Education Program

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Program Schedule

Get inspired to take your specialty food company to the next level! Whether you are a newcomer to the specialty food trade, are looking to expand your established business, or want to stay on top of trends and topical issues, the Summer Fancy Food Show offers a variety of seminar packages and a la carte options to meet your needs.

Package Price Description
Multi-Class Pass $199 for members
$499 for non-members
Choose one class during each education slot during the Show. Includes your badge to visit the Show!
Start Up Sunday Package $79 for members
$239 for non-members
A three-class educational series designed for newcomers to the industry. Includes your badge to visit the Show!
Retailer Education Pass $99 for members
$299 for non-members
Four classes specifically designed for store owners and managers to increase your industry knowledge and skills. Includes your badge to visit the Show!
Advanced Manufacturer/Supplier Education Pass $99 for members
$299 for non-members
Four classes designed to help you get current with trends and news in the industry. Includes your badge to visit the Show!

Individual Sessions are also available -- scroll down for the schedule.



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The Basics: The Business of Specialty Foods
  • 8:00am-5:00pm
  • Ann Daw, Doug Renfro, Jack Acree, John Roberts, Julie Jeremy, Ron Tanner, and Timothy Metzger
  • $99 member / $269 non-member

In this one-day intensive workshop, you'll learn the fundamentals of the specialty food marketplace and get inspired to start on your own success story. You'll spend the day with the most knowledgeable, experienced minds in the business including the leaders of the Specialty Food Association and food business experts who have built thriving companies from the ground up.

We'll cover:

  • the history of specialty foods in the U.S.,
  • the lingo and terminology of the specialty food business
  • various trade segments, including brokers, distributors, and retailers, and how they function

And you'll learn how to:

  • build your brand
  • sell to supermarkets and specialty retailers
  • price your product and extend credit
  • market to the trade using promotions, shows and other activities

You will leave with a comprehensive textbook, a clearer understanding of the industry, and real-world answers to your questions. Lunch is included.


How to Succeed in the U. S. Specialty Food Market for International Companies
  • 1:00pm-4:00pm
  • Remer Lane
  • $149

Breaking into the specialty food market in the United States can be difficult. We will walk you through the process step by step and explain the different paths to success that are available.
In this three-hour seminar, you'll hear from experts in retail, distribution, and importing.

Speakers include Remer Lane, an international industry expert who has helped many countries connect to the US trade, and speakers from US distributors, importers and retailers such as Whole Foods, World Finer Foods, and KeHe.

We'll touch on:

  • The basics of the U. S. retail food distribution system
  • The standards of the U. S. market, including the Food Safety Modernization Act, labeling, nutritional panels, UPC, kosher, halal, organic, and other standards
  • How to understand costs, scale, and capacity in order to bring your products to market in a cost-effective way
  • How to interview and prepare to work with retailers and distributors, including what questions to ask and what to expect at a meeting
  • How to make the most of your time at a trade show, including how to follow up with your leads

We'll also let you know how to take the necessary next steps and where to go for further information.


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SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2014

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Start Right, Grow Strong: 9 Critical Steps
  • 8:00am-9:30am
  • John Roberts
  • $59 member / $119 non-member

Led by specialty food trade expert John Roberts, this keynote session provides a comprehensive, commonsense plan for entering and succeeding in the specialty food market.

You'll learn how to:

  • evaluate your product’s potential based on key success factors
  • execute a low-cost market test
  • analyze the results of your efforts
  • develop a fact-based business plan
  • expand with minimum risk

You'll also take away detailed worksheets and handouts that you can consult as you put what you've learned into practice.

Note: this session fills up quickly. Sold as part of the Start Up Sunday package or as a separate ticket.


Sell Smart: The Best Channels for Your Product
  • 9:45am-11:15am
  • Ian Kelleher
  • $59 member / $119 non-member

As you prepare to bring your product to market, there's one key question to consider: which market? Each channel has its own rules and protocols and you'll need to determine where you want to sell. Ian Kelleher, director of strategic channels for Peeled Snacks, will talk you through the different channels, explain how brokers and distributors get involved, and help you create a sales pitch that will get your product on the shelf.

The channels we'll cover will include:

  • Grocery
  • Natural
  • Convenience
  • Gourmet/specialty
  • Clubs
  • Mass-market
  • Online
  • And more

Note: this session fills up quickly. Sold as part of the Start Up Sunday package or as a separate ticket.


Price It Right: Using Costs to Create Real-World Price Sheets
  • 11:30am-1:00pm
  • Jonathan Milo Leal
  • $59 member / $119 non-member

Setting the ideal price for your product is one of the key factors that can help your food business thrive.

In this practical, hands-on workshop, you'll learn:

  • How to start from your cost of goods to establish various pricing levels for wholesale, distributor, private label, and export
  • How freight affects your final cost
  • How to set the margin structure for your company, as well as the distributors and retailers you'll be working with
  • Common pricing pitfalls
  • Steps to take to be sure you're protecting your profit margin and growing safely

Note: this session fills up quickly. Sold as part of the Start-Up Sunday package or as a separate ticket.


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MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2014

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How to Use Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Business
  • 8:00am-9:00am
  • Greta Miersma and Tyler Campbell
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

You're busy running your business. Who has time to interact on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram? You do. Really.

In three simple, manageable steps, we’ll show you how to leverage social media to engage customers, grow sales, promote your product and events, get press, and build your brand. You'll see how other food and beverage businesses have succeeded on social media, and you'll come away with tips and strategies that will make your time and effort pay off.


Labeling and Marketing Claims: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
  • 8:00am-9:00am
  • Chip English
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

What's in a claim? In just an hour, food regulatory and litigation attorney Chip English will help you understand how to evaluate the legal risks and rewards of voluntary marketing and labeling claims, especially in light of class action enforcement and evolving legislation.

He'll cover:

  • How to position and protect new products against litigation risks
  • What’s required to make claims like organic, natural, local and no sugar added
  • How foodservice packagers and proprietors are affected by labeling claims, and
  • How retailers should label prepared foods to avoid problems

By the end of this session, you'll understand what’s required to make certain claims, the most common legal pitfalls in food labeling, and practices your company can adopt to avoid risk.


The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014
  • 9:00am-10:00am
  • Ron Tanner and David Lockwood
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

Join expert speakers from the Specialty Food Association and Mintel for an update on our industry and some thoughts about how innovations and changes in the landscape might affect your business. Building on landmark research, this presentation will provide information about the size, scope and structure of the specialty food industry, as well as specific product categories and the impact that our current economy has had on the trade.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Sales growth within specialty food categories
  • Comparisons of specialty food category growth versus mainstream foods
  • Benchmarking data across classes of trade


Demystifying Marketing for Independent Retailers
  • 9:00am-10:00am
  • Greg O'Neill
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

You're great at selling products, but how are you at selling your store? Fear of marketing keeps many potentially great retailers from realizing their potential.

Outstanding marketing helps you build relationships with your customers, drive your growth, and ultimately save and make you money. Greg O'Neill has taught his staff that marketing is everyone's job and he'll show you how learning the basics can reap dividends for business owners in ways that ring the register.

You'll learn about marketing elements like:

  • Advertising
  • Philanthropy
  • Customer communications
  • Public relations
  • Social media
  • Merchandising

Along the way, you'll see how you can define your goals, create promotions and campaigns, and evaluate how your efforts are paying off.


Sustainable Packaging: What's New? How Does it Affect Your Business?
  • 9:00am-10:00am
  • Danielle Peacock
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

The idea of sustainable packaging is not new—most specialty food businesses can agree that they'd like to do their part for the planet. But is it possible to achieve this goal with tight margins and production costs? We think so, and sustainable packaging expert Danielle Peacock can help.

In this seminar, we'll cover:

  • What's happening in sustainable food packaging: what are the trends and innovations? Who is having success with it?
  • Why sustainable packaging is increasingly important to consumers and companies
  • How manufacturers can make sustainable practices part of their current packaging and plan for the future.


Understanding Olive Oil
  • 9:00am-10:30am
  • Eryn Balch and Jean-Louis Barjol
  • Price: $0

This seminar, sponsored by the International Olive Council, will teach you everything you need to know about olive oil.

In this seminar, topics include:

  • What the American consumer really thinks of olive oil
  • Speaker: Eryn Balch, Executive Vice President, North American Olive Oil Association
  • What you really need to know about olive oil
  • Speaker: Jean-Louis Barjol, Executive Director, International Olive Council


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GMO: What You Need to Know Today
  • 8:00am-9:00am
  • Bob Burke
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

Discussion of Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, and their labeling in food products has moved out of the natural niche and into the mainstream as more and more consumers are becoming interested in the issues surrounding ingredient transparency. In addition, leading retailers and distributors are showing strong support for food companies to label products “verified non-GMO.” This can present opportunities and challenges for members as they navigate this sometimes complex issue.

In this seminar, Bob Burke of Natural Products Consulting will present the latest news and trends in GMO labeling, legislation, and certification and discuss how upcoming events in GMOs will affect you and your business.


Pitch Perfect! Press Tips to Get Your Food Business Covered
  • 8:00am-9:00am
  • Terry Frishman, Adam Rapoport, Adam Sachs, and Adam Glassman
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

The media is always looking for a good story—learn how to tell them yours! We'll show you how to pitch your product or your store and the story behind your brand so that editors will listen. Getting relevant press coverage is often one of the key stepping stones to success in the specialty food business, and the right coverage comes with the right pitch. Consultant Terry Frishman of Culinest and Creative Marketing Workshops will show you how to get noticed and get covered.

The panel features Adam Rapoport, Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appétit magazine and; Adam Sachs, Tasting Table's Editorial Director; and Adam Glassman, Creative Director of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Terry and the panel of editors will cover topics like:

  • How to research and target appropriate media prior to pitching
  • How to compose a pitch letter or email that gets editors interested
  • How to talk to the press at a trade show
  • For manufacturers: how and when to send samples
  • For retailers: how to get media to visit your store
  • How to get deskside meetings, what to bring, and what to say
  • What to do when your product or store is covered


How to Grow a Team: Recruitment, Interviews, and Hiring for Retailers
  • 9:00am-10:00am
  • Emilio Mignucci, Jill Leonard Tavello, and Paula Brannon
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

Recruiting and hiring is a huge part of your success as a retailer, whether you have one small store or a national enterprise. In this session, you'll hear from thriving businesses about how they find the right people, train them well, and keep them motivated.

You'll learn how to reach out into the community and connect with individuals who would be excellent ambassadors for your brand and help draw them in. You'll also hear about some of the issues that come up with scheduling part-time help and student workers, and get help with troubleshooting your concerns and questions. Please bring examples from your own experience–this is a great chance to learn from your peers.


Social Media Best Practices for Restaurants: Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and More
  • 9:00am-10:00am
  • Jennifer Baum
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

These days, social media can make or break a restaurant.  Whether you're Instagramming the night's specials, tweeting about a promotion, running a contest on Facebook, or dealing with a tricky review on Yelp, the right touch can really make a difference.

Your host for this session will be Jennifer Baum, president and founder of Bullfrog & Baum, an award-winning, nationally-recognized agency specializing in hospitality, lifestyle and consumer marketing and public relations.  Jennifer's guests, a distinguished panel of experts who have been in the social media trenches, will share their success stories and discuss what works - and what doesn't - when restaurants go online.

Panelists will include Emily Karpin, Director of Communications, Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy (Landmarc + Ditch Plains); Katherine Bryant Flaherty, Chief Creative Officer, Bullfrog + Baum; Maia Raposo, Marketing Manager, Brooklyn Brewery; and Macae Lintelman, Associate Manager, Social Media and Digital Marketing for Max Brenner International.


Maximize Your Trade Spending Dollars
  • 9:00am-10:00am
  • John Maggiore
  • $39 member / $89 non-member

Trade spending is one of the best ways to optimize your relationship with retailers—we'll show you how to get plenty of bang for your buck. John Maggiore will walk you through the details you need to know, revealing the motivations of retailers and how to make the most of your promotions and increase the number of cases sold on every promotion you do.

In this one-hour seminar, you'll learn how to:

  • Understand promotional programs
  • Maximize opportunities at each retail customer
  • Make your displays support your promotions
  • Determine your feature price
  • Evaluate the success of your promotions and plan for the next round.


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Member Discount

Specialty Food Association Members receive 50-100% off education, both online and in person.  Learn about becoming a member in the Membership Information section.