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!

B Corporations Are Gaining Popularity Globally

Businesses and consumers alike are increasingly seeking the same thing: businesses that are an active force for good. Consumers in the 25-44 age bracket are the most engaged in supporting B Corporations, and the overall rate of consumer sentiment toward B Corporations has consistently risen over the past decade, according to Foodable Labs. In the last 12 months alone, certified B Corporations have increased globally from about 2,600 to over 2,900 — suggesting that companies recognize the value of the label.

Founded in 1981, Signature Breads is one of the few B certified companies in the foodservice industry. In 2006, it became independent and employee-owned with an average employee tenure of over 14 years. Signature Breads constantly searches for new ways to improve its practices and provide opportunities for its employees. For example, the company employs “a diverse workforce of over 250 employees from over 19 countries, and hire up to 10 language translators for company-wide meetings to ensure all employees are fully aware of company news and announcements by hearing them in their native languages,” according to the B Corporation website.

Greyston Bakery and New Belgium Brewing are two other exceptional B certified companies in the foodservice industry.

As the main brownie supplier for Ben & Jerry’s, Greyston Bakery has an open hiring policy that prioritizes hiring people who have experienced homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration, and other hardships. All of its profits are directed toward the Greyston Foundation, which helps fund affordable housing and numerous support services for low-income families.

New Belgium Brewing is 100 percent employee-owned. Established in 1991, the brewery is also committed to supporting local social and environmental activists and works toward making its own practices sustainable and accountable.

Like all certified B Corporations, Signature Breads, Greyston Bakery, and New Belgium Brewing believe it has a social and environmental responsibility to do good and benefit as many people as possible.

Watch the clip above to learn more about Signature Breads and its mission to bring people together to change the world through the power of bread!

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


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Foodable Congratulates IFMA's 2019 Silver Plate Class

Presented in Chicago by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), the annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards honors some of the most successful innovators and professionals in the industry. Celebrating its 65th year, the award ceremony is in many ways considered the Academy Awards for foodservice.

Typically, only up to nine foodservice operators are selected for an award, but industry experts chose 10 special winners for this year’s Silver Plate Class:

  • Beverly Lynch, Golden Corral for Chain Full Service

  • Bill Marks, Hennepin Healthcare for Health Care

  • Don Falgoust, RLJ Lodging Trust for Hotels & Lodging

  • Lorna Donatone, Sodexo for Business & Industry/Foodservice Management

  • Peter Cancro, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems for Chain Limited Service

  • Randy Montgomery Lait, North Carolina State University for Colleges & Universities

  • Regynald G. Washington, Paradies Lagardère for Retail & Specialty

  • Rodney Taylor, Fairfax County Public Schools Elementary & Secondary Schools

  • Sam Facchini & John Arena, Metro Pizza for Independent Restaurants/Multi-Concept

Winners Rodney Taylor and Regynald Washington both shared their commitment to bettering the lives of young people through education. As Washington noted, helping people become more educated about the industry is simply “part of [his] DNA.”

Other winners like Don Falgoust, Lorna Donatone, and Bill Marks emphasized the importance of keeping the team focused on giving customers the experience they are looking for. Bill Marks in particular wanted to overcome hospital food’s stereotypical bad reputation and set a goal with his team to simply “serve good food.”

One particularly excellent Silver Plate winner is awarded with the Gold Plate. This award is determined by a panel of highly regarded foodservice experts, past winners, and national press. Watch the above video to see some interview highlights and learn more about Regynald G. Washington, who took home the gold!

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Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


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Cocktail Trends: Mindful Beverage Creations

Consumers are becoming more conscious of the products they put into their bodies, which is why companies such as Coca-Cola, La Colombe, and Mocktail Beverages are whipping up unique and mindful beverage creations.

Mocktails Beverages | Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

For anyone who is looking to live healthier lifestyle, cutting out alcohol is a great way to reduce calorie intake and feel more energized.

Recent studies indicate that about 30% of the US population does not drink alcohol. However, options for non-alcoholic beverages in restaurants can be limiting and plain. Mocktails Beverages is ahead of the game when it comes to producing premium and tasty non-alcoholic beverages.

Founder of Mocktails Beverages, Bill Gamelli, has worked with Ezra Star, a renowned mixologist, to craft high-quality mocktails, which are bottled and ready-to-drink or to be served in traditional glassware.

The products are twists on classic cocktail flavors such as Sangria, Margarita, Cosmopolitan, and Moscow Mule and are made with natural ingredients. What differentiates these beverages from non-alcoholic drinks such as soda is the quality in which they are made and the ingredients which are used.

By incorporating these specialty cocktails, restaurants will be able to provide customers with a five-star non-alcoholic beverage and a remarkable experience.

The Coco Cola Company | Artisan-Inspired Juices, Teas, Ades, and Agua Frescas

The Coco-Cola company is one major beverage company striving to put forth mindful products with quality ingredients, such as their Odwalla ades. The artisan crafted lemonades and limeades are unique in the sense that they are paired with herbs and spices to deliver a heightened experience of traditional lemonade.

These quality-crafted ades are made with natural ingredients, including cane sugar, natural flavorings, and no artificial coloring. There are seven flavors, including classic lemonade to more unique flavors such as lavender mint.

The product comes in a pre-made concentrate, which only takes moments to thaw and prepare, making it easier for restaurants to serve a consistent quality beverage to customers every time.

La Colombe | Quality-Canned Lattes

La Colombe is no stranger to quality coffee, and their Draft Latte is a testament of their coffee expertise.

Colombe's Draft Latte is created to be an all-natural ready-to-drink product. The lattes are prepared with intricacy so that customers may experience the full taste and texture of an authentic cold latte, complete with a frothy layer of silky foam.

Additionally, the product is lactose-free making it a friendly drink for a variety of consumers with different dietary needs and preferences.

Best of Show: Food Innovators at the National Restaurant Association

Last week, we hit the 2019 National Restaurant Association show, the largest restaurant show in the country, with a mission to find the latest and greatest food innovations.

With more than 1800 exhibitors on the showroom floor, it was a sensory overload. But we came across three companies, in particular, that are pushing the envelope when it comes to food product.

Tyson Foods: Jimmy Dean Stuffed Hash Browns with Sausage & Gravy & More

One of these companies is Tyson Foodservice.

The foodservice division of Tyson Foods specializes in developing solutions for schools, colleges, healthcare institutions, restaurants and more. Although Tyson is known for its chicken products, the company's portfolio is vast and isn't made up of just meat.

On the showroom floor, we met up with Chris Kline, executive chef of Tyson Foodservice to walk us through some of the company's newest food innovations like the Jimmy Dean® Stuffed Hash Browns with Sausage & Gravy.

"Some of the things we were looking at for the hashbrown is we wanted a product that was a form that folks were familiar with and at the same time, had portability or that hand-held ability that you can carry on the go," says Kline. "If you think of schools, they want that hand-held, crave-able, carry-to-class type of product and this delivers on everything they've either grown up with and once again a flavor and format, they're familiar with."

Watch the video above to learn about Tyson's other products like the Hillshire Snacking Small Plates and Nashville Hot Boneless Wings.

Ocean Hugger Foods | Plant Based Alternative to Raw Tuna, Salmon, & Eel

Plant-based products are in high demand today as more consumers switched to a veggie-centric lifestyle. With that in mind, we made sure to check out some of the many plant-based companies on the showroom floor.

Plant-based burgers are all the rage nowadays, but what about plant-based seafood? We decided to stop by the Ocean Hugger Foods Booth to learn more about the company's plant-based seafood products.

After James Corwell, certified master chef and founder of Ocean Hugger Foods visited the Tsukiji Market in Japan and saw how much tuna was being auctioned off for the use of Sushi, he decided he wanted to create solutions to better protect our ocean's food supply.

The first product the company developed was Ahimi®, a plant-based alternative to raw tuna often used to make sushi.

"It took knowing a little bit about the flavors of Japanese cuisine and tuna and tomatoes are those three things that kinda come together. Basically its the fifth taste umami or savory which is prevalent in Japanese sushi cuisine. It's also prevalent in tuna and tomatoes. So we're able to put 1, 2 & 3 together to make Ahimi," says Corwell.

Watch the video above to learn more about the seafood alternative and about the company's latest products Sakimi™, a carrot-based salmon alternative, and Unami™, an eggplant-based eel alternative, soon to be available.

Fora Foods | Dairy Free Butter Made From Aquafaba

To round out our food innovation tour at the National Restaurant Association Show, we visited another plant-based company Fora Foods on the showroom floor to chat with both the co-founders Aidan Altman and Andrew McClure to learn why they felt the need to introduce a butter replacement.

"Andrew and I are from the midwest and we grow up eating butter and as we got older and we got into the food system, we realized that a lot of dairy product and meat product come from these industrial farms that are unsustainable and put an environmental strain on the planet. However, in the butter space specifically, the only alternative we could get in the grocery store were the margarines of the world. Products that have been around for decades that we didn't want to put in our bodies," says Altman. "So we saw a huge opportunity to make a plant-based butter that actually works with the functional integrity of a dairy butter that was also clean and sustainable."

The butter is gluten-free and non-GMO, as well. Watch the video above to learn more about the dairy butter alternative.