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The Summer Fancy Food Show kicked off June 17 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., amid unprecedented interest in specialty foods. The show, now in its 58th year, runs through June 19 and is the largest marketplace devoted exclusively to specialty foods and beverages in North America.
Among 2,250 exhibitors, more than 230 specialty food companies are making their show debut, up from 180 newcomers at last year’s event. Additionally, a special pavilion showcases 34 emerging food entrepreneurs, many in their first year of business. The show’s signature workshop for individuals interested in launching food companies, “The Basics: The Business of Specialty Foods,” filled up quickly.
“Our industry is showing real momentum, and the vibrant mix of new exhibitors reflects that,” noted Ann Daw, president of the New York-based not-for-profit National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Inc. (NASFT), the show’s owner. According to NASFT research, specialty food sales in the United States reached a record $75 billion in 2011.
The event features a keynote address by chef and culinary innovator José Andrés, who will present the sofi Awards for the best specialty foods and beverages of the year at a red-carpet ceremony on Monday, June 18.
Other show highlights include “A Visual Feast,” an interactive exhibit celebrating the NASFT’s 60th anniversary; the winners of a first-ever New York City-sponsored contest for food manufacturers; 20-plus seminars, including “Top Ten Mistakes Beginning Manufacturers Make”; a What’s New, What’s Hot! display with products, gift ideas, and natural and organic products, as well as the latest from participants in NASFT’s Diversity Program; “Business Builders 1-to-1,” a customized “matchmaking program” for buyers and suppliers; a Chef Demo Theater event presented with the Cooking Channel; and a major food donation to the Capital Food Bank.
The Summer Fancy Food Show moved to Washington last year from its longtime home at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York because ongoing construction. The event will return to New York in 2013.