We recently returned from our first Fancy Food Show hosted by the Specialty Food Association in San Francisco, CA. And what a great experience it was (not to mention learning lessons and food tasting extravaganza!) For those unfamiliar with the Fancy Food Show, this industry trade show features more than 80,000 specialty foods and beverage brands, thousands of new products and more than 1,400 exhibitors from around the globe. We never knew there were so many brands of cheese, chocolate and snacks out there. We decided it was the perfect time for Pappy & Company to exhibit with our growing line of barrel-aged culinary products and a growing trend in barrel-aged anything! So we packed up our bags along with about 5,000 bourbon balls and headed West!
To give you all a better picture of what this show entailed, imagine hundreds of aisles of food brands all aiming for the same thing, to showcase the best of their products and ideally pair up with prospective buyers to stock their goods. As a first time exhibitor and small family run business, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, and were pleasantly surprised to see that even our small, but mighty team of four was able to make a big splash among much bigger brands.
Among some of the largest food brands in the world, here we were at our 10x10 booth showcasing our barrel aged culinary products including our:
- Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup
- Bourbon Barrel Aged Pepper Sauce
- Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee
- Bourbon Nib Brittle
- Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned Mix
- Handmade Bourbon Balls
Thankfully we were able to recruit two of our partners from Midland Ghost and Bissell Maple Farm (Thanks again David and Nate!) to help us present onsite and manage the thousands of visitors that stopped by our booth. Did we mention that we were serving cocktails? Word spread quickly that happy hour started early at our booth, so we were a favorite at about 3pm when the show would wind down and our famous Old Fashioneds using our Bittermilk mixer in our “Pappy Hour” cups started flowing.
We wanted our booth design to bring the barrel-aging process to life. We blew up a life size photo of our barrels aging in the distillery as our backdrop and outfitted our booth with barrels and barrel furniture pieces to make it feel authentic to the distillery experience. We may have had one of the smaller spaces on the floor, but guests were continually impressed with our lifelike bourbon feel that stood out among our neighbors and really showcased the importance of the barrel-aging process with our culinary goods.
Over a period of three days we met lots of exciting prospective businesses and learned a ton about how we could grow our presence among specialty stores and larger grocery markets. We were also excited to meet a number of other women led businesses. Two of our favorites were Copper Cow Coffee based out of Los Angeles and and Siren Plant Based Protein Snacks from San Francisco. Both brands had gorgeous packaging and a really unique presence among two very concentrated spaces. It really brought to life the fact that packaging and marketing can make all the difference in terms of a brand’s growth potential when there are so many brands to choose from out there. And of course, it’s always good to see a friendly familiar face with Callie’s Biscuits just around the corner from us serving up their all too yummy buttery biscuits that only get better when you dip them in our barrel-aged maple syrup. We just might be on to something here (hint, hint).
All in all, it was a great event and we learned so much. Most of all that it’s important that we stay true to who we are, don’t get caught up in gimmicky trends and always stand by our motto: to make the best using the best. We’ve always known that high quality ingredients matter and this only reinforced those beliefs. As a small business we still can compete with bigger brands because quality trumps quantity. We believe that bourbon barrel-aged foods are more than just a trend and that there are lots of new culinary products we could potentially develop. It’s exciting to think how much room we have to grow and where we will be at next year’s show.
On that note, stay tuned for new product announcements next month. We have some very exciting news to announce!