Put on by the Specialty Food Association, the 2022 Summer Fancy Food Show made a triumphant return to New York City last week, its first show there in three years because of covid.
Travel restrictions did not seem to dampen interest from abroad, as companies from 60 countries exhibited.
Since I started going to this show in 2010, one thing has been quite noticeable — a movement toward more healthy, less processed foods. And while it is by no means an organic trade show, I would estimate that about 10-15% of the booths were organic brands or carried at least one organic SKU.
What Fancy Food does well is that it breaks up the show floor into different categories. Whether that be geographical (by country or U.S. state) or thematic (beverages, cheese, deli, chocolate).
Aside from the prominence of international brands, what is also notable about this show is the attention given to younger companies. In addition to a special section for BIPOC founders, there was a Startup Pavillion ($1M in revenues or less) and also the Incubator Village, which featured six different incubators from around the country.
At the Incubator Village, a handful of companies presented at each incubator, and in total, there was a very small number of USDA certified organic brands.
Wanting to understand how organic is viewed at each incubator and suggestions for the industry, I spoke with several of the organizations that exhibited in this section. Below are their edited responses.
Kobla Asamoah, Senior Director of Accelerator Operations at Caminus Ventures, a non-profit accelerator focused on supporting Black entrepreneurs that have businesses in the areas of food, beverage and adjacent industries.
As we are still a new initiative, we haven’t proactively led with the topic of organic. However, the small sample size of businesses that we have been working with find organic to be very important, largely because they view organic as being thoughtful, in terms of how they source materials and the overall business practices. The founders and their customers want to know “how” suppliers are farming and growing.
The organic industry could better support start-ups by making it easier for businesses to learn the process of organic certification, improving the messaging around the process of organic certification to make it less intimidating for smaller businesses, helping businesses that have not prioritized organic to understand why it should be a priority, and improving engagement with minority communities.
Ploy Khunisorn, Director of Educational Programs at CommonWealth Kitchen, a food incubator kitchen in Boston. Over 85% of the businesses in its kitchen are BIPOC-owned, women-owned, and/or immigrant-owned businesses.
Regarding organic, we leave it to these food businesses to determine whether they should pursue organic certification based on their customer profiles, business goals and costs. Since this is up to them, each business will also determine if they would choose USDA organic certification or any alternative certification, depending on the complexity and costs. We have several food businesses in our kitchen that are USDA certified organic.
We expect consumer demand for organic food to continue to rise, especially from those who remain committed to personal wellness and sustainability. Given the growth of the plant-based trend, we will see more interest and more production in clean labels, whole foods and organic ingredients.
We hope that the organic industry could provide more business and financial support to small food processors, as these businesses play essential roles in educating consumers and building the local food economy.
Cathy Young, Executive Director of the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech, a hub that connects food and agriculture businesses and entrepreneurs with Cornell research and expertise to establish New York as a leader in agricultural innovation.
We have worked with nearly 400 food and agriculture startups and businesses, including both organic and conventional food producers. Cornell is a world leader in organic agriculture research, and we view organic food production as a growing and valuable segment of the agricultural market.
There’s a lot of competition out there, and our start-up companies are looking for ways to set themselves apart so that consumers choose their products in the marketplace. Many choose to go organic because they feel it gives them an edge, and increasingly, people are focused on health when they choose which products to buy.
The market for organic foods is clear and thriving, and we encourage food producers to seek organic certification when it fits within a product’s market and the priorities of the individual business.
Sarah Masoni, Director of Product & Process Development Program at the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State University, a resource for client-based product and process development, packaging engineering and shelf life studies, food safety and consumer sensory testing. It is committed to taking food products to market and advancing Northwest foods.
Organic ingredients and a label declaration to a large buyer looking for key attributes could be of value to the producer.
In my experience, however, the difficulty of organic certification is relative to the availability of the ingredients needed to produce the food entrepreneurs’ products. Starting small may not be a challenge, but scaling and availability will be, as logistics and supply chain issues may be the bottleneck. Regionally and locally sourced ingredients are generally of higher value to consumers.
If we want more value-added organic foods in our marketplace, we must create opportunities for start-ups that promise the availability of ingredients as they grow their business. Large organic food companies buy up all of the supply, leaving little growth opportunities for start-ups.
We infrequently work with organic as premises in our development. Maybe 15% of our projects discuss organic.
Despite the fact that this was not an organic show per se, the innovation that I saw from organic brands was outstanding.
Here are My Top 5 Organic Products from the show, and other excellent products that I discovered at Fancy Food are featured in the New Organic Products section below.
Max Goldberg, Founder
In a historic victory for farmworkers and the environment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the EPA's decision that the toxic pesticide glyphosate poses no cancer risks, sending the agency back to redo its environmental analysis.
The co-founder and head of Patagonia Provisions explains why the outdoorsy apparel brand wants to change the way we eat.
An enormous development to have an ROC certified product at a major restaurant chain.
Mars is launching CO2COA -- a synthetic biology chocolate bar featuring Perfect Day’s non-animal GMO 2.0 whey protein, which is made by genetically-engineered microbes, not cows. Let's hope consumers know what they are buying.
SYSTM Foods, a partnership between SYSTM Brands and PowerPlant Partners, has acquired the two organic beverage companies for an undisclosed amount.
Synbio companies are starting to realize that they will face massive pushback for being a GMO company. Make sure to read the last Organic Insider for additional information.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Bayer's bid to dismiss legal claims by customers who contend its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer. as the German company seeks to avoid potentially billions of dollars in damages.
Biodiversity loss could flatten corporate profits. Investors are scrambling to figure out which firms hold the most risk.
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* National Organic Coalition members are meeting with dozens of Congressional offices this week.
* This Oregon brewery has its own organic farm.
* Organic & Natural Health Association has already surpassed its fundraising goal for opportunities in the natural products industry for students of HBCUs
* Sempera Organics has launched standardized, organic-certified mushroom ingredients.
* How cannabis-fed chickens may help cut Thai farmers’ antibiotic use.
* Clif Bar announced a $1M endowment for organic agricultural research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
* KeHE’s new sourcing service allows grocers to diversify store shelves.
* In Boston, Life Alive Organic Cafe is expanding.
* I hope one day that I get to try her food.
* We will not be publishing the week of the July 4th holiday but will return on July 13th.