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    Julie Gallagher
    Learn more about the people and products in these Q&As with Specialty Food Association member companies.
    What does your company produce?
    Handcrafted chutneys designed for hot and cold meats and cheeses.
    Did you have a food background before launching your company?
    I grew up in the 70s in an international home learning to cook dishes from all over the world. It was there that I was inspired to learn and share our deeper connection to culinary culture. After raising four children, I jumped into the food industry, learning from local chefs and entrepreneurs. In 2017, Locally Seasoned was launched, teaching cooking classes and providing personal chef services.
    How did the idea for your product/company come about?
    In March 2020, every business hit a brick wall and faced some of the biggest challenges of our time. We were catering at the time and all of our bookings were cancelled indefinitely. Locally Seasoned would have to pivot to succeed. It became clear that we needed to offer products for sale in local stores, markets and online to sustain our future. We focused in on those unique pantry items we always created for our clients, like chutneys, pickles, spice mixes, vinaigrettes, and marinades.
    Why did you get involved in specialty foods?
    It can be difficult in a rural area to find like-minded foodies. In searching online for gourmet pantry products and specialty foods, I found the SFA.
    What is your favorite thing about the specialty food industry?
    The textures. The flavors. The ingredients. The stories and cultures behind each dish. The energy of the food community.
    What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a new specialty food business?
    Breathe. Give yourself some grace. The entrepreneurial journey to success looks more like a preschooler’s angry scribble than an architectural drawing.
    If you weren’t running a food business, what would you be doing?
    Puttering in the garden, foraging, hiking, and cooking for friends and neighbors. I would be listening to loud music, personal development podcasts, and audiobooks.
    What does specialty mean to you?
    Specialty foods provide the recipe to help us discover our history, stir joy into the present, and finish with hope for the future. They remind us of just how strong and resilient we can be because life is worth tasting!

    Janet DeCarlo
    Please join the Specialty Food Association’s Membership Team in welcoming the new members listed below who have joined our community in the month of July. We thank these members for their innovation and commitment to the specialty food industry and look forward to getting to know them. 
    Kirlioglu Tarimsal Urun. Gida Ins. AS
    Knipschildt Chocolatier
    The Boneless Butcher, LLC
    True Natural Taste
    Ytc Studios
    Nettle Creek Foods, Inc.
    RL Food Testing Laboratory, Inc.
    Freeze Nums
    Chakalaka Brands
    Que 42
    Acetaia Malpighi
    African Bronze Honey Company
    Catalina Snacks Inc.
    Truffle Dog Company
    Kobayashi Noodle Co., Ltd.
    Veronica's Health Crunch, LLC
    CrimsonCup Coffee & Tea
    Gutsy Inc
    El Patio CPG, LLC
    Renegade Foods
    Simply Spanish
    Hanuman Chai,LLC
    Rooted Food Sales
    Sidari Artisan Brands
    The Southern Art Company, LLC

    Denise Purcell
    In collaboration with the Food Institute, the Specialty Food Association held a live broadcast from the Summer Fancy Food Show to highlight activity during the event. Interviews included buyers, exhibitors, SFA staff, award honorees, education program speakers, SFA Trendspotter Panel members, and others.
    Veteran TV journalist Susan Choi, Food Institute’s director of digital media, served as anchor. Choi has previous experience working at ABC News and NBC News.  A team of reporters conducted live interviews from different Show locations including special pavilions.
    Here are some highlights from the interviews. You can go to the SFA Feed to watch these interviews plus the full livestreams.
    “Those fundamentals—strong margin, good team, cash for runway—were true in 2018 and are even more true now.”
    -Alison Cayne, Haven’s Kitchen, on advice for building a company during a crisis
    “I never went into it for an honor. It was really about giving back and helping a lot of young companies who didn’t know how to enter the market.”
    -Lou Foah, SFA Hall of Fame honoree, on industry service
    “Passion and a great amount of stamina—you’ll be working at your business 24 hours a day sometimes.”
    -Kathrine Gregory, SFA Leadership Award winner, on what it takes to succeed
    “Consumers don’t exist in a vacuum. They are dynamic, so it’s going to be a little but of everything. You may start the day with something healthy but you leave room for indulgence later.”
    -Melanie Bartelme, SFA Trendspotter, on the balance of health and functional food trends
    “The specialty food industry is still robust and exciting and everything it takes to be a thriving business has gotten more complex, harder, and more expensive.”
    -David Lockwood, co-principal of SFA’s State of the Specialty Food Industry research, on this year’s biggest takeaway

    Andrew Lynch
    A Recipe for Shelf Space Competition
    Mix two years of the global pandemic with constant supply chain disruptions. Then add a dash of one thriving ecommerce marketplace and a sprinkle of skyrocketing demand for consumer-packaged goods. Lastly, stir in retail buyers and compliance programs until fully combined. The result? The greatest opportunity to capture and expand retail shelf space in CPG history.
    Not only does this complicated concoction make it difficult for brands to get their product in stores on time, but it’s also costing retailers big money. Recent data from the National Bureau of Economic Research reported stockouts reached up to 20 percent last year, compared to an average rate of 8 percent pre-pandemic. That totaled to $82 billion in missed CPG sales during 2021. Sheesh.
    Brace yourself for more bad news: customer loyalty can no longer be relied upon as a fallback here. Believe it or not, 79 percent of consumers reported they have tried new brands because their preferred brand was out of stock. At Zipline, we call this involuntary sampling: a phenomenon that can be extremely detrimental to CPG brands.
    For retailers, losing both loyal customers and their dollars calls for drastic measures.
    Retailers have increased their expectations of brands’ delivery performance to combat stockouts, slamming late arrivals with fines to improve on-time and in-full delivery. Fees piling up aren’t the only problem brands face when they can’t meet expectations. One retail buyer told us, “If a supplier is out of product, it will be replaced with a competing brand.” 
    For more takeaways revealed by our buyer survey for which Zipline Logistics worked with 900+ retail buyers, read on. 

    2022 Retail Buyer Insights
    To better understand why certain products get on shelves over others and how CPG brands can stand out in the competitive market, we asked the people who make that decision daily: retail buyers. Our connections belong to some of the biggest retailers and distributors in the game: UNFI, Costco, KeHe, Giant Eagle, and Target, to name a few.
    Importance of Communication and Meeting On-Time Delivery
    Communication and reliable fulfillment: without these two things, most buyers are saying “see ya.” In fact, 90 percent say a supplier’s ability to deliver product on time impacts their purchasing behavior of that brand and 66 percent have ended relationships with suppliers over delivery issues.
    Delays are inevitable in logistics, but how you communicate and work through them is make or break. Retailers want to work with the brands who give them the most visibility and transparency.  Ninety three percent of buyers report having anywhere from 4 to 20 product choices within a given category – so there’s nothing keeping them from booting a brand that doesn’t offer this.
    Impact of COVID-19
    We asked our buyer network about any changes in their category out-of-stock rates, which already account for stocking alternative brands to fill empty shelf space. Seventy-six percent of buyers reported that out-of-stocks in their category increased because of the pandemic. Historically, most retail buyers were seeing average out-of-stock rates below 6 percent, but more than half of our network saw this rate jump up to 11 percent or higher throughout the pandemic.
    Over half also said it impacted the number of competing brands in a category. “Out-of-stocks have pushed more variety per category which forces more competition and more congestion,” one buyer said.
    The big themes reported in this year’s survey remain consistent with what we’ve seen in years past, but the aforementioned challenges brewing in the market have only made on-time delivery and communication that much more essential to win shelf space.
    Secure Shelf Space with a Trusted Logistics Partner
    Although the market is whipping up severe competition, it smells of opportunity. That is, if you understand how optimized supply chains create value. Successful CPG brands are those that invest in logistics and find partners that can execute against strict retail compliance requirements. Zipline Logistics has all the ingredients to help your brand meet on-time delivery, stay on retail buyers’ good side, and get your product on the shelf.
    Zipline Logistics is the Official Shipping Partner of the SFA. Our uniquely qualified carrier network, world-class team of retail transportation experts, and state-of-the-art shipper intelligence tools maximize revenue and gross margin for consumer brands by eliminating out-of-stocks through optimized, on-time in-full performance.
    We tailor strategies to reduce overall transportation spend, optimize retail performance, and beat out the competition for shelf space. Ninety-seven percent of our orders end up on the shelves of retailers and distributors such as Walmart, Costco, UNFI, KeHE, and Kroger.
    Andrew Lynch is President and co-founder of Zipline Logistics, an award-winning North American 3PL that specializes exclusively in the transportation of retail consumer goods. He works alongside clients ranging from some of the largest food and beverage businesses in the world to the brightest up-and-coming CPG brands in North America. Lynch and his team leverage data intelligence and strong industry relationships to help clients uncover transportation savings, build scalable supply chain strategies, and ace retailer compliance programs. Starting his career in carrier procurement and management within a Fortune 100 logistics company, Lynch has held positions of responsibility in all areas of third party logistics. 

    Stories that resonated with SFA News Daily readers last month ran the gamut of topics, from social and political conflicts and resolutions to cybercrime. Following, in order of popularity are the five most read articles in July: 
    1. Canada Mandates New Nutrition Symbol
    To give Canadians clear and easy access to information on foods found in grocery stores, the government of Canada debuted a new front of label nutrition symbol that will help Canadians identify foods high in saturated fat, sugars, and/or sodium.
    2. Russia, Ukraine Sign Grain Export Agreement
    Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement on Friday, June 22 to begin shipments of grain that Russia has blockaded in the Black Sea, easing a global food crisis that has especially impacted countries in Africa and the Middle East, which rely heavily on the Ukrainian export.
    3. Walmart to Purchase 4,500 Electric Vehicles for Last-Mile Deliveries
    Walmart agreed to purchase 4,500 all-electric delivery vehicles from Canoo, beginning with its Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle, with the option to purchase up to 10,000 units.
    4. H-E-B, Butt Family Commit $10M to Build Elementary Campus in Uvalde
    H-E-B and the Butt family, which founded the chain, have announced a $10 million commitment to help build a new elementary campus in Uvalde, Texas following the Robb Elementary School tragedy.
    5. Cybercrime Wreaks Havoc on Restaurants
    Fake one-star Google restaurant reviews have terrorized dozens of locations across the U.S., ranging from humble shops to Michelin star venues. These reviews are often followed up by emails asking for payment to have the post taken down.

    Denise Purcell
    Each year as part of the State of the Specialty Food Industry research, we track and forecast sales performance of key categories over 10 years. As part of this work, our research team, David Lockwood and David Browne, analyzes what’s happening innovation-wise at the shelf-, brand-, and item-level through a combination of trend research online, as well as in-person experiences at Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and store visits at specialty retailers. 
    Several of the most prominent innovation trends in 2022 include: 
    Diverse-owned brands in the spotlight. Much as specialty consumers have gained affinity for local/regional brands where they shop for food and beverages, many now have an ethical/moral interest in another subset of products; women-, BIPOC-, and/or LGBTQ+- owned brands. Some retailers identify relevant brands in featured sets or with shelf signage and build promotions around key months in the year that celebrate these groups. Brands can obtain certifications, which may help to entice label-reading shoppers. It’s too early to tell if there are certain food and beverage categories where these brands compete more commonly. Instead, it’s apparent that an attentive shopper will often have a choice at the shelf. It’s also unclear if a consumer will prioritize brand ownership over other characteristics such as organic, non-GMO, etc, if given limited options.
    Convenience after COVID. As we come out of COVID, or at least have migrated into later phases of the virus, it’s apparent that consumers are tired of all the at-home meal preparation. While they honed their cooking and baking skills in 2020, and branched out and experimented in 2021, they entered 2022 fatigued and craving convenience. This takes many forms:
    Ready-to-eat (RTE), heat-and-eat, ready-to-drink (RTD) innovations have helped grow categories including Beans, grains, rice, dry (Shelf stable); Entrées (Refrigerated); Entrées, lunch, dinner (Frozen); and Tea and coffee, RTD (Refrigerated). Even as boxed mac-and-cheese slowed in 2021, Pasta (Shel stable) and Sauces,  pasta, pizza (Shelf stable) both continued to perform well into early 2022, not only due to rising food prices that make these categories stay appealing, but also simple convenience. Kitchen shortcuts in the Baking mixes, ingredients, flours category that only require water or oil, readily available with any diet or allergy in mind. At the same time, growth in mature specialty categories like Cheese and plant-based cheese came from shredded/sliced subcategories. Deli meat correspondingly did well, too. Improved home-brewed tea and coffee via Creams and creamers (Refrigerated). An ever-increasing array of flavors, functional additives (e.g., mushrooms, healthy fats, vitamins), and bases (dairy or plant-based) give consumers many options to enhance their tea/coffee. The return of indulgence. It never really went away, except perhaps when it took a back seat during the earliest phases of COVID panic buying, but consumers are increasingly enjoying sweet and savory snack categories, even as inflation drives food prices higher. A quick look at some of the best performing categories in early 2022 includes Chips, pretzels, snacks; Chocolate and other confectionery; Cookies and snack bars; and Desserts (Frozen), and we’re seeing indulgence run through many categories both in ingredient profile and marketing messaging.
    Upcycling and food waste solutions. Brands like Renewal Mill, Fabalish, and The Spare Co. are just the tip of the iceberg. They’re partnering in some cases with widely-known brands, too, which should help more consumers get exposed to this segment. Retailers including Misfits Market focus their entire business model on food waste solutions, too, and “upcycled” shopping is fairly easy on a site such as HiveBrands.com.  
    You can view innovation and flavor trends in each of the 37 categories forecasted by purchasing the full State of the Specialty Food Industry report, 2022-2023 Edition. SFA members receive discounted pricing.

    The SFA’s Maker Prep webinar series is designed to educate new startups, providing them with the building blocks and knowledge base needed to do business in the specialty food industry. The topics in this series vary, covering every aspect of the industry.
    Here is a sampling of information shared at some recent webinars. You can click through to find the full recordings, which are free to SFA members.
    “Certifications open up your marketplace in many ways…and tell your consumer and your buyer why your specialty food may be even more special."—Kantha Shelke, Understanding Regulations, Certifications and Licenses
    "No one wants to spend a lot of energy and take a lot of risk setting up a new product and have it fail."—Scott Zoeller, Selling to Supermarkets
    "It’s important to evaluate how you look at various aspects of the food chain to get a maximum competitive advantage. Because at the end of it all it’s actually the advantage that sets you apart from your competitors."—Kantha Shelke, New Product Development: Optimizing the Food Value Chain to Maximize Your Competitive Edge
    "80% of consumers purchased something after having seen it recommended by an influencer. That is a huge number, and a reason why influencer marketing should be a part of your toolbox."—Rachel Kay, Igniting an Integrated Paid and Earned Online Media Program to Support Your E-Commerce Business
    "[Working with a co-packer] is truly a marriage between two companies. I think that’s an accurate description of how you can approach a partnership with co-packing: you’re not tied to it for life necessarily, but this is something that if you are going to approach it, it needs to be a strong relationship."—Ashley Sutterfield, Understand your Production Options and Choose your Path
    Maker Prep webinars can be viewed live or recordings can be downloaded any time. Here is the webinar schedule for the month. And to ask questions or continue the conversation, you can go to this forum.

    Andrew Lynch
    Coming off an extremely oscillating previous quarter, there were many predictions floating around on how Q2 of 2022 would shake out for the shipping services market. Some experts predicted a huge market downturn and trucking bankruptcies galore. Although that hasn’t necessarily been the case, the possibility still looms.
    Freight Market Update
    Graph Source: FreightWaves SONAR
    Heading into Q3, carriers without dedicated contracts are struggling to find freight. Volumes and tender rejections are trending down and rates have decreased 20-25 percent since last quarter. Some small carriers have had to close up shop temporarily because they are only breaking even on loads.
    The less-than-truckload transportation market is also softening into Q3. Volumes and capacity are seemingly balanced right now, thanks to major labor shortages finally resolving. Zipline Logistics’ LTL experts believe current rates should remain consistent, but LTL is never perfect. Shippers should anticipate and prepare for delays regardless.
    These are the ripple effects of consumer mindsets shifting, combined with global events.
    For many Americans, disposable income is being redirected to travel and entertainment once more rather than home goods. Not only that, but everything under the sun is more expensive to buy than usual. In May 2022, U.S. inflation rates hit 8.6 percent – the highest since 1981. The price of diesel in the U.S. hit a record high average of $5.718/gallon as of June 13, 2022. It’s sitting at $6.887/gallon on the West Coast.
    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dealt an additional blow to the global economy—weakening post pandemic recovery and aggravating already-high inflation.
    New subvariants of COVID-19 continue to emerge. Some experts are saying these variants have the strongest transmissibility yet and are escaping immunity from past infection and the vaccine. Although major U.S. economic shutdowns seem to be a thing of the past as the virus has become our “new normal,” these variants can take out groups of people on the job at one time and create major supply chain inefficiencies.
    Retailers are dealing with insane amounts of overstock right now, as consumer mindsets shift away from purchasing consumer goods. But even in a soft freight market, retailers are still being picky with the brands they choose to work with. In a survey of retail buyers, 90 percent said a supplier’s ability to deliver on time impacts their purchasing behavior of that brand and 66 percent have ended relationships with suppliers over delivery issues. Brands who give retailers the most communication, visibility, and transparency will get priority on the shelf.
    Q3 Outlook

    Graph Source: FreightWaves SONAR
    As of July 2022, Zipline experts predict volumes and rates will continue trending down in most parts of the U.S. until October 2022 when holiday shopping begins.
    For the foreseeable future, experts also predict inflation rates and diesel prices will continue to climb. The good news is, the government is stepping in to help as of June 22, 2022. President Biden called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months to provide direct relief to American consumers. He is also calling on states to take similar action, whether by suspending their own gas taxes or helping consumers in other ways.
    Regardless of all this, produce season is in full swing. There are two separate trucking markets we will discuss below: dry van and reefer. The dry van market refers to trucks transporting dry goods, like chips or canned foods. The reefer market refers to trucks transporting goods that must be temperature controlled, like milk or meat.
    Congested dry van markets currently include Southern California, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Georgia. Congested reefer markets include the Southern border of the U.S. is super-hot as well as the majority of the Southeastern U.S.
    Rates picked up a bit at the beginning of the produce season but have otherwise consistently declined. At the end of Q1, the rate per mile was sitting around $3.30 and is now hovering around $2.82 at the end of Q2. Also important to note: contract rates are higher than spot rates in both the dry and reefer markets.
    Lean on Logistics Partners to Navigate the Freight Market
    Regardless of an always changing freight market, CPG suppliers focused on logistics partnerships rather than freight transactions will be the real winners in 2022. Believe it or not, there are still many aspects of your supply chain that you can control with industry experts on your side. 
    Zipline Logistics is the Official Shipping Partner of the SFA. Our uniquely qualified carrier network, world-class team of retail transportation experts, and state-of-the-art shipper intelligence tools maximize revenue and gross margin for consumer brands by eliminating out-of-stocks through optimized, on-time in-full performance.
    We tailor strategies to reduce overall transportation spend, optimize retail performance, and beat out the competition for shelf space. 97 percent of our orders end up on retailer’s shelves such as Walmart, Costco, UNFI, KeHE, and Kroger.
    Andrew Lynch is President and co-founder of Zipline Logistics, an award-winning North American 3PL that specializes exclusively in the transportation of retail consumer goods. He works alongside clients ranging from some of the largest food and beverage businesses in the world to the brightest up-and-coming CPG brands in North America. Lynch and his team leverage data intelligence and strong industry relationships to help clients uncover transportation savings, build scalable supply chain strategies, and ace retailer compliance programs. Starting his career in carrier procurement and management within a Fortune 100 logistics company, Lynch has held positions of responsibility in all areas of third party logistics. 

    Denise Purcell
    The SFA’s newly released State of the Specialty Food Industry + 10-Year Category Tracking & Forecasts, 2022-2023 edition, digs into the current business environment. Following are four insights and takeaways from this year’s research.
    The Supply Chain’s Impact on Growth
    The parts of the industry that will grow in the next few years in part hinge on supply chain bandwidth. Makers continue to report they are unable to properly forecast their sales because they often don’t know what their supplier shipments will look like. Lead times for shipments fluctuate, too, causing production schedule delays. All of this influences how makers formulate their products, as they evaluate which SKUs they can confidently produce, made with ingredients they can reliably source and price properly to achieve profit despite increased raw material costs. And once they have products ready for retail, they’re further challenged by shipping logistics, as the trucking industry faces its own issues with short-staffing and rapidly rising fuel costs.
    BIPOC- and Women-Owned Brands in Demand
    Consumers want more BIPOC-, Black, and women-owned brands and retailer buyers and foodservice operators are seeking out incubators, brokers, b2b wholesalers and distributors, and even sales consultancies that specialize in supporting and growing these brands. Showcasing these brands has moved far beyond seasonal features to align with observed months like Black History or Women’s History, and will continue to expand.
    The Next Retail Formats
    The pandemic gave retailers insight into store formats shoppers want next and smaller footprints with minimal human contact are in demand. Expect fast growth of these formats among traditional grocers, who are also reintroducing areas since the COVID scale back with new ideas. For example, redesigned sets like salad bars that are smaller and less labor-intensive and more grab-and-go opportunities. Ghost kitchens and mini fulfillment centers will be prevalent as well. And convenience stores are well-placed to do more ready-meals and foodservice. On the flipside, businesses that were built around high-touch, personal experiences to build loyalty and trust are struggling with the rising demand for convenience, pickup and delivery. They are fulfilling their customers' needs but wonder if it weakens their original position.
    Specialty eCommerce Targets
    In 2019, specialty ecommerce sales amounted to about 4.5 percent of all specialty retail sales. In just two years that share doubled to 9.4 percent, and it will expand further over the next several years, though not so rapidly. By 2023, specialty ecommerce will account for 11.6 percent of all specialty retail sales. For many makers or retailers that sell specialty products, these numbers can be a benchmark for their own goals with specialty ecommerce. Brick-and-mortar retailers ideally should be reporting online sales at roughly the same share percentages as noted above. Likewise, makers that sell their products in ecommerce, whether it’s DTC, or through Amazon or other online avenues in brick-and-mortar retail, should ideally be seeing an online sales share approximate 9-12 percent of their total retail sales in 2021-2023.
    Plant-Based Challenges
    The overall plant-based specialty retail market grew 6 percent, exceeding $7.7 billion in 2021, after stellar 26 percent growth in 2020. Plant-based growth has outpaced the entire specialty retail market, which grew 4 percent in 2021 and 20 percent in 2020.  However, some plant-based categories were among 12 total that grew specialty sales slower than the entire market in 2021. These include Yogurt and plant-based yogurt; Tofu; Creams and creamers (Shelf stable); Plant-based milk (Refrigerated); and Plant-based milk (Shelf stable).  A given category’s degree of maturity, innovation opportunities and in some cases, vulnerability to other emerging category adjacencies may cannibalize sales in specialty. The largest growth gap is with Plant-based meat alternatives (Refrigerated). It grew 34 percent in specialty but 66 percent in the total market. Historically, this category has been composed of 97 percent specialty items, but it changed in the last three years and now non-specialty items are contributing to much of the growth.
    Specialty Beverages Grow Faster than Food
    During 2020’s initial height of COVID, specialty food grew faster (21 percent) than beverages (16 percent), but that shifted in 2021 as specialty beverages grew twice as fast as food. It comes down to consumers seeing certain products as critical, and others as discretionary. In this instance, food was more a consumer priority during the initial phases of COVID but over time, consumers expanded their shopping lists to include more specialty beverage purchases. RTD alcoholic beverages like hard seltzer, hard kombucha, and fermented functional cocktails, in particular, are growing rapidly.
    Opportunities in Perishables
    New this year, we took a closer look at specialty perishables sales, which are expected to reach nearly $33.5 billion in 2022. Perishables (random weight, non-UPC’d specialty items sold in bakery, cheese, deli, meat, and seafood sections) are critical to specialty, both in scale and as a good source of growth. For specialty retailers, perishables departments represent enticing, creative merchandising and execution. Plus, they are important centers for emerging food and beverage innovation that may eventually migrate to packaged goods categories.  
           After being challenged by shutdowns during COVID, perishables can expand to better meet consumers’ needs for hot, ready-to-eat or take-home, heat-and-eat fresh meals; meal kits; sandwiches, side dishes, and salads; breakfast foods; confections and desserts; and hot and cold beverages. But retailers must adapt post-pandemic as many consumer prefer to buy sealed, pre-packaged products (even those prepared in-store), which they perceive as fresher and/or safer. 
    The new State of the Specialty Food Industry research is available for purchase here. SFA members receive discounted pricing.

    Julie Gallagher
    Learn more about the people and products in these Q&As with Specialty Food Association member companies. 
    What does your company produce? 
     Pistachio butter. 
    Did you have a food background before launching your company? 
    No, this is my first time launching my brand and product. I am, however, a health enthusiast and am passionate about food and the food industry. 
    How did the idea for your product/company come about? 
    I founded Seed & Shell with the belief that we can all harness the seeds of potential within us and break free from our shell of self-limiting beliefs to achieve our dreams. In 2019, my mom brought me a gift of pistachios following a family health scare. Pistachios became my snack that got me through those difficult times while I was in the midst of struggling to meet the demands of both my personal and professional life. I knew I could rely on them for their nutritional benefits and also to keep me satisfied.  
    Inspired by my love for pistachios, which are (technically speaking) seeds, and not nuts, I founded Seed & Shell so others could enjoy pistachios in a fresh, new way (like with our pistachio butter). While my initial purpose was to spread awareness to the amazing health benefits of pistachios, I realized along the way that Seed & Shell represented a challenge to myself for personal growth. 
    Why did you get involved in specialty foods? 
    As a foodie and health food enthusiast, I personally am a big fan of specialty foods. They have always been an important part of my lifestyle and my dietary preferences, and I love the fact that so many specialty food brands exist to make a difference in people's lives by bringing new and exciting foods to the market. 
    What is your favorite thing about the specialty food industry? 
    The selection of high-quality and new products that specialty food brands bring to the table. 
    What is one piece of advice you’d give a new specialty food business? 
    Enjoy the journey. 
    If you weren’t running a food business, what would you be doing? 
    I couldn't even be thinking of anything as meaningful that I would be doing with my time other than running my business. I am truly passionate about my company. 
    What does specialty mean to you? 
    Specialty food means being the risk taker of the food world. 

    Julie Gallagher
    How long have you been with SFA and tell us about what you do?
    I’ve been with the SFA for 3 months. I am Bill & Lysa’s Executive Assistant.
    What is your favorite memory or experience from your time with the SFA? The Summer Fancy Food Show. It was amazing to see it for the first time, and I loved being able to engage with the members.
    Where were you born?
    Matawan, NJ
    If you could only pick 3 foods to eat for a month, what would they be?
    Pasta, Chicken & Broccoli
    What is your fondest food memory?
    Every year around the holidays all the ladies in my family get together and bake cookies, and it is one of my favorite traditions.
    Do you prefer to eat in or dine out?
    It depends on who is doing the dishes! (Which is usually me) So I’ll go with dine out!
    Best piece of advice you have been given and has served you well?
    Don’t make decisions when you’re angry
    What is the strangest thing you’ve eaten?
    Alligator Tail
    What is your favorite food city?
    Charleston, South Carolina has delicious food and some of my favorite restaurants.
    If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?
    Travel around the world, I love to explore new places.
    Where is your favorite place that you have traveled to?
    Costa Rica 

    Denise Purcell
    The specialty food market has prospered amid two difficult years. According to SFA’s newly released State of the Specialty Food Industry research, the market hit $175 billion in retail, foodservice, and ecommerce sales is 2021 and continues to grow at a faster rate than all food.
    Growth will continue but at a much slower pace than the industry experienced in the 2020 stay-at-home whirlwind of grocery shopping and at-home meal preparation. The market faces well-known challenges due to inflation’s role in pushing food prices, supply chain difficulties, fuel cost increases, packaging shortages, and shipping issues. Growth over the next few years depends heavily on shifts in these challenges and supply chain bandwidth.
    In the Summer issue of Specialty Food magazine, you can discover the highlights from this year’s research, such as sales and forecasts in key segments, fastest-growing categories and subcategories, and COVID’s impact on category sales. In addition to a deeper dive into all this data, the full 112-page research— available for purchase in the specialtyfood.com Learning Center—also details key trends driving opportunities and decision-making in the market. Here is a preview of some:
    Home cooking and baking slows as COVID subsides. As COVID took hold in 2020, consumers returned to kitchens in full force. Up until then, consumer food spending had been pretty evenly split between groceries versus at restaurants, but tilted heavily back on groceries almost overnight, with specialty benefitting from the shift. Fast-forward through 2021 and dollar sales growth in various cooking/baking categories has taken a turn, giving back much of the 2020 COVID gains. But unit sales through April 2022 are strengthening, suggesting that home cooking/ baking will remain a long-term trend but not nearly as strong as the pandemic-influenced phenomenon.
    Collaboration carries the industry forward. Supply chain challenges necessitated long overdue SKU rationalization, not only among makers who have pared down production to essential products, but also retailers who are more cautious than ever about bringing in new products. The impetus is on makers to innovate with far more thought, R&D, and investment. Innovation centers, incubators, and culinary kitchens are ramping up efforts to help producers design, package, and create products that will make their way into specialty retail.
    BIPOC- and women-owned brands in the spotlight. Consumer desire for brands from Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)- and women-owned companies is skyrocketing. According to the State of the Industry’s companion research, Today’s Specialty Food Consumer, published in September 2021, 17 percent of specialty food consumers say they buy specialty food “to support diverse suppliers (e.g., women-, Black-, BIPOC-, LGBTQ+-, veteran-, disabled- owned companies).” Meanwhile, 22 percent of SFCs said they prefer to shop in stores that feature these types of brands/products.  
    Increasingly incubators,  distributors, and brokers are specializing in supporting diverse-owned brands. Retailer and foodservice operators are also seeking out a broader diversity of brands. Target launched its Racial Equity and Change program with plans to spend $2 billion+ with Black-owned businesses by 2025. Pop Up Grocer featured a Washington, DC spot to highlight brands that are women-owned, BIPOC- and queer-owned, and/or local. Many specialty retailers, such as PCC Natural Markets, are retooling their mission to address Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, which is translating to product assortment in stores.
    To learn more about The State of the Specialty Food Industry + 10-Year Category Tracking and Forecasts, 2022-2023 Edition,  look for upcoming information about our webinar on July 21.  

    Denise Purcell
    The SFA’s Regulatory Update webinar series is designed to educate and inform about the latest legal and regulatory updates around food production and distribution. Hosted each month by Jeni Lamb Rogers, associate general counsel of supply chain at Branded, the webinars cover such topics as Standards of Identity, food safety, labeling claims, and FDA regulations.
    Here is a sampling of information shared at some recent webinars. You can click through to find the full recordings, which are free to SFA members.
    “Although there is the common perception that they are outdated and irrelevant, the Standards of Identity still matter and can have legal consequences. They are most relevant to products or ingredients like cheeses, macaroni and noodles, fruit butters, jellies, preserves, cacao, sweeteners, salad dressings, and flavorings.—FDA Action to Modernize the Standards of Identity
    A Shared Facility Declaration won’t prevent a recall if the allergen ends up in the product, but it could be used as mitigating evidence in a lawsuit because you attempted to provide a warning. Furthermore, it’s really about deterrence.—Are You Recall Ready?
    The first step that a company should take is to create an internal health hazard evaluation, which should happen one to two hours after the discovery of an issue. Then, outside counsel should be engaged, typically within a business day.—Advanced Topics in Food Allergen and Gluten-free Labeling
    In the FTC’s eyes, an influencer’s endorsement is the same as a consumer testimonial, meaning it must comply with the same standards. The endorser of a product must have actually tried it, as well as been honest in their review of it. The influencer cannot make claims about the product that would require substantiation that the company doesn’t have, such as health or environmental benefit claims.--Influencer Marketing Compliance  
    Regulatory Update webinars can be viewed live or recordings can be downloaded any time. Here is the webinar schedule for the month. And to ask questions or continue the conversation, you can go to this forum.

    Lysa D Teal
    SFA is proud to announce a partnership with (included)! The (included) membership collective is for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) executives in CPG who are dedicated to one another’s success, who advocate for diverse representation, and who commit to amplifying BIPOC voices and brands. (included) has a membership of approximately 70 BIPOC-owned CPG companies that are actively looking for ways to expose their brands and products to top-tier buyers. 
    The Specialty Food Association is likewise committed to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community of specialty food makers, buyers, and consumers. This partnership presents an opportunity to break down the traditional barriers of entry to the specialty food trade by promoting BIPOC-owned businesses at the SFA’s Fancy Food Shows, where we attract and engage audiences in trade, and educational and networking events to help grow their business and advance the consumption of specialty food.  
    Our first collaboration together will be at the Summer 2022 Fancy Food Show. We are happy to have 10 (included) companies become members of the SFA and these 10 companies will exhibit in the (included) Pavilion (booth #935).  This partnership will introduce BIPOC-owned companies to the Fancy Food Show and the specialty food buyer community and, in turn, function as a new channel for membership growth and diversity for the SFA.   
    The Specialty Food Association looks forward to a long and fruitful relationship with (included).  Please visit the (included) booth #935 to meet our newest SFA members and sample their products. Participating companies include:  
    AYO Foods    Bon AppeSweet Inc   Good Food For Good Inc.   Green Sahara   Herbal Tea-rapy LLC   Mighty Gum  Mocktail Club  Sweet Logic   Waju Water  Wildwonder Brands Inc. 

    Denise Purcell
    In the past year, the Specialty Food Association launched its Maker Prep webinar series, an educational program to designed to help new makers get ready to do business in the industry. The ongoing series brings in subject matter experts and experienced members to cover such topics as funding, branding, bringing your product to market, working with distributors, and more. Each topic is covered in a package of two or more webinars, complete with Q&A sessions, plus extra resources.
    Here is a sampling of information shared at some recent webinars. You can click through to find the full recordings, which are free to SFA members.
    Factoring is another option for financing. That is when companies receive upfront payments against invoices to help with operating expenses until full payment is received. The key benefit to factoring is more predictable cash flow, but there are fees associated with it.—Keith Lohler, K2 Financing, Funding Your Business: Working with Lenders
    “The retailer is a shared customer between you and the distributor. Relationships with retailers can give you leverage in what’s mostly a ‘David and Golliath’ situation.”—Jack Acree, Saffron Road Foods, Working with Distributors: Strategies for Success  
    When preparing to meet with a distributor, a company should know its products and pricing, as well as that of its competitors. It’s also helpful to know case/pallet minimums, shelf life, and share any special product issues.—Ian Kelleher, Peeled Snacks founder, Working with Distributors: The First Key Steps  
    Finding space in the sea of sameness can be a challenge, but your sales team may have valuable insights to offer so you can position your brand differently in the marketplace.—Christian Klawitter, Bright Design, Building a Brand Expression  
    “Founding a brand rarely starts with, ‘hey, let’s run a supply chain,’ yet if you don’t, your brand will fail.”—Veronica Lehman, consultant and Pure Organic founder, Understanding the Supply Chain Continuum  
    Logo, flavor, product image or flavor cue, and two to three relevant callouts should be used on the front of package. The back of package should include storytelling and any other romance copy regarding flavor, key ingredients, cooking ideas, and suggested uses.—Andy Kurtts, Buttermilk Creative, Package Design and Branding  
    Maker Prep webinars can be viewed live or recordings can be downloaded any time. Here is the webinar schedule for April and May. And to ask questions or continue the conversation, you can go to this forum.

    Denise Purcell
    Whether it’s consumer trends, innovative marketing techniques, or new sales channels, the specialty food industry is always evolving and even the most successful companies need education and resources to keep up. With that in mind, SFA's In The Know webinars are designed to educate and inform established and mature companies in the specialty food community.
    This ongoing series brings in subject matter experts and peers to cover topics that are important as a company matures such as logistics and sourcing, export opportunities, and succession planning to name a few. Each webinar includes a Q&A session, and we also provide extra resources to keep you informed. 
    Following is a sampling of information shared during various In the Know webinars. You can click through to find the full recordings, which are free to SFA members.
    Start with one platform (like Instagram) and build from there. Instead of trying to hit every social media platform at once, focus on doing a few things well. Prioritize platforms where you know your target audience is spending their time. Once you are in a good rhythm on your starter platforms, gauge bandwidth to expand onto other channels based on resonance with your target.—Katie Bell, Pulp+Wire, Social Media Marketing for Startups
    “An often-cited export sales statistic is that 95 percent of potential consumers are located outside of the U.S., so it’s a natural inclination to want to consider international sales.”—Molly Burns, Food Export – Midwest, The Benefits of Export
    Keep an eye out for fake domains, account verification, spelling and grammatical errors, and unauthorized email addresses (hover your mouse over email address to see the domain) to protect yourself against email phishing.—Monica Moore and Dave Curley, All Covered, Cybersecurity Fundamentals for Your Business
    “You need to do the things that will continue to make your business sustainable either at the loss you’re incurring now or at the cash flow you’re bringing in.” –Jack Acree, Saffron Road Foods, Raising Prices in Uncertain Times
    Other opportunities exist if you’re unable to get your product on a television show or movie through the prop or set decoration departments. The costume department, as well the hair and makeup department, are often stocked with drinks and snacks for the actors and crew to enjoy behind the scenes. –Jessica Cohen, founder of The Product Agent, What to Know about Product Placement in Film and TV
    In the Know webinars can be viewed live or recordings can be downloaded any time. Here is the schedule for April and May. And to ask questions or continue the conversation, you can go to this forum.

    Denise Purcell
    The humanitarian disaster in Ukraine is the latest example of food industry support. Since Russia launched its invasion, chefs, food organizations, foodservice operators, and grocers have hosted events, mobilized resources, and pledged funds on both widescale levels for large chains and local efforts by restaurants and independents. Below you’ll find a summary of some efforts to support the impact of the devastation. 
    Chef José Andrés’ nonprofit food relief organization World Central Kitchen has volunteers in Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, and Hungary, serving over one million meals to Ukrainians as they flee the country. The organization has more than 330 distribution points in 55 cities. WCK is also working with dozens of chefs and restaurant partners in 12 cities within Ukraine to serve those who remain in the country.  Within Ukraine, Ievgen Klopotenko, winner of MasterChef Ukraine in 2015, has turned his restaurant into a bomb shelter for feeding civilians and Ukrainian fighters.  The Fresh Market is running a fundraising campaign through April 12 in which proceeds from register donations and through the sale of special bouquets made with sunflowers, Ukraine’s national flower, will be given to World Central Kitchen.  Bake for Ukraine is a worldwide bake sale launched on Feb. 26 that allows independent bakers to raise money for organizations like World Central Kitchen, International Rescue Committee, and Sunflower of Peace.  Aldi company Aldi Sud, headquartered in Essen, Germany, about 1,100 miles from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, has donated 5 million Euros for immediate and long-term humanitarian aid. Aldi UK, part of Aldi Sud, is offering jobs to Ukrainian refugees. Kroger is sending emergency food assistance to refugees through a monetary grant from The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation to the United Nations World Food Program’s Ukraine Emergency Fund. Kroger will match all gifts made by its associates and customers, up to $250,000.  Restaurants across the U.S. hosted fundraisers to donate proceeds. In Chicago, Wherewithall, operated by Johnny Clark, a Ukrainian-American chef, and Beverly Kim, launched a Ukrainian menu and donated a portion of proceeds to Razom for Ukraine, a pro-democracy nonprofit. Brooklyn’s pierogi restaurant Pierozek ran a similar event to support Ukrainian Armed Forces. In Portland, Kachka restaurant donated all proceeds from its Chervona Wine Cocktail to the Red Cross’ humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.  Southeastern Grocers, parent company of WinnDixie grocery stores, Harveys Supermarket, and Fresco y Más, donated 100 percent of proceeds from its private-label Ukrainian vodka in the month of March to the International Committee of the Red Cross.   Shoppers at Publix can add donations to register totals and all funds will go toward the Red Cross’ work to distribute food, medicine, and medical supplies to Ukrainians impacted by the war.  Grocery distributor and retailer SpartanNash enlisted its military division to send supplies like baby formula, energy drinks, and over-the-counter medications to Poland. The company has pledged $1 million to support the humanitarian disaster.  This is just a small sample of activities going on throughout the food world. If you know of more that should be highlighted, want to share what you are doing in your own businesses and communities, or have an idea about how to help, please join our conversation here on the specialtyfood.com Community Hub.

    Julie Gallagher
    How long have you been with SFA and tell us about what you do? 
    I've been with the SFA since April 2019. Initially, I was hired on as a temporary Project Manager on the sofi™ Awards. As of March 2020, I took on the role of Social Media Manager and officially became an SFA employee in September 2020. 
    What is your favorite memory or experience from your time with the SFA? 
    My first time working at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show would have to be one of my favorite memories. I was in awe of the convention, the food, the people and the energy! SFA is a community full of interested, passionate, and innovative specialty food lovers! Meeting the sofi Awards winners, specifically, was a highlight for me as I had been working closely with them leading up to the Meet & Greet. 
    Where were you born? 
    Trenton, NJ 
    Do you prefer to eat in or go out? 
    If my mom or nonnina is cooking, I prefer in. Otherwise, I love me a good meal out. 
    What is your fondest food memory?  
    I feel fortunate to have had a variety of fond food memories. One that sticks out to me the most was on Christmas Eve in a small mountain town in Calabria, Italy. I stayed with family-friends to celebrate the holiday. We started the seven fishes at 8 pm and continued on past midnight. Food was on rotation for 4+ hours, and, of course, it was incredible. 
    What is your favorite food city? 
    Every city has its magic, however, Italy as a whole rarely disappoints. 
    What is the strangest thing you’ve eaten? 
    I was given a sugar cane stalk to gnaw on in Haiti. I didn't really care for the texture. It was a unique and interesting experience. 
    Best piece of advice you have been given and has served you well? 
    You become what you surround yourself with. 

    Denise Purcell
    The Specialty Food Association recently launched a podcast as part of Heritage Radio Network’s programming. Hosted by SFA’s content and education team, Spill & Dish: A Specialty Food Association Podcast tells the stories of SFA members, the entrepreneurs, makers, and buyers behind the foods and beverages in the specialty food market. Listeners can discover the inspiration, recipe, craft, culture, ingredients, and production methods that make specialty food special and get a deeper understanding of the people and motivation behind the products.
    Here is a sample of some conversations taking place in Spill & Dish episodes:
    “What we wouldn’t do again is think that we can belong anywhere. You want to be sure you grow sustainably and organically. Buyers are enticing. A big buyer comes in and says, we love your product, we want you to be in 3,000 stores. And you think, great opportunity!  But maybe you don’t belong in those 3,000 stores. Test first in maybe 300 stores.” 
    —Michael Antonorsi, Chuao Chocolatier, on what he would do differently when building his brand
    “All women. It’s never lost on me that it was a group of women who were saying, yes, join our community, we will mentor you and teach you and you’ll learn from our wins and mistakes, and we’ll welcome you into the fray.”
    —Jill Giacomini Basch, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., on cheesemakers welcoming newcomers to the early specialty cheese movement in California’s North Bay
    “There are a significant—not huge—but significant number of buyers who don’t care about the romance of a family business and heritage and that these are our personal recipes. You’d occasionally be interrupted by someone barking, ‘Can you or can you not give us six free jars per item per store?’ and didn’t want to hear about my grandmother.”
    —Doug Renfro, Renfro Foods, on the biggest surprise he encountered in the specialty food business
    “We came here not knowing a word of English and had to start from scratch and didn’t have anything at all, but I loved the opportunity we got from support of the government and the people in this country, and I wanted to try my best. I had a dream to give back to the community.”
    —Channy Laux, Angkor Cambodian Food, on fleeing the Cambodian genocide as a child and eventually starting a specialty food career
    “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one expects you to know all the answers. No one thinks less of you for not knowing. It’s worse if you pretend you do know and barge into something and make a huge mistake with it.
    —Laura Sorkin, Runamok, on advice she’d give new specialty food companies
    Listen to episodes here or follow wherever you get your podcasts.

    Denise Purcell
    At the recent Winter Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas, the SFA offered a roster of in-person education sessions to help specialty food companies navigate industry topics like supply chain challenges, ecommerce, and effective branding.
    In addition to a slate of sessions offered under its Maker Pass, SFA also hosted The Basics: The Business of Specialty Food, its longstanding day-long workshop to help prepare new companies for doing business. 
    Here is a sampling of information shared during the Winter Show education program with information on how to purchase the sessions.
    “Sales and marketing are out in front. This is the stuff that’s under the hood. But now, it is front and center.”—Bob Burke, Natural Product Consulting, Solving the Supply Chain Crisis
    Do three things everyday: listen and translate, build content, build community. Doing these over and over builds commerce.—Jomaree Pinkard, Hella Cocktail Co., Building a Brand, The Basics: The Business of Specialty Food 
    In-store tasting events are a great way to include chocolate even if it’s not the focus. Offer it as a sweet note at the end and you’ll find most carts will include it after the event.—Matt Caputo, Captuto’s Fine Market, Fine Chocolate Trends and Marketing Strategies for Specialty Food Retailers
    “If your team understands the destination and is equipped with trust to have creativity and act in the moment, you break down barriers and all members are doing their part in the moment to help the team succeed.—Jeff Grogg, JPG Resources, Innovation in the Face of Uncertainty
    “At the end of the day, Amazon customers are not your customers, they are Jeff Bezos’ customers. So should you drive a portion of your business toward Amazon and is Amazon ever profitable for your own business?”—Lou Nicolaides, Ludwig Marketing & Sales, Launch and Increase Your Online Sales
    To learn more, or if you couldn’t make it to the Show in person, you can go here to purchase the packages of sessions for The Basics and for Maker Space. SFA members receive discounted pricing.

    Julie Gallagher
    I’ve been with SFA for almost two months now. I’m working to build a program which will grow buyer membership and encourage buyers to become more involved and active with SFA. 
    What is your favorite memory, experience, or story from your time with the SFA?
    Going to my first food show is still one of my most favorite memories.  I was in awe seeing the vast array of specialty foods and confections from all around the world in one location.  Having the opportunity to meet and talk with people who were just as appreciative and passionate about food was inspiring.
     Where were you born?
     I was born in Louisville, KY
     What is your fondest food memory?
    Attending the White Truffle Festival in Alba, Italy.  We spent 10 days partaking in some of the most luxurious dining experiences I’ve had to this day.  Each dish was truly a work of culinary art.
    Do you prefer to eat in or go out?
     Ooh…that is a tough one.  I love to cook, but I do love a fantastic restaurant experience.  I draw inspiration from both.
     What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given that serves you well?
     Nothing good happens after midnight!
     What is one of the strangest things you’ve ever eaten?
     Horse meat is the strangest thing I’ve eaten.  I was not a fan.
     What is your favorite food city?
     This is another challenging question for me.  I’ve been fortunate to have dined in a lot of fantastic cities.  I can’t narrow it down to just one, so I picked my four favorite cities/towns for dining. New York City, Prague, Sorrento, and Grand Case in St. Martin.  I selected these places not just for the fantastic restaurants available to choose from, but also for the memories these places evoke for my family and me.

    Russell Kolody
    Welcome to the 2022 sofi Awards, the 50th Anniversary honoring creativity and great taste in the specialty food industry!
    Some important dates to remember:
    ·       Online entries ($105 per entry) for the 2022 Awards will remain open until March 31.
    ·       Product entries will be accepted at Rutgers Food Innovation Center from until April 8.
    ·       Judging for the 2022 sofi Awards will begin on April 12 and run through April 29.
    What’s new in 2022:
    ·       We’ve simplified our award levels to Gold and New Product.
    ·       You spoke, we listened!  We’ve broken out additional categories for this year’s Awards.  The following are stand-alone categories…Barbecue Sauce*Hot Sauce*Meat and Poultry*Seafood*Olive Oils*Nut and Other Oils*Vinegars.
    ·       The 2022 Product of the Year and New Product of the Year Awards will be announced live at the 2022 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.
    Key member and product eligibility rules to keep in mind:
    You must be a member in good standing of the Specialty Food Association.
    ·       2022 membership dues must be paid in full.
    ·       Entries in the New Product category must have been introduced to the U.S. market after February 28, 2021 and before February 28, 2022.
    ·       Products competing in all categories must be selling in the U.S. market no later than February 28, 2022.
    ·       All product entries must be ready for sale. Mock-ups and products still in R&D phase will not be accepted.
    If you have any additional questions or need further assistance, please reach out to us at sofiawards@specialtyfood.com

    Julie Gallagher
    Specialty Food’s first issue of 2022 features up-and-coming trends from the SFA’s Trendspotter Panel, explores the supply chain hurdles being scaled by food retailers, and profiles the food scene in Las Vegas, site of the Winter Fancy Food Show.
    More highlights from the winter issue:
    Specialty Food Maker: This section, that includes topics and business news to help producers and suppliers build their operations to stay prepared for challenges, features “5 Best Practices for Product Packaging,” “Maker Q&A: Challenges Ahead,” and “Is Food Purchased Online Safe?” Category Spotlight: “Coffee and Tea’s Wake-Up Call” Pandemic-driven changes in at-home coffee and tea consumption have been a boon to non ready-to-drink varieties. Cheese Focus: “American Cheddar Comes of Age” As consumers continue to seek comfort foods, it behooves retailers to keep their selection of domestically produce Cheddar cheese up to date. Retail Therapy: “Minimizing Food Waste” Specialty Food asked a trio of retailers about their strategies for minimizing food waste

    Claudine Berti
    The SFA Member Product Marketplace was recently upgraded to a new look and added functionality to make your brand and products more discoverable to qualified buyers and to enable direct online ecommerce. Many members are already on the Product Marketplace. But if you aren’t, or even if you are and could use some help improving your showroom, adding products or becoming transactional for ecommerce, we’ve got you! 
    At next week’s Winter Fancy Food Show, the SFA Member Product Marketplace will have a booth ( #2717) where members can bring their products to get free product images from a professional photographer. Then we’ll upload those product images to your Product Marketplace showroom to get you started. We’ll also have our partners from the Infinite Aisle, the transactional component of the Product Marketplace, in the booth to walk you through the onboarding process for the Infinite Aisle so that you can walk away from the booth ready to sell! 
    What’s more, the SFA is hosting a promotion exclusively for Winter 2022 Fancy Food Show member exhibitors on the SFA Member Product Marketplace. From Feb 21 through 25, we’ll spotlight member exhibitors to our digital audience of thousands of qualified specialty food buyers. There’s no fee to participate and all exhibiting members will be included in the promotion. To increase your visibility during this exclusive promotional week, update your profile with show discounts or special offers.  
    SFA Member Product Marketplace 
    Winter 2022 Fancy Food Show Exhibitor Spotlight 
    Quick Set Up Guide: 
    Log in to your account at www.shopspecialtyfood.balluun.com/en-us     Go to your Profile details, indicate whether you are extending any sales or discounts  Select YES for “Offering Winter ’22 Show Promotion” (call out: this will help buyers find your discounts)  Enter discount details in “Winter ’22 Show Promotion Details”  Go to your Showroom to add/edit products, images, lookbooks, videos and more!  Visit the Product Marketplace booth  #2717 for help updating your Product Marketplace profile for this exciting buyer-focused promotion. We’re excited to be getting back to business and can’t wait to see you at the Product Marketplace booth next week! 

    Julie Gallagher
    Through February 15, the Specialty Food Association will accept nominations for SFA Leadership Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards, and the SFA Hall of Fame. Anyone may nominate either a current or former SFA member. Award winners will be celebrated at the 2022 Summer Fancy Food Show this June.
    The SFA’s three separate award categories celebrate leaders, legends, and remarkable innovators whose work helps shape the future of food. Maybe you were trained by them, work side-by-side with them today, or even see them in the mirror! 
    SFA Leadership Awards honor exceptional individuals who champion the positivity of our industry. Winners are recognized in one of three categories: 
    • Business Leadership: For creating economic opportunity and improved quality of life for food industry personnel.  
    • Citizenship: For improving communities through positive environmental choices, sustainable practices, hunger relief, and/or literacy.  
    • Vision: For pioneering new approaches, innovative products, and positive business models. 
    The SFA Hall of Fame honors those whose career contributions, innovations, and successes within the industry continue to inspire and motivate others. 
    Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented to past and current Association members whose careers are widely recognized as advancing the specialty food industry. 
    Nominate someone today!

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