Happy Anniversary!

August 24, 2010

Congrats to these NASFT members celebrating big milestones as of July 1, 2010!

50-Year Member:

Byrd Cookie Company

25-Year Members:

Independent Can Company

Long Grove Confectionary Company

Good Groceries Company

Lynch Specialty Foods, Inc.

Sohn Manufacturing, Inc.

10-Year Members:

Panola Pepper Corporation

Rose Hill Enterprises, LLC

Anthony-Thomas Candy Company

Devine Foods, Inc.

Mama Lil’s Peppers

Art Mart Corporation

Howard Imprinting Machine Company

Screamin’ Mimi’s Salsa, Inc.

Superior Quality Foods, Inc.

Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Inc.

Wald Imports, Ltd.

Arizona Pepper Products Company, Inc.

Mom ‘n Pops, Inc.

ESM Metro New York

Food For Thought, Inc.

Stone Silo Foods, Inc.

Los Chileros De Nuevo Mexico

Thomas Catanese and Company

Valley Fig Growers

Q&B Foods, Inc.

Sisters Gourmet, Inc.

Mrs. Prindable’s Handmade Confections

FAGE USA Dairy Industry, Inc.

That’s A Nice!

Ritrovo Italian Regional Foods, LLC

Tortuga Rum Cake Company, Ltd.

La Panzanella, LLC

Arturo’s Hot Flavors of Hawaii

5-Year Members:

Wholesome Sweeteners, Inc.

Aussie Crunch, LLC

Dominion & Grimm USA

Original Gourmet Food Company, Inc.

New Grass Bison Company

La Dolce Vita

Langford Foods

SaltWorks, Inc.

Casanova Wine Imports, LLC

Housewaresdirect, Inc.

Pastor Chuck Orchards, LLC

Savor California

Hint, Inc.

Oh Sugar, LLC

Wine-A-Rita, LLC

Celtic Passions

Tidewater Foods & Catering, LLC

Stella Cadente Olive Oil Company

Ariston Specialties, LLC

Rosa Mexicano Kitchen

Fresh Food Sales and Marketing

Ellie’s Country Delights, Inc.

ZT Packaging & Merchandising, Inc.


El Pinto Foods, LLC

Koeze Company

Sunshine International Foods, Inc.

Great Atlantic Trading, Inc.

Mishima Foods USA, Inc.

Kernel Season’s, LLC

Meyenberg Goat Milk Products

Mareblu Naturals

American Natural & Organic Spices

Brockmann’s Chocolate, Inc.

Creative Foods, Inc.

War Eagle Mill, Inc.

Marque Foods, Inc.

We are announcing this year’s 50-year and 25-year milestones today. http://bit.ly/domvUM

Congratulations to everyone!


2010 Summer Fancy Food Show a Success!

July 28, 2010

Exhibit Space Sells Out

The 56th Summer Fancy Food Show on June 27 – 29, 2010, was a great success. Exhibit space at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City was sold out. This year’s show drew 23,304 verified attendees from across the U.S. and around the world. Attendance exceeded last year’s strong showing, which was the highest at any Fancy Food Show in the past decade.

The event is the largest marketplace for specialty foods and beverages in North America and this year was no exception: 2,400 exhibitors filled 331,000 square feet of exhibit space. More than 80 countries presented their latest specialties, best-in-class foods and beverages, and products at the forefront of emerging trends. To view a photo gallery of the show click here.

“We are extremely pleased with our great results. There’s no question that our show is the place to be for the top buyers and suppliers of specialty food,” said Ann Daw, president of the NASFT. “Next summer’s show in Washington, DC, is already drawing strong sales. Our industry is clearly moving forward.”

Check out the buzz

The social media sites for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc., the show’s owner, are still busy with show news and reviews. Share your show experiences and learn what your industry colleagues are saying in our communities on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (NASFT Fancy Food Shows).

Show highlights included:

  • New Brands on the Shelf. This special pavilion presents tabletop displays with sampling
    from 37 participants in the NASFT’s Member Candidate program for newcomers
    to the industry.
  • Exhibitors from 80+ countries, and 41 international pavilions.
  • What’s New, What’s Hot! Showcases. This popular display featured hundreds of products representing the latest trends in natural and organics, gifts, and more, and opens two hours before the exhibit halls.
  • Social Media 101. The NASFT had 45 one-on-one consultations in the Exhibitor
    Lounge to help exhibitors brush up on the latest communications tools.
  • 253 first-time exhibitors.

In the Spotlight

The 56th Summer Fancy Food Show was a major media magnet. The show—and scores of exhibitor products–was featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS News and Martha Stewart Radio. There was also coverage in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Epicurious, and Condé Nast’s food site. More than 1,000 journalists attended the show from the U.S. and abroad. See coverage here.

Buyer Mix

The show draws top buyers from all major food channels. This year saw a significant jump in attendance from the foodservice sector, up an impressive 25 percent over last year. There was also a 13.5 percent increase in the number of buyers from natural and organic, specialty food retailers, supermarkets and mass merchants. Buying organizations in attendance at the show have a combined purchasing power in the billions of dollars.

Big Names

The show was a who’s who of top specialty food purveyors. Some of the most important names in retailing were there, including Whole Foods, Costco, Sysco, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Harry & David, Alaska Air, Pinkberry, Raley’s, Restaurant Associates, Barnes & Noble, Zingerman’s, The Fresh Market, and hundreds of top regional and local retailers, distributors, and importers.

Matchmaking Program Takes Off

The NASFT arranged 2,000 one-on-one sessions between buyers and suppliers, up from 1,343 in 2009, including 111 private sessions. These meetings were set up by NASFT staff in the months before the show. Cracker Barrel, Whole Foods, Crate & Barrel, and Kings Super Market were among the 227 retail, foodservice and distribution companies that took part in the program. The sessions got great reviews.

“The interview sessions were perfectly orchestrated – right buyer, right product and we are starting to rollout with [new] stores next month. Thank you NASFT.”
– Jeremy Isenberg, President, Chex Finer Foods.

Big Draw from Around the World

Buyers from more than 95 countries flocked to New York for the show this year. The three-day event provides a great way to source the best foods and beverages the U.S. has to offer, plus great products from the more than 80 countries that showcased their wares. Attendees were from:


sofi™ Awards Break Records

The 38th sofi Awards were a special highlight of the show. This year was the most competitive sofi contest ever. Members submitted 2,258 of their outstanding specialty foods and beverages across all 33 categories, up from the prior high of 2,091 in 2008. All 140 Silver Finalists were featured in a special showcase at the show. Gold Winners were selected by attendees at the show, who sampled and evaluated the finalists in a special judging room monitored by an outside accounting firm.

And the Winner Is….

The sofi Gold Winners were announced at a red-carpet ceremony at the show by Executive Chef Dan Barber, who is a leader in the artisanal food movement and well known for his restaurants, Blue Hill in New York City, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. The NASFT was honored to make a contribution to City Harvest in honor of Barber, in lieu of a speaking fee. City Harvest is the Fancy Food Show’s longtime charity of choice. The sofi Gold Winner for Outstanding New Product of 2010 is the South African Consulate for Rozendal Hibiscus Vinegar. View all 33 Gold Winners here.

Hunger for Knowledge

Education sessions at the show were packed. Attendance was up 15 percent above last year. The best-attended seminars were “Understanding Pricing for a Beginning Manufacturer” and “Taking Your Products to the Marketplace.” There were 20+ seminars, tasting sessions and tours, including presentations by industry experts on trends research and roundtables on trends in Kosher, Halal, and Sustainability.

Other seminars included:

  • How to Become a Media Darling
  • Pricing Your Gift Baskets with Profit and Goals
  • 7 Ways to Evaluate Your Product’s Branding and Packaging to Respond to Changing Markets
  • Tasting Terroir: The Skinny on Bean to Bar Origin Chocolate

Giving Back

For the 21st year, Fancy Food Show exhibitors made a major donation to City Harvest, a leading anti-hunger organization in New York City. Exhibitors donated 100,000 pounds of chocolate, cheese, olive oil, snacks and much more, enough to fill eight tractor trailers. The food was collected by 250 volunteers right after the exhibit halls closed, and deployed to 200 community food pantries and soup kitchens. One recipient, the Community Food Pantry of Highbridge, Bronx, N.Y., received 2,962 pounds of food. “As an agency that serves a mostly immigrant population, we were grateful to receive high quality food that is also culturally familiar to our clients. It was a real treat for them.” — Nurah Amat’ullah, Community Food Pantry of Highbridge.

Specialty Food Media: The Top Source for Industry News You Can Use

The NASFT’s media platforms were front and center at the show, including:

  • Specialty Food Media: The NASFT’s information source for the trade and the key
    vehicle to reach buying professionals across call channels. Providing total market
    access by connecting buyers and sellers year-round through a variety of food and
    beverage focused channels: Specialty Food Magazine, http://www.specialtyfood.com
    and Specialty Food News.
  • Foodspring.com: Connecting consumers to specialty foods. Foodspring.com offers the adventuresome food consumer an insider’s look at specialty foods and the people who make them.
  • Foodspring Network: Linking the world’s best specialty food sites. The Foodspring Network links NASFT member websites and foodspring.com
    to help them reach more consumers, simplify their marketing and save
    time and money while offering a professional online presence.

Office move… sofi Awards competition… Summer Fancy Food Show…and what you say? A new specialtyfood.com? Wow!

April 7, 2010

By Vivian Friess,  Marketing Manager
Yep, that was my reaction when I first joined NASFT four months ago and learned about some of the big projects the association was undertaking in 2010. Now that we have relocated to 136 Madison Ave, started the preparation for the judging of this year’s sofi Awards, kicked off the marketing of the Summer Fancy Food Show, it’s time for the debut of the new specialtyfood.com.

And I have to say, the new site has a great design and you’ll find it so much easier to navigate through the various services that we provide you. From getting the latest industry updates in the News & Trends section to finding and connecting with fellow members in the NASFT Community, the information you’re looking for is just a click away.

But what’s more impressive is that now all information related to the Summer (or Winter) Fancy Food Show is organized under one “roof” and you can get to it from the home page easily. If you have time, browse through this section of the site and get familiar with it. But if you’re in a hurry, take a look at the list below for a quick start.

If you’re looking for products and companies, a Fancy Food Show exhibitor or creating a Show Planner

If you’re looking to register to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show as an attendee, exhibitor or member of the press:

  • Go to the Fancy Food Show section, choose Summer Fancy Food Show then click on Badge Registration on the left side navigation. Or simply click here.

If you’re looking to sign up for education programs at the upcoming Summer Show:

  • Go to the Fancy Food Show section, choose Summer Fancy Food Show then click on Education on the left side navigation. Or simply click here.

If you’re exhibiting at the upcoming Summer Show and want to access Exhibitor Services:

Well, I hope you like our new Specialtyfood.com and happy browsing!

It’s sofi Time!

March 30, 2010

By Louise Kramer, Communications Director

Attention NASFT members! You can now participate in a live Q&A session with Louise via Twitter.  Tune in this Thursday at 1:00pm EST. Have questions about Twitter? Contact Vivian Friess at vfriess@nasft.org

It’s sofi time! The NASFT  38th sofi Awards contest starts this week. A sofi is the highest honor in the specialty food industry, and it is my honor to be running the contest for the third time. The deadline for submissions is Thursday, April 8, for Part 1. Click here for info on the contest, more dates and details.

For the next 13 weeks, it will be sofi 24/7 at our new offices in midtown Manhattan. We expect NASFT members to submit a whopping 2,000 entries for the 33 different sofi Awards. Our team of chefs and great sofi crew will prepare them all for our national panel of judges. The judges will select about 110 Silver Finalists across the 33 awards categories.

Chef Ming Tsai with the winners of Outstanding New Product 2009, from last year's sofi Awards ceremony.

This process will culminate in the gala red-carpet sofi Awards ceremony at the Summer Fancy Food Show on June 28. We have a great host and presenter this year: Dan Barber, a leading figure in the artisan and local food movement, not to mention a highly-regarded executive chef and restaurateur (and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2009).

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!  We get lots of questions from NASFT members about the sofi entry forms, how the contest works, etc. After all, a sofi award means your product is the best of the best, and that of course means more sales, more prestige, and confirmation that you were not crazy to pursue your dream of making and selling dark chocolate, goat cheese, or spice rubs…or jams, snack chips, sausage and more.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, plus a few tips:

How many samples should I send?

  • Send enough for 10 small tasting samples. Do not send us a case of product. We don’t need it.

I’m having trouble filling out the fact sheet online. It’s driving me nuts!

  • I know, I know! We made a mistake when we created the interactive form and have corrected it. All forms are available via www.specialtyfood.com/sofi.

Where should I send the entry?

  • NASFT/sofi Awards, 136 Madison Ave., 12th floor, New York, NY 10016.

How does the judging work?

  • The submissions are judged category by category. For each award, all submissions are prepared and set out for the judges to taste and evaluate. Each is set out on a tray containing samples for the 10 judges. The product package and the fact sheet are placed next to the product samples so the judges can taste the item and look at the package, and the information you provide on the fact sheet. The judges sample and evaluate each item. After they’ve sampled everything, they enter their votes on a ballot sheet prepared for each category by Marilyn O’Hara, our incredibly efficient sofi project manager, and her data management assistant. The votes are tabulated by Ron Tanner, NASFT’s VP of Communications & Education to determine the Silver Finalists in each category. (Ron is my boss).

What forms do I need to fill out?

  • You need to fill out one registration form listing each entry. You may enter a maximum of five products in the first part of the competition. You must also fill out a separate fact sheet for each entry. We need two copies of each fact sheet; three if the product is perishable.
    : The sofi awards require lots of logistics and running around behind the scenes. The forms help us keep track.

Do judges taste the entries for the Pet Product award?

  • Not usually! But two years ago a judge from a major national retailer ate a dog biscuit. I was impressed.

I am totally confused about Part 1 and Part 2. What gives?

  • We divide the sofi judging into two parts to handle the huge # of products flowing into our offices, and to help our judges manage their schedules. They donate five full days of their time to the judging, and we try to make it easier on them by splitting the work into two parts. The first part has 31 of the 33 Awards categories for them to judge.The second part has only two Awards categories, but they are by far the largest, Outstanding New Product (we had 414 entries last year for that one award) and Outstanding Product Line (we had 172 entries for that award last year).

If I enter my fab chutney in Part 1 for Outstanding Condiment, can I enter it for Outstanding New Product in Part 2?

  • Nope. There is no “double dipping.” You may enter each product only one time in the contest. The judges do not want to taste and evaluate the same product twice.

How does the product line award work?

  • Product Line is the only one of the 33 Awards where we permit members to submit products they have already submitted to the other Awards categories. That is because the judges are evaluating the entire line, not an individual product. To qualify, your line must have at least six different products under the same brand name. To enter, you must submit three, and only three, products in your line that will give a good sense of the entire line. Those three may be products you’ve already entered, or totally different products. Again, the idea is to present your line. You also need to send a sell sheet or other piece of marketing material to show that your line has at least six items. So that means if you have only three products in your line, you are not eligible for this award.

Why can’t I send all the products in my line?

  • We can’t handle the number of products if everyone submitted their entire line. That’s why we ask for three examples only.

I need to talk to a NASFT representative.

  • Send us an email at sofiawards@nasft.org saying you need to talk. We check it constantly and will get back to you as soon as possible. Or, call the sofi hotline at 212-482-6440 x 305 and leave a message. We’ll get back to you just as soon as we can.

What more can you tell me?

  • Good luck! NASFT members have such outstanding products, and we want to encourage you all to go for the gold.

NASFT Members! Who is your favorite retailer?

March 3, 2010

Since 2001, the NASFT, in association with Specialty Food Magazine, has celebrated and highlighted the annual Outstanding Retailers Awards. Honorably nominated and selected by NASFT members only, the Outstanding Retailer Award puts a stamp of quality on your functionality as a purveyor of outstanding service and value to local customers who care about high-quality, specialty food products.

How does the winner get chosen?
Out of hundreds of nominations, only five of the most Outstanding Retailers from around the nation will be chosen to represent and reign as one of the leading purveyors of specialty food and interest among NASFT member companies. Making the front page of Specialty Food Magazine’s June issue, each winner will be pictured and featured in the edition with a history, development and success of their retail endeavors throughout the years.

What does it take to win?
Great sourcing, premium services and true culinary passion can deliver to an Outstanding Retailer. Expressing true taste and belief in the products you sell gives other vendors a willingness to come back and do business. To read about former Outstanding Retailer winners, click here.

When are nominations due?
Nominations can only be submitted by NASFT Members and are due by March 10, 2010. Click Here for a Nomination Form.

This Just In!

January 13, 2010

Attention Show attendees! If you haven’t played the Food Trend Game yet, now it’s the time! Why? Because the ante has been upped!

Not only will the winner of the Trend Game be named the “Trendiest Person at the Winter Fancy Food Show”, he or she will also win a trip to the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York in June! The prize includes:

• One round trip airline ticket to New York

• Two nights hotel accommodations during the Summer Show

• Free registration to the Show!

Play now and stop by the Social Media Lounge to vote. And watch out – the winner will be announced on Monday, January 18.
Good luck! …and see you in San Francisco!

Roll out the red carpet for our new sofi video!

July 27, 2009

This year we gave our annual sofi Awards the star treatment they truly deserve. They’ve always been a highlight of the Summer Fancy Food Show, but we felt they deserved much more considering how important a sofi Award is for our members. So we staged our most glamorous Awards Ceremony ever. And we decided to capture the entire sofi process on video so we could try to capture the essence of the sofi Awards, the highest honor in the specialty food trade. sofi stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.

The NASFT is typically very “hands on.” But this time we wanted to do it right. So we left our personal cameras to our family vacations, and brought in professional videographers, David Horvilleur and Patrick Sasso of Loop Seven in NYC.  Both are true “foodies” and they said this was a dream assignment. We engaged them right before the first phase of judging last spring at our offices on Wall Street. (sofi awards are open to members of the NASFT). The finalists are picked by a nine-member panel of specialty food experts who meet at our offices to evaluate all the submissions. Then to pick the gold winners, the finalists are judged by retailers and foodservice buyers at the Summer Fancy Food Show.

During the initial judging David and Patrick arrived ready to shoot. They interviewed several of the judges, who were great about taking a break from their huge task of tasting and evaulating close to 2,000 specialty foods and beverages. Our final video features these interviews, including with Julie Wyrick of Pier 1 Imports and Tim Calderone from Meijer in Minneapolis. Once the finalists were selected, the video team visited a few including Rick’s Picks, Sarabeth’s Kitchen and Gustiamo.

Then the big event was the Summer Fancy Food Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center last month. Loop Seven arrived ready to roll. They set up an interview room off of the huge show floor and interviewed 100+ exhibitors and shot 15 + hours of footage. They had two crews blanket the 316,000 square feet of exhibit space that was filled with was filled with 140,000 specialty foods and beverages from across the U.S. and 70-plus countries.

They captured everything from the final sofi judging (more than 260 retailers sampled 125 finalists across all 33 awards categories) to the dazzling red-carpet awards ceremony hosted by noted Boston chef Ming Tsai. Chef Tsai delivered an inspiring and in-the-know keynote address about taste and innovation. Then he announced the winner in each category, alongside NASFT president Ann Daw and Vice President Ron Tanner. The video crew was there to capture the excitement. The next morning, the last day of the 55th Summer Fancy Food Show, Loop Seven raced through the show to capture many of the gold winners at their booths, who were still dazzled by their gold wins.

Then Loop Seven got to work again. The team spent four full days reviewing the footage, and another five in the editing suite. The fruits of their labor is our first ever sofi Awards video. We hope you enjoy it. Please let us know what you think.

–Betsy Schwartz (bschwartz@nasft.org), NASFT Creative Director