream Sandwich
–Country Fresh Food and Confections – Many varieties of fudge (they were all great)
–Skillet Street Food – Skillet Bacon Spread
–Jamondor USA Corp – Serrano Ham
This unique trade show was a pleasure to attend. It is nice to meet the many, many people who pour their souls into their products. I imagine some of the people I met will have a product that builds into a national brand over time. I’ll be sure to show my support to the people I met, and buy some of the products I tried. Best of luck to all of those who exhibited.
Author: Chase Howells
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