Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marketing Memo: 2008 Winter Fancy Food Starts Today in San Diego

The Winter Fancy Food Show, sponsored by the National Association For the Specialty Foods Trade (NASFT), kicks off a three-day run beginning today at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. The international food show ends Tuesday.

This year's show has nearly 1,200 exhibitors, 130 of which are brand new this year, according to Ken Seiter, NASFT's chief marketing director. The event features about 80,000 specialty foods and beverages, representing over 40 countries, Seiter said.

New to the Winter 2008 Fancy Food Show this year is the Natural & Organic Pavilion. The pavilion is a special dedicated area on the show floor where natural and organic foods products are featured. NASFT launched this feature last year at its Summer show in New York City. It was such a huge success for both the exhibitors and attendees, that the association decided to make it a part of the winter show as well.
The Natural~Specialty foods convergence
As we talk about often here, the natural and specialty foods industries are converging more and more each year. This convergence can be seen at retail, where stores such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Safeway (along with many others) continue to blur the line between upscale specialty foods merchandising and natural products merchandising and retailing.
This convergence also can be seen in the numerous new specialty, natural and organic grocery products which hit the shelves each year. There's a major trend towards using organic ingredients in premium specialty foods' products on the part of food manufacturers and marketers, including supermarket chains like Kroger, Safeway and others, with their recent combined premium-organic store brand grocery brand introductions.

There's also a growing trend towards going more premium or upscale on the part of traditional natural and organic foods product manufacturers and marketers. The buzz words today are "healthy" "green" and "premium." No longer do most natural and organic grocery products have the "it doesn't taste very good, but it is healthy" reputation. Rather, natural and organic grocery products are increasingly becoming the most upscale and premium specialty foods as well. We call it convergence.

Lastly, but not finally, this growing convergence between the natural and specialty foods industries; specialty, natural and organic products; and specialty and natural product merchandising and retailing, can be seen at this year's fancy food show in San Diego. Walk the booths, tour the focused exhibits, talk to your fellow attendees, and you will realize--like we do--how demonstrative this convergence is becoming.

Winter show is one of three held each year; international in scope
NASFT produces three fancy food shows each year. The summer show is in New York City, the mid-season show is in Chicago (in conjunction with the huge Food Marketing Institute show), and the winter show is usually held in San Francisco. However, every three years or so the winter event rotates to a city in Southern California. This year, as in years past, that city is San Diego. The trade group has been producing annual specialty foods shows since 1955.

In addition to its massive exhibit floor full of specialty, ethnic, natural and organic foods' exhibitors, the winter show also features numerous educational seminars and discussion groups. The educational sessions focus on everything from industry financial and marketing topics, to "meet the famous chefs" and other culinary-oriented seminars and discussions. (You can read a complete list of this year's educational events here.)

One of the most popular special exhibit features at the show is the "What's New, What's Hot" focused exhibit. This area contains a selection of new products chosen by association staffers which, in their opinion, have the potential to become hot sellers in the retail marketplace. (You can read about and learn more about the What's New, What's Hot" focused exhibition here.)

The 2008 Winter Fancy Food Show is international in scope. Food and beverage companies from throughout the globe are grouped together in an international area on the show floor. These companies and their countries are designated not only by signs designating the company names, but also with flags representing each country that can be seen throughout the exhibit hall.

Show expected to exceed last year's attendance
The most recent winter shows have attracted crowds ranging from 19,000 to 32,000 attendees. The events have experienced increased attendance nearly every year since the first show in 1955, according to Ron Tanner, NASFT's long-time communications head.

This year should be no exception. According to its pre-registration information, the trade group is expecting attendance at this year's show in San Diego to even exceed the attendance at last year's Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.

Additionally, many specialty, ethnic and natural foods vendors use this for the-trade-only food show to launch their new products. The number of new product launches at the San Diego show is expected to exceed last year's number, according to NASFT.

This is good news not only to the exhibitors and NASFT, but to retail buyers as well. Many of them use the show as a one-stop marketplace for viewing and tasting new items and line extensions, and plan much of their annual new item buying and retail introduction efforts around the show. They shouldn't be disappointed.

You can get all the information you need about the 2008 Winter Fancy Food Show at NASFT's show website here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update and review of this years 2008 Fancy Food Show. I could not agree with you more about “cnvergence”. As a startup company we combined a high end Alaea Hawaiian gourmet sea salt blend with organic corn to create a kosher and organic tortilla chip. Our unique shape and our mission to provide funding for ocean conservation has gained retail acceptance far beyond what we predicted. As you stated “ ...convergence is becoming”