Fancy Food ShowWelcome to the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show.

Imagine a wonderland of the world’s best chocolate, cheese, olive oil, charcuterie, savory snacks, spices, organic products and more. You’ll find these products, and the entrepreneurs behind them, at the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City from June 25-27.

The Summer Fancy Food Show (SFFS) is hosted by the Specialty Food Association (SFA), which is celebrating 65 years of bringing innovation to the specialty food industry. The not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,400 members around the world with resources, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace.  

SFFS is the largest trade show for specialty food and beverages in North America. The sold-out exhibit halls are filled with more than 180,000 new products, new brands and top-quality classics from 2,600 exhibitors from across the U.S. and 48 countries, proudly representing the $127 billion industry.

“The Summer Fancy Food Show is a food lover’s paradise for the taste buds and the mind,” said Phil Kafarakis, president, SFA. “Tasting the latest product is only one part of the show, it’s also about understanding the industry. The amount of information we offer – whether it be from our education programs or from our future of food experience, new this year or from our awards programs – should leave everyone walking out with a list of new favorite foods and a wealth of information, arming them to make specialty food a part of their daily lives.”

Some of the highlights for the 2017 show include:

LevelUP, a NEW Immersive Attraction

The new exhibition immerses attendees in tastes, technology and trends of tomorrow. The program will feature future consumer food trends and the forces driving them, food commerce of the future in digital, retail and food service, leading-edge market research and keynote and enhanced education sessions.

Education Program

SFA is presenting daily seminars, panels and discussions of thought-leading and business-building topics at SFFS to inspire startups, established manufacturers and buyers at all levels of expertise to succeed in the ever-changing marketplace. Sessions will include a “Retailer Roundtable” of top supermarket, specialty and e-commerce buyers discussing the future of specialty food and “The Basics: The Business of Specialty Food,” a full-day workshop on June 24 to acclimate young companies to the industry. In addition, the daily “Excite” series of short talks assembles problem solvers, disrupters and thinkers to highlight innovations in product development, food production methods, foodservice and retail experiences, and evolving consumer trends.

Business Builders 1-to-1

Customized match-making program where exhibitors present their products in pre-arranged meetings with top buyers for retailers, distributors and foodservice. More than 1,200 one-on-one appointments are set to take place in sessions facilitated by SFA.

sofi™ Awards Showcases for Outstanding Specialty Foods of 2017

Established in 1972, the sofi Awards advance culinary excellence and creativity worldwide by recognizing the outstanding work of SFA member companies. “sofi” stands for specialty outstanding food innovation. The 2017 sofi Awards, which had 3,000 entries across 39 categories, produced 154 Winners in the Gold, Silver, Bronze, and New Product categories.

sofi™ Awards Product of the Year

For the first time in the 45-year history of the sofi Awards, a Product of the Year award will be given. The winner will be announced at the show.

Industry Newcomers

The “New Brands on the Shelf” pavilion will feature 35 up-and-coming specialty food producers who are SFA member candidates. They will showcase dozens of niche and artisanal specialties.

What’s New, What’s Hot! Showcases

The showcases will feature hundreds of specialty foods that represent the hottest trends in new products, natural and organic. It provides a snapshot of companies on the exhibit floor.

Front Burner: Foodservice Pitch Competition

Four exhibitors will pitch their foodservice-ready products to a panel of specialty food buyers in this live competition taking place in front of an audience of show attendees. All contestants will get exposure and feedback on their products and the winner will receive a promotional package from SFA, including editorial coverage, advertising, and a pro press release. 

Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony

SFA honors the past and inspires the future through the Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony. The Hall of Fame has 25 new inductees. Five SFA members are being honored for their career achievements in specialty food.

Giving Back

At the end of the show, exhibitors will continue their long tradition of giving back by donating thousands of pounds of meat, cheese, produce, confections and snacks to the Specialty Food Foundation, which will in turn donate the products to City Harvest, the SFFS’s longtime charity of choice. Last year, exhibitors donated more than eight-and-a-half tractor-trailers full of specialty food to help feed hungry New Yorkers.

The Summer Fancy Food Show is a trade only show, occurring in New York City from June 25-27. The Winter Fancy Food Show occurs in San Francisco, Calif., from January 21-23, 2018. 

Stu Seltzer award photo Seltzer won the 2017 Ambassador of the Year award for his 13 years of service teaching. By Bianca Herron


Stu Seltzer, president of Seltzer Licensing Group, recently took home New York University’s 2017 Ambassador of the Year award for his 13 years of teaching and service to the NYU community.  

Seltzer has taught a brand licensing class for undergraduates at New York University since 2004.  The prestigious Ambassador of the Year award is given to individuals who have shown to be excellent supporters of the school.

“In his time as a professor at the university, Seltzer has been the definition of an ambassador, not only educating our students but also providing them with meaningful connections and wonderful learning opportunities in and outside of the classroom,” said Nadav Friedman-Grunstein, vice president of the NYU SBS Award Committee, in a statement.

Additionally, Seltzer Licensing Group has also provided many NYU students with internships and full-time employment, Friedman-Grunstein added, noting that Seltzer is the “definition of this award.”

“I’m honored to accept this award and honored to be part of the NYU community,” Seltzer said in a statement. “At NYU, we have the advantage of using NYC as our campus and we take the entire class to experience Toy Fair as well as visit many licensors and licensees including NBA, Nickelodeon, CBS, and interact with many leaders in the licensing industry. I love the business of licensing and thank NYU for allowing me to pass this passion onto the students.”

Mobile crowdsourcingHere are three keys to in-store data retailers can use now. By Mike Grimes


Retail is one of the most data-driven businesses on the planet. Point of sale (POS), store-level foot traffic, merchandising compliance, customer loyalty, inventory, mobile, video, beacons, sensors, lasers …

OK, maybe not lasers, but you get the idea. Retailers don’t need more data, but with e-commerce sales set to top $27 trillion in 2020 according to eMarketer, in-store data is vital to helping brick-and-mortar stores optimize their increasingly valuable physical space.

Brick-and-mortar retailers need data direction: the right kinds of data, combined in the right ways, and presented in a format that both store operations and the head of merchandising can use right now. The goal of every B&M data initiative should be to increase visibility in-store, so retailers can improve the customer experience, simplify inventory management, boost shelf health, better (or re-) train sales associates and react to customer sentiment – at scale, and in near-real time.

It’s a lofty goal but here are three keys to data retailers can use to optimize their stores today.

Data should be systemic

No single data point stays relevant for long in today’s omni-channel environment. Customers bounce from channel to channel on the path to purchase. Demographics shift. And like any good research, scalable, affordable and repeatable results are best measured over time.

The “last mile” of store performance – the shelf – was previously considered “offline” and not systemically available. Today, both retailers and brands can use mobile crowdsourcing, RFID tags and mounted sensors to capture shelf health data over time, to better regulate inventory, pricing and presentation.

Chomps Snack Sticks, a grass-fed, healthy alternative to jerky snacks, is a great example. Chomps recently used mobile crowdsourcing to explore how its packaging appeared on shelves. Over time, the brand discovered store associates were inadvertently destroying their display boxes because corrugated tops were difficult to remove. As a result, Chomps is now systemically testing new packaging designs with better perforation.

Data should be visual

Most of the population (65 percent) are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. Data visualization is critical not just in the academic world, but in business as well. Retailers should say goodbye to data locked in spreadsheets, and hello to real-time graphics that help business users analyze and act quickly and decisively.

Data visualization will become even more important as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands the number of retail data sources. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms have pioneered the eloquent, data and analytics dashboard, and we expect these platforms to continue to replace legacy data management systems.

Data should be integrated

In-store, “offline” data is just as important as sales, revenue and other online data collected by a retailer, but integration is key—they’re all interdependent. By layering data streams, retailers can not only assess the current health of their stores, but also forecast trends for better business decisions in the long-term.

To start, retailers should consider integrating a few basic data flows:

* POS and other sales data

* Market research

* Store traffic

* Associate training

* Merchandising compliance

Picture competitive analysis, and performance information on product displays, adjacencies, and more, delivered and layered on top of other data streams in real-time to create a 360-degree view of the shopping experience. Better still? Include your brand manufacturer partners in these analyses and action plans.

Data You Can Act On

Imagine you’re a merchandiser for Walmart. With systemic, visual and integrated sales and merchandising data, you discover you must improve display compliance for consumer electronics brands to agreed-upon levels, versus your current 28 percent revenue shortfall.

In another scenario, your data indicates you must retrain 35 percent of your key locations whose store associates are completely unaware of the current seasonal promotion, which expires in two weeks.

Retailers need more than incremental data to increase the performance of their stores. But with integrated data, collected systemically and presented in easy-to-read actionable dashboard views, retailers hold the keys to making brick-and-mortar an immensely valuable part of the omni-channel experience.

Mike Grimes is chief revenue officer (CRO) at Mobee, an offline data and insights platform that uses crowdsourcing to collect, organize and analyze consumer data at scale. With more than 25 years of experience building digital solutions for retail-centric organizations, Grimes leads Mobee’s go-to-market strategy, sales and business development efforts.

LOL Surprise The global licensing program includes apparel, accessories, publishing and stationery. By Bianca Herron

At this year’s Licensing Expo, MGA Entertainment Inc., or “MGAE," will share details of a new global licensing program for its successful doll line, L.O.L. Surprise!TM.

The fashion-forward doll line took the retail market by storm when it launched this past December. L.O.L. Surprise!TM comes packaged in multi-layered balls that, when unwrapped, reveal various accessories for the doll found at its core. 

In 2018, MGAE – the world’s leading privately held toy company – will kick off its global licensing program and release a variety of fresh and innovative licensed products of the doll line, which will be done in four phases:

* Phase I will target fashion apparel, sleepwear and accessories;

* Phase II targets products, including health & beauty, gift & novelty, stationery & party good, and crafts & activities;

* Phase III will encompass publishing, back-to-school, game & electronics, and home décor; and

* Phase IV will encompass food & beverage, seasonal and sporting goods.

“In developing the global licensing program, we have a seemingly limitless opportunity to engage potential partners in every key product category – from apparel and accessories to publishing and stationery – buoyed by the phenomenal consumer response to L.O.L. Surprise! and the continuing success with major retailers including Toys”R”Us, Walmart, Target and Amazon,” MGAE’s Head of Global Licensing Juli Boylan said in a statement. “L.O.L. Surprise! is a truly innovative toy and we have an equally impressive licensing program!”

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27399986650 90aa929dbf oAs the premier tradeshow for interactive entertainment, E3 brings the video game industry’s top talent together. By Bianca Herron

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is one of the world's biggest video game expos. Owned and operated by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), this year’s annual event will be held June 13-15, 2017, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

As the world's premier event for computer, video and mobile games and related products, the three-day expo will connect tens of thousands of the best, brightest and most innovative in the interactive entertainment industry. Leading-edge companies, groundbreaking new technologies and never-before-seen products will be showcased during the event.

The ESA first debuted the annual expo in 1995. Though it has always been closed to the public - hosting only game developers, retailers and media - this year the ESA will open the annual industry event to the public for the first time ever.

A total of 15,000 tickets have been made available and they will include access to the show floor, panel discussions and other events, including video game television host Geoff Keighley’s live studio show, YouTube Live at E3, which will include interviews with game developers and executives.

“The feedback we heard was clear. They wanted to play the games inside the convention center. In addition, exhibitors inside the convention center wanted to have access to the fans. So this year we’re bringing the two together,” ESA Senior Vice President of Communications Rich Taylor told the GameSpot website.

Taylor also said the ESA is always looking for ways to make the E3 Expo more relevant and useful for game industry professionals, journalists and the public.

“I think asking, ‘How can we improve?’ ‘Where are video games headed?’ and ‘How do we connect with fans?’ are all healthy questions, and that helps ensure E3 stays current and meets exhibitors’ needs,” he said.

In addition, E3 will also offering business passes for the first time this year. With E3's Business Pass, attendees will be able to connect with tens of thousands of industry professionals, such as industry analysts and business partners.

Attendees with the pass will also receive with several benefits, including a three-day expo pass, access to the VIP Lounge, catered breakfast and lunch each day, access to the Exhibit Hall through a dedicated VIP Entrance, as well as access to CEO/Developer panels and LA Live activations.

“This is a changing industry and E3 has always evolved to meet industry needs and anticipate where we’re heading together—as an event, as an industry and as fans,” Dan Hewitt, ESA’s vice president of media relations and event management says. “The decision to open our doors to fans was a strategic decision.

Hewitt attributes ESA’s members and their vision and leadership with making these new experiences possible at E3.

“We have a model that allows the business of the industry to continue for our business and media attendees, and provides an opportunity for video games’ biggest fans to experience the latest in innovative, immersive entertainment,” he says.

“E3 will feature more than 200 exhibitors showcasing never-before-seen video games. Couple that experience with an opportunity to listen to leading video game industry figures at E3’s panel sessions.   “E3 has a reputation around the world as the place where video game hardware and software launches happen,” Hewitt concludes. “Last year, E3 generated more than 65 billion media impressions around the globe. That doesn’t happen accidentally and it’s a testament to E3’s strength, its connection to the fans, and the event’s position in the industry.”    

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