What a wonderful three days at the 42nd Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco last week! It was a chance to network with 33,000 fellow industry professionals and tastemakers, and to see the latest, greatest food and beverage brands. Here are a few takeaways from walking over 215,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space that featured 1,400 companies from 30 countries.
- Upcycling as a means to eliminate food waste. It was great to see a company like Barnana that takes organic bananas from Latin America that are a wee bit too ripe, aren’t the perfect size, or are otherwise deemed too unsightly for export, and turns them into tasty bites.
- Matcha, Matcha, Matcha! This Japanese tea powder showed up throughout the exhibit halls in hot and cold drinks, kombucha, ice cream, mochi, baked goods, sea salts and candies. Matcha is harvested from the tips of the tea plant while they’re still young and packed with flavor, nutrients and caffeine. Matcha contains L-Theanine, a natural calming agent that works with the caffeine to provide what’s described as a calm, focused and happy energy.
- Food Waste – Who would have thought the surge in urban craft breweries would create a disruption in the historical symbiotic relationship between breweries and farmers? Brewing beer is an age-old practice, “spent” malt was traditionally picked up by farmers who used it to enrich their soil and feed their animals. However, the boom in craft brewing in urban areas has complicated this process.The fuel, tolls and time costs of making supply runs into a city are prohibitive to many farmers, resulting in many urban brewers having no better option than to have their grain hauled to compost or a landfill. Regrained takes beer grains from urban beer production and bakes it into high protein/fiber bars.
The show was also a great opportunity to meet fellow B Corps from around the country and to hear their inspiring stories of using business as a force for good. And many thanks to the generous members and exhibitors who continued a long tradition at the end of the show 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 Feed the Hungry, the Winter Fancy Food Show’s longtime charity of choice.