Industry News | July 12, 2011 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Inside the Members-Only Fancy Food Show

At the second day of the Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., today, foodies and suppliers packed the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to taste, sip and test the newest specialty products from around the country.

“It’s been really busy for us,” Whitney Leipzip, regional marketing manager for Popchips said. “We’ve been popular because snacking is really big right now and we’re coming at it from a healthy direction.”

Popchips are a new take on traditional potato chips. At just 100 calories per individual-size bag, Popchips are not fried and are “never baked.”

Steve Jeddry, area sales manger of the company, says the brand’s newest jalapeno flavor has been the biggest hit at the show. “People want spicy,” he said.

Popchips are available at retailers like recently-signed CVS and Safeway as well as Whole Foods and quick serves like Jamba Juice.

Many of the more than 24,000 attendees found refuge from the show’s two levels of exhibition space at the Brewer’s Association booth, where samples were flowing freely.

Nathan Canavera, of Kentucky Ale, said the booth had been busy throughout the three-day event, with specific influxes of traffic in the afternoon.

“People seem to have created their own happy hour after going around and tasting all these cheeses and chocolates,” he says.

The biggest brands were the most popular varieties of beer. Companies like Dogfish Head were favored by attendees, who were given samples of several beers including Canavera’s. “We can’t ship it back to Kentucky,” he said as he filled the next glass in line.

Entire countries were also exhibiting, including India, the United Kingdom, and Italy. All had products ranging from packaged foods to beverages to individual ingredients on display, showcasing the culinary power of each nation.

Celebrities attending the event included Patti LaBelle, pushing barbecue sauce; Caroline Manzo, repping black spring water; Rick Bayless, hosting cooking demos; Cat Cora; and Duff Goldman, of Charm City Cakes.

The Fancy Food Show is hosted by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. It is North America’s largest specialty food & beverage event with 180,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, and spices. There were more than 2,000 exhibitors .

By Blair Chancey