2013 Summer Fancy Food Show Recap

The Fancy Food Show is held every summer in New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, or Javits Center (the ’12 show moved to Washington, D.C. due to renovations at the Javits Center)

Thousands of food and beverage suppliers rent booth space and hand out samples of their products to the specialty food trade. In reality, a majority of the products on display are likely not going to have price points that conducive to the c-store segment, however, with over 180,000 different products, including foodservice, dairy & deli, confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more, there are bound to be some winners with true c-store category potential. So with that in mind, Convenience Store Decisions hit the show floor for two days of sampling. Following are some of the products that currently have (or could potentially occupy) a profitable spot on a c-store shelf.

Marie Callender’s

Marie Callender’s operates over 75 restaurants, and the restaurants are what the brand is primarily known for. The company has its roots in Southern California in the 1940s where the founder launched a business delivering freshly baked pies to area restaurants. At the Fancy Food Show Booth, the company’s Gourmet Products Division had on display a variety of all natural “restaurant style” gourmet mixes, which consisted of a seven-ounce packet of muffin mixes, 20 different kinds, from Blueberry to Sweet Potato. Kevin Greene, VP of Sales, told me that the convenience factor and price point of $1 make this a great product for the c-store category.

Don’s Food Products

Also branded as Don’s Salads, I visited their booth display, which was laid out like a traditional salad bar such as one would find at a steak-house type of restaurant. After tasting their excellent Buffalo Chicken Dip product, I queried Carl Cappelli, senior vice president of Sales & Biz Dev for any c-store-friendly products. As it turns out, the chain Wawa (like Don’s, based in the Philadelphia  area) had approached Don’s to develop a gourmet Cranberry Sauce for their seasonal and legendary Wawa Gobbler Sandwich.  The Gobbler is a Wawa Thanksgiving promotion that consists of a Hoagy roll stuffed with turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce, and the promotion has been very successful since it launched five years ago, and according to Cappelli, “the Gobbler is a successful “Grab-n-Go” item.” Overall, Capelli told me that he welcomes inquiries from the category, “Don’s sees no limit to c-store innovation, with 160 items made fresh in bulk, c-stores can use Don’s as a catalyst for other products. For example, they can use our items as a “build-with” for a wrap or sandwich. We want c-stores to think of Don’s items as ingredients or components, not just as salads or sides, because this is where the innovation lies.”

Having tried the Gobbler myself and recalled being specifically impressed with the cranberry sauce (included real actual cranberries), I can attest to the success of this approach.



In my opinion, a standout of the event in terms of c-store potential was El Sabroso brand Taco-Litos, a salty snack product from one of the largest snack manufacturers in the country, Snak King. A flavored rolled tortilla chip—kind of like a taquito—with a nice crunchy burst of flavor. El Sabroso Taco-Litos were developed in late 2011 and launched in the fall of 2012.

After sampling the Guacamole flavor (see pic) I asked Jeff Roberts, Snak King’s marketing manager what kind of customer this product would likely attract, and he replied that “most snack food products seem to appeal to certain genders, ages or ethnic groups, but Taco-Litos is bucking that trend.” He continued, “We are seeing excitement and repeat purchases across both genders, age groups and the authentic Mexican flavors are a hit with virtually all ethnic groups.”


CEOMeat sticks have long been c-store product mainstays, usually up there in the top five product categories in terms of gross sales numbers. At the same time, the c-store category is trying to cater to a wider base of customer by offering grocery products viewed as healthier and fresher. The meat stick category doesn’t come to mind as a prime candidate for a makeover, however, a supplier called Vermont Smoke and Cure was sampling their RealSticks product line—a one-ounce stick of beef with “no artificial anything.”  According to Chris Bailey, the CEO of Vermont Smoke and Cure, “the RealSticks product is a natural, healthy, low-sugar and gluten-free alternative snack.” Bailey continued,” There aren’t too many good snack options that fit that profile in overall typical c-store mix, let alone in the meat stick category, and it appeals to the customer already shopping for natural and healthy foods in the grocery store, which is a rapidly growing segment of consumers.” RealSticks are in the Jiffy Mart chain and will be introduced into Tedeschi Food Shops in Massachusetts this month.



Bigg Riggs

We sampled this supplier’s best-selling product, the Hot Pepper Jelly, most popularly served in a 2-1 mix with cream cheese. This is a small supplier with a few c-stores stocking the product around the company’s base, which is central West Virginia. The company’s founder (see pic), served in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, then after his service, returned to the West Virginia farm his family has owned for five generations and decided to start a food company, offering various products, (mainly sauces and condiments) made with all-natural ingredients. With the increasing trend towards natural-based artisanal made products, this company could be a real winner in this niche category.

Bourbon Beer

Ky-bourbonCraft beer is experiencing very impressive growth in c-stores, so I felt it was necessary to stop at the booth where Matt Cordle, Global Sales Manager, was pouring samples of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, a “unique sipping beer with the distinctive nose of a well-crafted bourbon.” They age the brew for up to six weeks in freshly decanted bourbon barrels that they procure from some of Kentucky’s many fine distilleries.

Vanilla and oak flavors are imparted into the product while it ages in the charred barrels. The brewery, located in Lexington, Ky., is the oldest craft brewery in the city and is one of the few joint brewing and distilling operations in the world. Distribution footprint is small right now, but growing.

Dave Hochmnan is a freelance writer and the owner of DJH Marketing Communications Inc. a New Jersey-based a Content Marketing Firm specializing in PR and Social Media. Contact him at Djhochman{at}djhmarcom{dot}com and follow him on Twitter @davehochman and Facebook.



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