Hot Trends Out West

 

The Winter Fancy Food Show is expected to bring together 18,000 buyers and more than 1,300 specialty food and beverage producers.

The holidays will be over and the weather will be chilly, but there will be plenty of excitement and activity at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco this January. The Moscone Center from Jan. 19 through 21 will be the best place to check out the latest beverage innovations as well as new products that are almost literally hot off the shelf.

Now in its 39th year, the Winter Fancy Food Show is the largest marketplace for specialty foods and beverages on the West Coast and often serves as a launching pad for entrepreneurs. According to Louise Kramer, communications director for the Specialty Food Association, the host organization expects to meet or exceed the record-setting attendance at last year’s show. The Specialty Food Association is anticipating 1,300 food artisans and beverage entrepreneurs from across the US and 35 countries as well as 18,000 buyers of specialty foods from top names in retailing and restaurants.

Hundreds of the exhibitors will be beverage companies as the Fancy Food Show has increasingly become a showcase for the latest trends in functional, natural and indulgent beverages offering innovative ingredients and refreshing flavors.

“Beverages play a big role in the specialty food industry. There’s an interest in functional beverages and drinks with unique flavor profiles with a healthy glow and that’s a real sweet spot for specialty beverage makers. At our shows, we’re seeing a lot of products in the area of coconut water, carbonated drinks mixed with real fruit juice and kombucha as well as mixers for cocktails with the popularity of cocktail culture,” Kramer says.

Wild Poppy Juice Co. will be displaying four varieties of its organic craft fruit drink with flavors like Blood Orange Chili and Grapefruit Ginger. George Bryson, founder and president of California-based Wild Poppy, says the brand, which launched in October 2011, first exhibited at last year’s Winter Fancy Food Show in the New Brands on the Shelf section. Bryson said the small company was able to build relationships with distributors and buyers at last year’s show.

“I think the Winter Fancy Food Show is a perfect fit for us as it meets us right where we are. We’re a premium, gourmet product and a specialty food item and we’re also a great-tasting, good-for-you drink. Fancy Food was a great place for us to launch and it’s a great place for us to come back to,” Bryson says.

According to Kramer, the New Brands on the Shelf section, which will feature newly launched beverage and food products, is a popular exhibitor area for buyers to find emerging brands.

Beverage exhibitors at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show include popular names in the natural and functional drink market like ALO and Grown Up Soda (GUS) as well as newer brands like Agave Dream, Blue Monkey coconut waters, Spindrfit sodas and seltzers made with freshly squeezed juice and Victoria’s Kitchen Almond Water drinks.

Deborah Meniane, who co-founded Victoria’s Kitchen Almond Water along with her husband David, says their almond water brand got a great deal of buzz when it premiered at the Winter Fancy Food Show in 2012 and through the show they were able to secure deals with distributors. Now exhibiting for the third year, the Menianes will use the show as a springboard to launch the brand’s new packaging.

“At this show, we get to meet the exact right buyers and people who are willing to try new things and it’s all about taste and innovation,” Deborah Meniane says.

The show also will feature the host organization’s new name and branding. Previously named the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the new name and branding – Specialty Food: Craft. Care. Joy. – draws attention to the people and passion behind the brands that the organization represents, Kramer says.

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