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Fancy Food Show impressions

samtheman | Jan 23, 200211:47 AM

This was my first Fancy Food Show visit so my impressions might be obvious, or naive...

For the chowhound, is the Fancy Food Show heaven or hell? Or a little of both...

At first I was delighted. So much food to try! And a lot of it was wonderful indeed. It was also cool to meet people like John Scharfenberger, all the local cheese makers, tea importers with great stories, etc.

But I was always surrounded by suits jabbering about "product, product, product!". Food quality took second fiddle to merchandising and packaging. Many of the press-kits for new food products overlooked any mention of taste, instead going straight to marketing -- I tried some Turbo-Juice thing and the guy kept telling me how it was made for adventurous males age 18-35. Another booth specialized in marketing "ethnic foods" to "ethnic consumers". One display showed how to market to Latino consumers during catholic holidays, by having sales on tortilla chips and florescent yellow cheese products.

It was also interesting to note how some exhibitors were excited to see my press badge; others ignored me completely, looking for buyers only. In general, the local food companies were far more helpful and willing to chat. Everyone's badge had a bar-code on it, and exhibitors would scan you in and promise to send you stuff. (I spent a lot of time chatting with chocolate vendors hoping to get scanned and get samples in the mail!).

The most interesting "new product" I tried has to be the vegan caviar. There were two different companies, one based in England (seaweed-based, only OK) and a Turkish one (soy and seaweed-based, quite convincing but a little salty. I'd buy it.).

I like food products, I like buying packaged foods at the store. But you'd think this was all people ever ate, visiting this show. By the end, I wanted to run to the nearest farmers market and hug a bunch of dirty carrots.

Anyone else have another angle?

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