The not-for-profit trade association– Specialty Food has hired a new president. Phillip M. Kafarakis will be bringing 30+ years of experience to the role–specifically in strategic planning, innovative brand management, and membership development.
Prior to joining the Specialty Food Association’s executive team, Kafarakis was the Chief Innovation and Member Advancement Officer for the National Restaurant Association (NRA,) a trade organization that supports over 500,000 restaurant businesses, since May 2013. “Think of me as the business guy that helps fund the mission and work closely with our philanthropy and advocacy to make sure we aligned on primaries of the industry,” he told Foodable last year about his role.
Before that, Kafarakis was with McCormick & Company in Hunt Valley, Md for 10 years and also held executive leadership roles at Jones Diary Farm, Kraft and Cargill.
Specialty Food’s focus is to provide information about the $120.5 billion specialty food industry. The association provides statistics and data about product trends, while putting on the worldwide Fancy Food Shows, offering education programs and helping to build business opportunities for members. The association has over 3,200 members in the food and beverage industry– including distributors, manufacturers, exporters, brokers, retailers, importers and other professionals.
"We are very pleased to have Phil join our organization," said Becky Renfro Borbolla, Chair of the Specialty Food Association's Board of Directors in the press release. "His experience and insight to the industry will provide us with an excellent blend of strength in strategy, member development and engagement, sales and marketing, and innovative partnership development. Each of those qualities will be essential to our Association as we seek to serve our members and the industry in new and compelling ways."
Kafarakis will be leading the strategic direction and the day-to-day operations of the association.
"The Special Food Association is regarded as the food industry's innovation incubator, while also preserving and promoting traditional processes and tastes," said Kafarakis in a press release. "I look forward to extending the Association's member value platforms and working with authentic food creators and purveyors at a time when the American consumer's interest in food has grown to new heights. It's a great honor to join the Association, and to work with and lead these most passionate and entrepreneurial food companies as we expand our mission.”
Kafarakis joins the team following the June 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show, which was largest event ever for the association. 2,670 exhibitors and 47,000 specialty food professionals were in attendance. The association partially attributed the recent record sales of specialty food to the success of the event. Some of the trending foods identified by the organization include new twists on classics like chocolate chip hummus and pepper-packed honey, and coconut and pumpkin.