The Specialty Food Association‘s Fancy Food Show is the must-go-to event in the food and beverage industry. This year’s summer show, held at Jacob Javits Center in New York City on June 25-27, showcased the latest trends and innovations in the world of specialty foods. With a sold-out show of 30,000 in attendance, the show provided a platform for companies to display their products, connect with buyers, and gain insights into the ever-evolving landscape of the CPG industry.

As a creative agency that specializes in consumer brands, we exhibited to immerse ourselves in our industry. Luckily, we were the only creative agency to exhibit; an opportunity to learn firsthand about upcoming trends and how specialty food brands are making their mark. Here are a few things we have learned at the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show. 


1. The Rise of Specialty Food: A Lucrative Market

The Summer Fancy Food Show served as a testament to the continued growth and potential of the specialty food industry. Specialty foods and beverages are projected to reach $207 billion in sales in 2023, according to data from the 2023-2024 State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, accounting for nearly 22% of total food sales. This substantial market share reflects the increasing consumer interest in unique, high-quality, and innovative food products.

The show’s success in attracting a diverse range of industry professionals, including retailers, food service providers, and distributors, further emphasizes the significance of the specialty food sector. There is a growing demand for international brands in the U.S. market because of their access to a supply of unique foods. Many conversations centered around how these distributors can create a brand that would entice an American consumer. In short, the food industry is continuously evolving based on the wants and needs of the consumer. Thankfully, the Fancy Food Show is a vital platform for networking, trendspotting, and product discovery – especially across borders.


2. Packaging as a Differentiator

In an increasingly crowded marketplace, effective packaging design has become a key differentiator for CPG brands. At the Summer Fancy Food Show, brands like Sayso stood out with their sustainable packaging and original products, which makes tea bags that can be used to create alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktails. The CEO of the Food Institute, Brian Choi, emphasized the importance of differentiation in today’s competitive landscape, stating that “just being ‘good’ is not good enough.”

Fancy Food Show Exhibitor, Sayso


Brands recognized the need to stand out visually and strategically leverage packaging to communicate their values and product offerings. Companies utilized neon lights, LED-backlit displays, and pristine sample packaging to attract potential buyers and create a lasting impression.


3. The Power of Celebrity: Chef- and Restaurant-Branded Products

Notable chefs and restaurants made their mark at the Summer Fancy Food Show through branded products. Celebrity chefs like José Andrés and Tom Colicchio, as well as renowned establishments like Carbone and Magnolia Bakery, ventured into product development and sales. These branded products ranged from pasta, hot sauces, and spices to frozen tapas and single-serve cookies.

The appeal of chef and restaurant-branded products lies in the association of quality and expertise. Consumers often trust and admire the culinary skills and creativity of renowned chefs, making their branded products a desirable choice. 


4. Retailers Look for Brands Who Have a Strong Online Presence

Due to increased competition and strained supply chains, retailers have focused on retaining brands they know can deliver and customers’ favor. We learned that retailers now consider factors such as social media presence and an established community when making buying decisions. Ironically, these factors can reduce the risks associated with bringing on a new brand. Buyers can see a steady track record of successful online sales that can be replicable in physical stores.

The 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show highlighted the dynamic nature of the CPG industry with trends such as specialty food’s popularity, differentiated packaging, and celebrity-branded products. With each event, the Fancy Food Shows continue to shape the future of the specialty food industry and inspire industry professionals to push boundaries and innovate within their respective sectors. 


In case you missed us at the Fancy Food Show, check out the work we did below:


Fancy Food Show Photography

4 Trends from the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show

Care to share?