At Fancy Food Show, Kosher Steps Out

At Fancy Food Show, Kosher Steps Out

When Jules Verne wrote his classic novel, around the World in Eighty Days; in 1873, such a feat seemed impossible.

However, this past week, foodies at the 61st Summer Fancy Food Festival could accomplish this goal without ever stepping foot outside of NewYork City's Javits Center. Organized by country or state of origin, over 2,600 artisanal food producers from across the globe, both kosher and non-kosher, assembled their respective goods, ranging from blood-red beet chips to tire-sized parmesan cheese wheels to wild hibiscus flowers coated in a sugary syrup.

Sampling foods from Cyprus to California to Morocco to Kansas was merely a matter of a few steps. In the past, brands such as Ben and Jerry’s and Popchips used this international platform to expand into the household names they are today.

This year, many new attendees representing smaller businesses hoped to do the same through networking with industry insiders.

"It's our first time at the show," said Ellen Valter, a representative of Wisconsin's Country Connection Cheese Company, so that's why we're here, to get to that next level. For distributors of kosher products, the Fancy Food Show served as a chance to break into the general market.

"Right now, I'm not exhibiting for the Kosher market," said Abe Cohen, whose ZAZA candies are already available in kosher supermarkets, as well as B&H Photo and branches of Chase Bank. "The kosher market, I have my business already."

On the flip side, some of the most unlikely brands hoped that a hechsher would broaden their appeal. "We're not certified [kosher] yet, but it is going through it now," said a representative of Playboy (yes, that Playboy), whose newest endeavor, a Brazilian spirit called Cachaça, will debut in the United States later this year.

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