Summer Fancy Food Show Highlights Plant-Based The Little Beet

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) annually hosts the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. The largest specialty food and beverage event in North America, the Summer Fancy Food Show features a growing number of restaurants and organizations focused on providing innovative menus and products.

This year, host Paul Barron interviewed a number of leaders in the industry. Becky Mulligan, a former Starbucks executive and the new CEO of The Little Beet, offered her perspective on the growing consumer demand for plant-based products.

After spending sixteen years overseeing thousands of Starbucks units, Becky Mulligan switched gears in 2018 and joined The Little Beet team.

The fast casual veggie restaurant chain just seemed like a perfect fit. “It was perfect for my lifestyle,” says Mulligan. “I was drawn to the concept immediately.”

The Little Beet recently expanded its offerings to a full service gluten-free restaurant: The Little Beet Table. According to Mulligan, the two branches work in tandem: customers continue to go to The Little Beet for a quick, healthy breakfasts and lunches, and they go to The Little Beet Table for dinner, drinks, and special occasions.

“People are becoming more educated about what they consume,” notes Mulligan. “It’s helped us to have a broader platform to talk about why it’s good to have a plant-based diet.” While she emphasizes that plant-based foods should make up the bulk of your diet, balance rather than guilt is ultimately the goal. “We want consumers to have accessible food that is good for you—and that you want to eat.”

All food at both The Little Beet and The Little Beet Table is made fresh everyday. All vegetables and ingredients are prepared from scratch, and the company avoids added sugars and non-blended oils. These prerequisites can be challenging for staff in terms of ensuring everyone is served in a timely fashion, but rewarding for the brand and customers alike.

The Little Beet currently consists of ten units, and there are four The Little Beet Table locations. Mulligan says the company hopes to double those numbers by next year. The chain is also developing a beverage platform.

Check out the video above to learn more about the future of The Little Beet and the company’s plant-based mission.

SFA Live: Making Good Food Available for Everybody

The Summer Fancy Food Show offers a chance for innovators to share new flavors and products they hope will revolutionize the food industry. Host Paul Barron welcomed a number of leaders in the industry to the live stage this year during the signature Specialty Food Association (SFA) New York City event.

Two noteworthy interviews were with Dino Borri, the vice president of Global Partnerships for Italian marketplace and restaurant Eataly, and SFA President Phil Kafarakis. Barron chatted with Borri and Kafarakis about developing key partnerships and the ever-growing consumer demand for specialty products.

Dino Borri, Eataly VP of Global Partnerships

Born in a small town in Piedmont, Italy, Dino Borri has lived and traveled worldwide promoting high quality food and the Italian lifestyle.

Borri first joined the food industry in 2000 to work for Slow Food, an organization that branded itself as an Italian response to the growing popularization of fast food. The grassroots organization swiftly went global, campaigning to protect dying or forgotten local food cultures and traditions. Eight years later, Borri brought that knowledge to Eataly and began launching new branches of the combination store and restaurant in Japan and in multiple locations throughout the continental United States.

“We’re a window for small producers,” says Borri. “I’m happy when I see one of our original products in other chains and retailers. One of our goals is to expose the producer to other retailers — we’re not jailers about that. There’s so much good food in the world, and good food should be for everybody.”

Founder Oscar Farinetti designed Eataly to have the same products used by the restaurant available for purchase in its adjacent marketplace. At present, forty stores have been established worldwide — and according to Borri, another Eataly location in Texas is in the works.

Check out the video above to learn more about Eataly’s mission and Borri’s thoughts on the growing popularity of artisanal and specialty products.

Phil Kafarakis, SFA President

Phil Kafarakis handles the day-to-day operations of the SFA, overseeing the management of more than 3,400 member companies within the $120 billion specialty food industry. The Summer Fancy Food Show is the largest specialty food show in North America, with over 200,000 specialty foods featured. Hundreds of food companies were in attendance this year from states including New York, California, New Jersey, and Florida, and over fifty countries were represented. Germany was this year’s partner country.

“Our mission is to bring the community together to learn, network, and connect,” says Kafarakis. “When you leave here, we want you to feel like you did some business. There’s an outcome — not just information.”

Looking ahead, Kafarakis shares that the organization has seen “explosive growth” in the beverage industry. “Beverage is going to be a bigger part of what we do.” Specialty foods as a whole represent the fastest growing segment in the food business, growing at a rate nine times faster than traditional foods. In addition to expanding its membership policy, Kafarakis shares that the organization is eyeing international possibilities.

“You can’t do everything all at once,” he notes. “But the infrastructure has been built. We’re going to take some steps to see how the brand fits into the interests of our members.”

Check out the video above to learn more about the future of SFA and current specialty food trends!

Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine Predicts Specialty Food Products to Become the New Mainstream Market

Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine Predicts Specialty Food Products to Become the New Mainstream Market
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  • Chef Robert Irvine discusses how specialty foods are no longer on the sidelines in the food service industry.

Consumers today have higher expectations for the foodservice industry. Millennials and Gen Z specifically are looking for specialty foods that offer more options for a healthier diet.

Whether it’s creating new chef-inspired meals and products, or chefs using specialty food products in their menus, the specialty food industry is on the rise. Earning in $140.3 billion within the last year, there is a convergence between chefs and specialty food makers to meet these expectations.

At the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, Foodable’s Paul Barron sat down with Robert Irvine, celebrity chef, and owner of Robert Irvine Foods, as they discussed the role of specialty food in foodservice and the latest dining trends.

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Trending New Products to Feature in Your Restaurant From the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show

Trending New Products to Feature in Your Restaurant From the 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show
  • The 2018 Summer Fancy Food Show can help you find a new product to feature in your restaurant.

  • Foodable found new trendy products you’ll want to include in your menus.

If you’re an operator, your goal is to have an on trend restaurant with the latest products to keep you there.

The specialty food industry has been growing, earning in $140.3 billion last year alone. So how can you decide on products that will keep you trending?

Foodable has you covered. We attended the Summer Fancy Food Show, presented by the Specialty Food Association, a specialty food trade show showcasing the latest innovations in the industry.

Here is a quick look at some products you won’t want to miss out on.

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Vegan Cheese, Cocoa Beans from Colombia, and Other Picks From the Summer Fancy Food Show

Vegan Cheese, Cocoa Beans from Colombia, and Other Picks From the Summer Fancy Food Show

As an operator, you are always on the lookout for new products to keep your restaurant on trend.

Today, the specialty food industry is exploding with so many high-quality products, sales in this market have spiked by 11 percent. But with so many options, it’s difficult to choose.

That’s why attending a specialty food tradeshow like the Summer Fancy Food Show, presented by the Specialty Food Association, is a great way to do research on the latest and greatest food products.

Foodable had a front row seat at the show this year (don't miss our live Facebook coverage here) and will be highlighting many of the food companies that stood out from the rest.

Here is a quick round-up of five picks that caught our attention.

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