Wednesday, January 27, 2010

what is "fancy food" anyway?

in my last post i told you i went to the fancy food show...and that i would tell you about it later. today, as i was sorting through the two bags of marketing materials i was given at the show, i figured it was time to write about the items that interested me...and pop the rest of the stuff into the recycling bin...

so..first of all...what is the fancy food show, you ask? the best way to describe it is a convention (you have all been to conventions, right? usually i would say insert groan here)...but this is the coolest trade show ever...where attendees spend three days tasting specialty food! the event is sponsored by the NASFT (national association for the specialty food trade, inc.) and they promote it this way"

"Produced by the NASFT since 1955, the Fancy Food Shows are North America's largest specialty food and beverage marketplace.
16,000 - 24,000 attendees
250,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more
1,300 - 2,500 exhibitors
81 countries represented"

ok...did you notice they said 250k products? and yes, they are all available for taste. so picture a massive convention this case moscone center in san imagine tables and tables and tables set up in no apparent order with tastes of chocolates, cheese, cookies, scones, olives, dips, oils, sauces, truffles, chorizo, teas, honey, chips, water, coffee, bbq sauce, salsas...etc. i cannot even list them all. then spend three days...each one from 10 am-5pm...doing nothing but tasting food? man...a tough job...but someone has to do it...(i did meet with a few of my organic ingredient suppliers, but honestly...that took very little time...really, i just ate...and ate)

in all seriousness...i was absolutely thrilled last year when i was able to attend for the first time.(you have to be in the trade) and i had a terrific time...this year was even better. i knew what to expect...paced myself (this is no time to even look at marginal food much less waste valuable space in your stomach) and had a game plan as to what i was looking to accomplish:

1. do i ever want to show my products there?

2. market research as to new trends and food items...what do i need to know to run a successful food business?

3. are there products that fit my brand's grown, eco-friendly, local and...most important...delicious?

4. what interesting items should i blog about?

well...there were so many ideas, concepts, business strategies and trends that emerged, i probably have a year of blog stories...and some interesting items to add to my "farmhouse food" assortment that i look forward to telling you about.

to avoid writing a novel in what is supposed to be a blog post...i am just using today's story to give you an overview...and to tell you about a couple of my favorites from the show...and one bizarre (in my opinion) item. some trends deserve their own handcrafted chocolates? gluten free everything? flavored waters? vegetarian/vegan? agave? sparkling teas?, eco-friendly items? small companies using only local ingredients? see what i mean? loads of stories to tell you.

one thing i am not going to do is tell you about the items i disliked...ones where the food was so bad i actually spit it out....first of all, i am not a trained expert...just because i did not like it, does not mean you won't...after all, they did get to the show...and just seems mean...oh well...what can i say? odd items...i will tell you about....just plain bad? we'll skip in this blog...

so today...just a couple of mentions...
#1 my favorite concept of the show could be titled "why did it take so long?" a company called glacia icebox water in a box is packaging pure arctic spring water in a paper a milk carton. i have been horrified the past few years watching stories of the damage discarded plastic water bottles do to wildlife and the environment. what a brilliant solution! milk cartons...the company says their packaging is "sustainable, biodegradable, recyclable, environmentally friendly, disposable...they say it reduces the amount of refuse in landfill by 97%!!..healthy and eco-sensitive. and, the water is delicious!.... i love this company...their people were knowledgeable, friendly and very funny....and the product is my favorite of the show (which is saying a lot...did i mention all the chocolate, cheese, oils and baked goods?) check them out at

#2 my most enjoyable experience was talking to the people at a company called flamous organics...they make organic falafel chips and hummus bottled dressing. the sales rep was good...but in the middle of his pitch...the founder took over and this guy was hilarious! i should start by saying the products are delicious...and could sell themselves....but he started talking about how to eat his food, how to serve, gave recipes, told us about the "unlimited uses" for the items (remember, these are chips and salad dressing) one point he asked me to "feel his hand" to see how soft it was...he proceeded to tell me it was due to the "organic ingredients in the hummus" and recommend addition to eating the dressing... i use it as a "face cream and hand lotion"! this man was very, very passionate about his products...and i love that.
hands down...the most bizarre was a company called "cupless joe". walking by their booth, i was handed a small packet of capsules. the sales rep started talking about how the convenience of a capsule of coffee and a glass of water would change my life...for a minute i thought this was some new type of instant coffee...nope. the capsules are full of dried, concentrated coffee which you take to "get the coffee high without actually having to drink coffee". their marketing campaign says"
"No Spills. No Taste. No Burns. No Stains. No Coffee Breath. Fewer Restroom Breaks. Coffee Without the Cup." maybe if you don't like coffee this is a great idea...but to me...a coffee lover...this just seems weird. are there that many people who dislike coffee and/or black or green tea...and need energy this way? most herb tea drinkers i know want to avoid caffeine in the first place. this one i just did not understand....what do you think? (btw...i thought that tag line was hilarous...but then wondered if it was supposed to be funny??)
alright...a brief overview of the fancy food show....i look forward to sharing details of the food trends of 2010 throughout the year. my favorite take-away from the show was discovering some cases...rediscovering some handcrafted organic local napa products...and the passionate people behind these small companies. i will be adding some of these brands to my website's collection of napa farmhouse foods during the next few months to complement my own handcrafted food and i look forward to telling you their stories.
in the interim...did you attend the show? what were your favorite items? and...if you didn't...what food trends would you like to hear about?
diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
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Brooke said...

Coffee in a pill form? As a coffee lover, I'm aghast!

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hey brooke...exactly what i thought...not sure i see a need for this product...and give up coffee? never!

Robin said...

I really enjoyed this article Diane. It was very interesting learning about this Show. I am looking forward to hearing about all the chocolate you tasted. Which one was your favorite?

Rachelle said...

Yes, the cupless joe is just strange to me. Perhaps it's marketed to the super Type A types?? What's more enjoyable than sitting down with a steaming CUP of coffee??

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi rachelle..exactly my point...even type a's i know survive on numerous cups of will be interesting to see if we are totally off base and this product becomes the hottest new thing!!!

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks marion...appreciate the comment.