Virginia made its presence known at the Fancy Foods Show on Monday with more than 50 exhibitors hailing from the commonwealth. The state had one of the largest exhibition blocks at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to showcase its homegrown talent.
There were seasoned convention vets like Route 11, a potato chip company based in Mount Jackson, Va. Founder Sarah Cohen has been attending Fancy Food since the early 1990s and credits the convention for much of the growth of her company. Indeed, she closed a deal with Smallman Street Deli in Pittsburgh for 50 cases of chips, or a palette worth, while talking to a Capital Business reporter.
“About half of our business has been generated from attending these shows,” Cohen explained, noting that she is coming up on her 20 year anniversary in 2012. To date, the chips, with such flavors as Dill Pickle and Chesapeake Crab, are carried at roughly 3,000 stores across the country.
Pamela Barefoot hasn’t quite reached that level of penetration with her line of gourmet dips, nuts, seasonings and beverages, made under the Blue Crab Bay Co. banner. The Melfa, Va. company, however, has had a successful wholesale business and a store on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for some 26 years.
Barefoot would like a bit more local exposure. She would love to see her recently released “Surf Doggie” nuts carried in Washington area specialty stores. In the meantime, she is gearing up to launch a line of blue crab inspired pottery next spring.
Around the bend from Blue Crab Bay, Leah Kuo and Laura Englander, the ladies behind Cookies & Corks in Falls Church, were proudly displaying their new single flavor packs of sweet and savory cookies. The pair has sold multi-flavored boxes of cookies, designed to pair with wine, for the past two years.
Naturally, the cookies can be found at wine stores and speciality shops. All told, about 80 stores in the mid-Atlantic and along the West Coast carry the cookies. Kuo is hoping to catch the eye of retailers from the New York-New Jersey corridor.
Likewise, Marion Braswell is looking to connect with store owners along the east coast. For now, Marion’s Smart Delights, an Arlington-based line of gluten-free baking mixes, can be picked up in a dozen local grocery stores, including Mom’s Organic Market.
Braswell stayed up until 1 a.m baking trays and trays of strawberry lemon bars, blueberry cookies, lime bars and shortbread cookies to demonstrate the possibilities of the mix. There are 40 recipes on her website that can be made from her two mixes.