Australian Functional Ingredients – by Vic Cherikoff

USA trade shows and Australia Day

Well it’s been a week since I and colleague Benjamin Christie returned from several weeks in the USA. We had meetings over the development of a new concept restaurant taking its first steps to becoming a chain. Then off to LA for G’day LA which was held at the Luxe Hotel courtesy of an Australian GM and probably the only reason it was held there.

If I were to judge the event in terms of quality distributors from major retail chains and who were meant to come through, then I’d score it as a near waste of time and effort. Maybe they just missed my table which was tucked away in a corner outside and saw precious few visitors. Or maybe the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco the following weekend was more than enough for them to catch export ready producers with interesting products. However, just one lead to an opportunity and a couple of journalists might yet salvage the resources I invested in being there. Lucky I was in town anyway as I would not have been a happy camper otherwise. As it were, the lead I mentioned, took us to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Chinois and we ate our way through 10 courses of a menu which has remained the same for 15 years. It must have been highly innovative in its day as numerous elements were still very interesting. Little wonder you need an in to get a table there. I refer you to Benjamin’s blog to get the low down on the meal but suffice to say it was great to meet such a famous chef.

The San Francisco Fancy food Show was a different kettle of foods. The usual north and south pavilions of the Moscone Center were nearly crammed with exhibitors although less full than 4 years ago when I visited last. Interestingly, many of the same exhibitors were there and they were still blowing away tastebuds with their “Screamin’ Bitches Chili Sauce” or Ass Kickin’ Hot Sauces. There were so many products including a swag of new ones springing from the minds of America’s kitchens. I’m looking forward to the next show where maybe someone might even present the perfect beverage – Instant water – light and convenient to shop, minimum packaging and easy to use (just add water). Don’t laugh. I spoke to one company which is working on flavoured waters using this concept.

I guess one obvious thing common to many trade shows around the world was evident: Most of the exhibitors had signage which focused on themselves not on their potential clients. This is a bugbear of mine. Why hang up a shingle screaming of the features of what you offer when everyone else is doing the same? Why not promote what you can do for potential clients’ businesses?

For example, Vic Cherikoff Food Services does not sell a wide range of authentic Australian ingredients to restaurants and manufacturers and which happen to be the very best quality herbs, spices, fruits, extracts and more.

I market a unique method of adding serious brand value to whatever you do – be it cook in a restaurant, prepare great food in your home or manufacture innovative foods, beverages or cosmetics. So rather than stick my name in lights on a trade show stand and be bothered by tyre kickers who have no real interest in what I could do for them, I’d have something like:

“Set your restaurant (or food products) apart from the rest – we sell innovation – great value, incredible results.”

This pulls in chefs and food manufacturers looking for new ideas. They are open and receptive to doing something different and want a better outcome for their businesses than they have currently. I’ve narrowed my target market, upped the quality of enquiries and saved a heap of time in follow ups with a better ROI from the show. Make sense?

Contact me if you want my input to your menu or new product development. We even help with your marketing.



Vic Cherikoff