What A Treat: Thoughts On The 2009 San Francisco Fancy Food Show

Posted on Saturday 7 February 2009

Most Heavenly Experience
Walking past the Valor booth, a rep handed Ivy, my business partner (and wife), a cup of warm sipping chocolate. She drank it as we walked down the aisle and then stated out loud, and not directly to me, more to the sky, “This is DIVINE.”

Most Intriguing Derivation of an Established Product
As far as I know, Izze was the first “soda” made from sparkling water and fruit juice (or at least, if not the first to the market, at least the first in my mind—see Rule #3 of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing). Over the last few years, there have been a number of Izze imitations—some by reputable soda brands—but they’ve been just that, imitations. At this year’s show, someone finally took this concept in a new direction. Vignette Wine Country Soda is sweetened with “the juice of California varietal wine grapes.” Flavors include Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It seemed to be well-received by the crowd surrounding the booth. The sodas themselves are non-alcoholic. But, don’t worry. The marketing materials at the booth included recipes for making alcoholic drinks. Ironic.

Best “Why Didn’t Anyone Else Think Of That” Idea
Single serve gelato cups by Ciao Bella Gelato. Makes perfect sense. Why open a whole container when you just want a little for yourself? The benefit is obvious to the consumer. From Cia Bella’s perspective, it encourages consumptions. (Of course, from the environment’s perspective, more packaging=bad.)

Best Product That Appealed To Me But May Not Appeal To Everyone
Falafel Chips. Yep. The deliciousness of falafel in chip form. I enjoyed it. But, then I love falafel.

Best Use Of Caramel And Corn
Lehi Valley’s Golden Caramel Corn Nuggets. A light sweet corn puff. My daughter, a Pirate’s Booty fan, would probably love this.

Treat That Tasted As Good As It Looked
Clairesquares. I had seen these on the company’s website before I attended the show. They looked beautiful on the site and when I had the chance to try them, they did not disappoint. Chocolate. Caramel. Shortbread. I could go for one right now. 

Food Trend NASFT Believes Is The Next Big Thing
Japanese food. I glean this from the seminar: “Japanese Foods: Get in Front of Two Upcoming Trends in U.S. Food Consumption.” I didn’t attend the seminar, but to me it either seems that Japanese food has either arrived and become established (teriyaki, sushi) or not yet arrived (you know, if you’re looking beyond teriyaki and sushi). 

Food Trend I Believe Is The Next Big Thing
Indian food. There were several new companies joining the regular attendees and it really felt like these booths were all very crowded. They could barely keep the samosas on their sampling plates. It will be interesting to see if people begin to consider some Indian foods as staples in their kitchen in the same way people always have on hand Asian ingredients such as teriyaki, soy sauce and miso.


I don’t like to point out the bad at events like these… but there were two things that demand mention (though I won’t name names)…

Worst Selling Feature
“It tastes more like real human milk.” Um. No more please.

Most Unforgivable Sales/Marketing Mistake: Not Knowing Your Target
There’s a difference between knowing whom you’re targeting and knowing your target. Here are two examples from the show:

In the first, a company had developed a product that was targeted to people suffering from a certain condition. Familiar with the condition, I began asking a number of pointed questions, but it soon became obvious that the rep could not keep up. I began to tune out his non-answers. It’s the same thing his target audience will do if he doesn’t get more up to speed on their needs.

In the second, I talked to a woman who had a functional food product. She wanted to target it to women because no one was really targeting this product-type to women. Looking at the dark package with bold black electrified lettering, I asked “How is this targeted to women?” “See,” she pointed to the neon glow of color behind the letters. “It’s pink.” 

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