With over 1,400 exhibiting brands at the 2015 Winter Fancy Food Show, FBU took the opportunity to do some polling, asking industry professionals three questions: 1) What is trending in specialty food? 2) What advice would they give to entrepreneurs knowing what they know now? 3) How does a brand owner start building an independent retail network?
We focused our interview on seven brand owners ranging from Smári Ásmundsson, who produces an organic, ultra-high protein Icelandic yogurt, to Andy Hanenberg, who makes small-batch beef jerky in exotic flavors like Spicy Coffee and Lemon Mint. Our brand owners ran the gamut in experience from Simple Mill’s Kaitlin Smith, who started her healthy baking mix company two years ago, to industry veteran Robert Ehrlich, who founded Robert’s American Gourmet Food, which produced snacks such as Pirate’s Booty and now Sexy Pop, almost 20 years ago.
During the interviews, several responses rang true for many of the brand owners. When asked about what advice they would give to entrepreneurs starting out, the responses were clear: “Ask, ask, ask!” said Bill Keith from Perfect Bar. “If I could go back in and tell myself 10 years ago, [I would] go to different entrepreneurs that have already made it and ask them what they did differently,” Keith added.