This year’s Winter Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, held Jan. 20-22 was one of two high-profile conventions for the specialty food industry. Chefs and restaurant owners, retailers, manufacturers, importers, and members of the media attended this large gathering of professional “foodies”, where exhibitors from the U.S. and more than 32 countries showcased their products in their full glory in order to gain entry into the American market or widen their consumer base.
Pictured below: A trolley on Powell and Market reminds us of the beautiful city hosting the 2013 Fancy Food Show.
It was the first time I ever attended a convention of this type and was stunned simply at the sheer magnitude of the event. I was amazed -and a little overwhelmed- by the quantity of new products seeking to break into the U.S. market and blown away by the diversity of products.
Pictured below: One of many jams promoted of the Fancy Food Show: Viola’s tangy and spicy Jalapeño Jam.
One minute I was twirling caramel with shredded coconut in my mouth, and a few aisles down the convention floor I was savoring a slice of Fermín’s exquisite Iberian ham (jamón ibérico). There was plenty of sampling of both sweet and savory foods, such as fine cheeses and charcuterie from Europe and North America, and chocolates and brownies, and snack bars promising health benefits. The products that certainly had a strong presence on the convention floor were: olive oils, chocolates, coffees and teas, savory and sweet sauces, vinegars, chips and snacks, health food, including the chía seed, flavored honey, and salts, alone or combined with herbs or spices.
Pictured below: Sierra Exportadora from Peru promoting an array of Andean products.
As I made my way toward the international section of the convention floor, represented by Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions like Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Chile, Spain and Brazil, I noticed the common thread in most of the products: Items were traditional products selling themselves with a unique, more contemporary twist, using regional staples to produce an entirely new product. An example was Pacha Mama Gourmet’s quinoa noodles and pasta made with an Andean fungus!
Pictured below: Gandules Exportadora from Peru put on an impressive display of colorful peppers at the Fancy Food Show.
Peru’s assortment of brightly colored peppers sure caught my eyes and grain-rich regions in Peru have also bred an assortment of gluten-free flours. There were also staple products coming from regions not traditionally known to produce them: the award-winning olive oil from Uruguay, Southern Olive Oils, and the Chilean olive oils by Deleyda and Olv Oil. There was mineral water, Agua de Piedra, from Mexico, imported by Sierra Madre Beverage Co. And, of course, the show had its own lineup of health products, like green coffee from Brazil, which, according Copermonte’s representative, is consumed as if it were a tea and contains weight loss properties. The healthier alternative to candy, “Banana Bites”, chocolate covered banana pieces by Buena Fe Chocolates, from Ecuador, also had quite a crowd of attendees sampling and asking questions.
In our next post about the Winter Fancy Food Show, we’ll be showing our favorite products from the event.
Pictured Below: An assortment of Antonio Mozzarella Factory cheeses, including maple chipotle goat cheese.