The Winter Fancy Food, held Jan. 15-17, drew more than 18,000 buyers, who saw some of the latest trends, including savory sweets and mindful snacks. Photo provided.


It’s likely you’ll start noticing more savory sweets, mindful snacks, figs, pickled items, coconut, gluten-free products and ancient grains on store shelves soon - at least if you think this year’s Winter Fancy Food show is any indication.

And judging by the fact that the three-day event held in San Francisco broke attendance records with more than 18,000 buyers attending the show, it’s likely you wouldn’t be the only one.

“The numbers are strong, and so is the spirit of innovation and creativity that are the foundations of the specialty food industry,” says Ann Daw, president of the National Association for the Speciality Food Trade (NASFT), which organized the event. “Our industry is showing renewed vigor.”

Attendance figures weren’t the only thing that showed the strength of the event. The exhibit halls were filled with more than 80,000 specialty products from 1,300 food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs representing more than 35 countries and regions, NASFT says.

Held at Moscone Center, the show covered 206,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, up from 196,000 sq. ft. in 2011, the largest to date in San Francisco. The extra space allowed for 60 more specialty food makers to present their products alongside an exhibit of 30 emerging food entrepreneurs.

The event wasn’t all business though.

As part of a tradition, exhibitors made a major food donation to Bay Area food pantries and soup kitchens in partnership with Feed the Hungry, an anti-hunger organization, at the end of the show.

More than 150 volunteers gathered enough specialty chocolate, cheese, olive oil, meats, snacks and confections to fill more than three tractor-trailers and supply meals to 5,000 individuals in need.

NASFT presents two Fancy Food Shows each year. The 58th Summer Fancy Food Show will be held June 17 – 19, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The Winter Show returns to Moscone Center next year from Jan. 20 – 22.

For more information about the show, visit specialtyfood.com; for more information on NASFT, visit foodspring.com.