The 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show was terrific! There were 2,600+ exhibitors covering 35+ product category and this year’s crowd was bigger than ever.
By the end of three days, I walked 4+ miles while sampling all sort of delicious meats, cheeses, beverages, snacks, condiments, olives, jerky, waters and deserts like ice cream and Tofutti. Within a short space of time I traveled the culinary world from Argentina to Japan to Tunisia and visited several U.S. States including New York and Virginia.
Besides the impressive list of exhibitors and country representatives, there were 14 scheduled learning events with outstanding speakers and vendors. Both The Hartman Group and Mintel gave insightful presentation with supporting facts about the state of the industry and key categories. In fact, Mintel provided free topline category insights via touch screen monitors on the Level Up floor.
One anecdotal insight I took away from the show is when I questioned manufacturers who their target market was, the general response was “consumers who are interested in healthy products”. As a marketer, we always identify our target consumer to include gender, age cohort, HH Dollar income, education and sometimes a psychographic descriptor. I speculate that many manufacturers don’t have the capacity to segment their consumers and just go with their intuition and broad facts. Though this strategy can initially work, as the lifecycle of their product matures and marketing dollars are identified and allocated, it’s better to have a target market for efficiency, effectiveness and measurability.
What I find most interesting is that specialty foods are becoming more mainstream. According to the Hartman Group, specialty foods represents 9% of total food dollars and continues to grow. The affordability and availability of specialty foods will help fuel growth for the industry. Many consumers are often searching for new experience albeit food or an activity and food retailers who want to grow their customer base and revenues should consider promoting specialty foods. Furthermore, and perhaps its heresy, retailers may want to relax some on the slotting fee requirements for smaller manufacturers. Not only will this give specialty manufacturers an opportunity for broader distribution, but it will demonstrates retailers commitment to help grow small businesses while bringing in new shoppers or expanding / trading up the existing shoppers food basket. Retailer may be surprised how effective this could be not only for their bottom line but from a PR perspective as well.