After two years, the Summer Fancy Food Show is back in New York City with a big bang.
The show opened Sunday, June 30 with sold-out exhibit halls, a new look, and positive momentum for the $86 billion specialty food industry.
In 2011 and 2012, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. (NASFT), the show’s owner and operator, relocated the event to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., during the renovations at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center .
“New York City is the birthplace of the Fancy Food Show,” said NASFT President Ann Daw. “The city is an unmatched destination for our exhibitors and attendees and we are delighted to be back. With the upgraded facility and record sales in the specialty food industry, we are anticipating a very strong event.”
Now in its 59th year, the show is the largest marketplace devoted exclusively to specialty foods and beverages in North America and a must-attend event for top names in retailing and foodservice in the U.S. and abroad. The three-day show ran through Tuesday, July 2.
A number of Filipino products made their appearance at the show.
Among them Mama Sita’s marinades, mixes and sauces, dried tropical fruits from Profood USA, Magnolia ice cream and artisan chocolates from Davao made by American chocolatier Askinosie.
Mama Sita’s was represented by Claro Reyes, a nephew of Mama Sita’s founder Teresita Reyes and Simon Pascual, the company’s sales and marketing manager.
“We got some inquiries and we’re happy that they like our products,” Pascual said, adding that the sauces and condiments that Mama Sita’s is known for have been sold in Asian and Filipino stores in the U.S. since the 80s. What they are trying to sell to the mainstream this time are the vinegars and various barbecue sauces and marinades.
“We are putting Filipino flavors out there and this fancy food show is a perfect venue to do that,” Pascual said. Mama Sita’s products, he added, are already available in 43 countries across the globe.
Pascual lamented the lack of support from the Philippine government when it comes to promoting Filipino products to the global market.
“Look at Tunisia, Italy, China. They’re all subsidized. For the Filipino products to move here in the States, we have to be advertised by the government. One is subsidy, and the next is education on how clean we should be in labelling, we need to move away from the artificial flavors,” he said.
The show is the largest to date, filling three floors and 354,000 square feet of exhibit space. More than 2,400 companies from across the United States and 80 countries and regions presented their latest cheeses, chocolates, vinegars, oils, grains and other specialty foods at the event.
“Our show celebrates the passion and creativity that fuel specialty food,” said Ann Daw, president of the Specialty Food Association. “This is our largest show ever, and center stage are new and innovative foods and beverages that come directly from people who care about producing top-quality food.”
A veteran of the show is Profood USA president Henry Sy. His company is the largest Philippine-based dried fruit producer.
“We started with only 20 products and now we have more than 200,” Sy told the Asian Journal. “This is our tenth year participating and we want to continue exposing our products to the east coast market.”
Among his products are the Philippine brand dried mangoes, which are also available at Costco, Target and Walmart. For the show, they are introducing new products such as dried guyabano, dried guava, guava jam, mango-tamarind, coco-mango and pineapple-mango balls.
“We have the best fruits in the world because of the tropical weather and the rich soil that we have in the Philippines. There’s nothing in the world like our fruits,” he said.
The Summer Fancy Food Show shapes the hottest trends in specialty foods and beverages from the United States and around the globe.
In addition to 1,500 US exhibitors selling the finest food products, from blue cheese from Oregon to spicy chocolate from Tennessee, there were 34 international pavilions, including first-time pavilions from Bulgaria, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Switzerland. US exhibitors also had opportunities to connect with buyers from countries like China, Mexico, Canada and Brazil, which are participating in a special international buyers program.
Cocoa from Davao
Among the American exhibitors is Shawn Askinosie, the man behind Askinosie Chocolate, a small batch bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer based in Springfield, Missouri. Shawn was recently named by O, The Oprah Magazine, as “One of 14 Guys Who Are Saving the World.” They said, “Why we’re fans: The philanthropically-minded chocolate entrepreneur aims to get students thinking about business ethics in a way that could have ripple effects for generations.”
Askinosie, founder and chocolate maker at Askinosie Chocolate, spent nearly 20 years as a criminal defense attorney before he started making chocolate. In 2007 he sold his first chocolate bar and Askinosie Chocolate began.
Askinosie Chocolate bars are crafted from 100% traceable, single-origin cocoa beans from four regions: San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador; Davao, Philippines; Cortes, Honduras; and Tenende, Tanzania.
“I currently buy more beans in the Philippines than I do in any other country,” Askinosie told the Asian Journal. “We were the first chocolate makers in the world to export beans from the Philippines since land reform in the 1980s.”
He works directly with a small farmers group in Davao. Askinosie uses the beans from Davao in a host of their products, including the white chocolate, dark milk chocolate and their chocolate hazelnut spread.
Askinosie said he has developed a deeper relationship with the farmers through the years that he has been working with them.
During one of his bean sourcing trips in Davao, Philippines, he learned of a nutrition problem at the village’s Malagos Elementary School, where they had about 100 students suffering from malnutrition. In an effort to meet this need, Askinosie Chocolate began a sustainable nutrition program by selling Tableya, a traditional Filipino hot chocolate beverage made of roasted cocoa beans that are milled into tablets.
The Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of Malagos Elementary produced Tableya and shipped them to Springfield, MO on the same container the cocoa beans were shipped. Askinosie bought the tableya for a dollar per unit and sold it for ten dollars. The nine dollars went back to the school to provide meals for the students at Malagos, not just serving the 100 in the list but the entire student population.
“We monitor the height and weight of the children and 90% of the students have gained weight since we started the program,” Askinosie added. “This local PTA in Davao is way more active than any PTA in my hometown. They do everything.”
Asked how he found out about the cocoa beans of Davao, Askinosie remarked, “a little research.”
“It’s historic. It is the first place the Spanish brought coco to grow in Asia in the 1600s. They took the beans to the Philippines. I wanted to be a part of that history, that is why I went there,” he said.
(NYNJ July 5, 2013 LifeEASTyle Magazine pg.2)