By Wilbert Jones
Recently, Bon Appetit Magazine named Chicago, Restaurant City of the Year. Long before this windy city became home to some of the best chefs in world, the food, beverage and decorative businesses hosted their signature trade shows in Chicago for decades. Annually, well over 100,000 attendees and exhibitors come to the International Home + Housewares Show, National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo and the Global Cold Chain Expo.
This year, the International Home + Housewares (www.housewares.org), had over 1,000 exhibitors offering the newest home and kitchen products. A host of celebrity chefs demonstrated their newest line of cookware, food preparation products, dining and entertaining goods.
Michigan-based KitchenAid (www.kitchenaid) showcased its new Cold Brew Coffee Maker. Croatia manufacturer, Soing (www.soing.net), introduced to the market a new metal plate protector for irons called Iron Shoe. It doesn’t burn, scorch or shine and designed universally to fit over all irons.
The 98th Annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel -Motel Show registered over 68,000 food and beverage professionals. Trends noted included Street Food inspired dishes, house-made charcuterie, ethnic-inspired breakfast sandwiches, and ethnic spices such as Moroccan Harissa, Reginal Indian Curry and South African Peri Peri.
Exhibitor Vineyard Fresh (www.vineyardfresh.com) demonstrated their creative product made of 100% argon, a wine preserver which stops the oxidation of wine by spraying a protective barrier over it. Florida-based MIC Food (www.micfood.com), sampled its line of frozen (heat-and-serve) line of plantain strips and yuca fries. These products are marketed as 100% natural with no added preservations and are gluten-free.
The National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks (www.sweetsandsnacks.com), drew a record number of 20 start-up entrepreneur companies and more than 200 new exhibitors. Around 800 companies and over 17,000 attendees participated in this year’s expo. Highlights were manufacturer Gardiner of Scotland, the maker of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey Fudge Caramels and Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey Fudge Caramels. There were many confectionary manufacturers with products GMO free, USDA certified and NSF gluten-free. Hot and spicy snacks continue to be in demand – the flavors are getting hotter. Texas-based company, Paqui (www.paqui.com), launched tortilla chips made with ghost peppers. These peppers are 855,000 Scoville heat units – one of the hottest peppers in the world. Paqui chips are distributed throughout the USA.
The Global Cold Chain Expo took place this past June at McCormick Place and combined with three other expos: The International Floriculture Expo, United Fresh Market Expo and the United Fresh Tec Expo. There were several exhibitors from Africa, including Ethiopian Horticultural Producers Exporters Association (www.ehpea.org) – over 100 producers of flowers, fruits, vegetables and a variety of herbs. Kenyan Oserian Flowers debuted their 2018 upcoming flower collection, which will be some of the world’s largest and most beautiful roses ever grown.
Over at the United Fresh Market Expo, California-based World Variety Produce, Inc. (www.melissas.com), sampled out South African baby pineapples – some of the sweetest every produced.
Be sure to go to each website to check out dates for 2018. If you are in the food industry either as an entrepreneur or professional for another company, I highly recommend attending at least one.
Photo credit: International Home & Housewares Show