Are you looking for the next breakthrough or disruptive food? Then there is a good chance you will be at the Summer Fancy Food Show this weekend.

It’s that time of year. Before the specialty food industry gets to enjoy BBQ and fireworks, we crowd into Javits for three days of business and discovery. It’s where you’ll find some of the world’s finest artisanal food alongside a millennial looking for the first distributor or retailer for his homemade granola based on grandma’s recipe (true FFS story for me).

The show can be overwhelming for attendees, including the buyers, operators, brokers, chefs and media walking the aisles. Hopefully you have your plan in place by now, but here are a few tips to help find those hidden gems that may make the difference for your business.

Hit the Perimeter

Ironically many of these gems are bringing back interest in the center aisles. Normally I’d tell you to make sure to find the North Hall where many of the new exhibitors are placed, but due to construction the show is confined to the two main halls and often times these emerging brands are at the ends and back of the floors.

Think Small

You’ll easily notice the large and elaborate booths, but you must dig for gems. Those 10 x 10 booths can hold the breakout products, or something that will distinguish you from competitors. Last year I came across boxes that were countertop gardens. Now I’m finding them at grocery and home stores.

Go Global

Many countries host pavilions, and they are a wealth of riches. I’ve discovered new cured meats and cheeses from Europe. Sauces from Asia. Grains from Africa. Game from Australia. There is much more to discover in these pavilions if you walk the rows and keep your head on a swivel. Just don’t bump into anyone!

Don’t Miss the Showcases

The Specialty Food Association offers platforms for new products and new companies that showcase quality, innovation, and flavor. If you are seeking trends and emerging ideas, dedicate time to these areas. They are located on three different levels of Javits outside of the halls, so you don’t even need a show badge to access them. The sofi Awards Showcases will show you hundreds of new products across categories considered for SFA’s top recognition. The What’s New, What’s Hot and New Brands on the Shelf displays offer more opportunities to stumble upon new products and brands.

The Specialty Food Association offers platforms for new products and new companies that showcase quality, innovation, and flavor. If you are seeking trends and emerging ideas, dedicate time to these areas. Click To Tweet

Ask

One of the first questions I ask people I speak with at the show or events is “what have you seen that got you excited?” It is a big show to cover it all, and something you may have walked past will not go unmissed.

There is a lot of competition to find that hot new product. Major retailers are paying more attention to this category, and large companies are investing in these future competitors. Enjoy the show, be safe, and stay cool.

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