SAN FRANCISCO — Toasted mealworms, puffed seaweed snacks and zero-proof gin and tonic are among the cutting-edge concepts highlighted in the Incubator Village at the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show, held Jan. 19-21 in San Francisco.
The Specialty Food Association is dedicating more floor space to early-stage brands partnering with food incubators to develop and scale their products. Incubators participating this year include The Hatchery Chicago, Oregon State Food Innovation Center, Portland, Ore.; La Cocina, San Francisco; KitchenTown, San Mateo, Calif.; and Hope & Main, Warren, R.I.
“We’re committed to the success of the industry, and for more and more start-ups these days success starts in an incubator,” said Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association. “It’s terrific to showcase those early days of business and give everyone at our shows a look at the future. Incubator Village began as a sliver of incubators within the show and was initially known as Incubator Alley. The response from show attendees and members alike was overwhelmingly positive, which is why we have expanded it into a ‘village’ of incubators.”
Businesses previously featured at the Incubator Village and cited by the Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel include Snow Monkey, a brand of non-dairy frozen desserts; Nona Lim, a producer of Asian bone broths, soups, rice and ramen noodles; and Scraps Frozen Foods, a maker of par-baked pizzas topped with imperfect or underutilized produce.
“Innovation is a top draw, especially for retailers looking to add to their offerings and these young companies bring an extra level of excitement to the show,” Mr. Kafarakis said. “For buyers, it’s an opportunity to get in at the ground floor of a burgeoning trend for their customers, for attendees and other exhibitors it is a source of inspiration, and for the presenters themselves, the exposure to top press and buyers from around the world is unparalleled.”