Innovation — More Than Just The Product And More Than Just The Producers.
Lisbeth Echeandia
Direct Line: (903) 965-9300
I often hear complaints that “there’s really nothing new” out there in the candy and snack categories. I disagree. Even a quick glance at our Product Update section shows how creative manufacturers can be, both in product and presentation. There is definitely a lot of thinking outside the box evident! “Big thinking” needs to go all the way from the manufacturers to the consumer, involving everyone in the distribution process. That way, everybody wins!
The Fancy Food Show is a great place to see innovation in action, combined with enthusiasm and belief in product … plus top-notch product quality. I recently attended the New York City edition of the show, and it’s always stimulating to be there. It helps, of course, that you can vary your eating journey between sweet and savory with some delicious beverages to cleanse the palate along the way.
The show is truly a hedonist’s delight. It’s all about food at the Fancy Food Show … with a strong focus on taste, ingredients and presentation. It’s a nice change from the uncaring, unfocused approach that is prevalent at some shows.
Innovation goes to waste when great products don’t make it to the retail shelf. Fortunately product innovators get pretty creative in other areas too and don’t hesitate to get their items on the shelves of any retail outlet that will consider them. The beauty of the Fancy Food Show is that there are retailers for every item; ordering ‘eaches’ is fairly common in the specialty food trade. That’s how small outlets can have the broad assortment of items that keeps them ticking, and, just as importantly, supports the small, specialized producers. Small supporting small. The system works.
Candy and snacks “work” because of the wide variety of outlets that can credibly (and profitably) sell confections and snacks. In the tool kit of innovation, manufacturers need to consider the needs of the non-traditional retailers of candy and snacks. And for their part, specialty or non-traditional retailers need to create their own excitement or innovation when it comes to merchandising these products.
Choice and Not Chastisement ….
Back to the Fancy Food Show — there were sugar-free and low-fat products and a definite focus on health, well-being and wellness. All were presented as “choices” for the food lover with no reference to “bad foods” and no chastisements about “bad” eating habits. What a refreshing attitude.
It was similarly refreshing to see exhibitors frequently mentioning the fantastic taste of their products. Now that’s a novel approach — one worth emulating! And, finally, why are some manufacturers so stingy with sampling at trade shows? Letting the visitor taste the product is some of the best advertising of all and well worth the investment.