Marky's Caviar - Thousands expected to attend the 14th Americas Food & Beverage Show

Posted on October 22, 2010

French wine in a can, Osetra caviar from farm-raised Caspian sturgeon, hemp-based energy drinks, coconut water enhanced with chia and eco-friendly charcoal made from coconut shells.

Those are just a few of the thousands of food and food-related products that will be on display next week at the 14th Americas Food & Beverage Show in Miami Beach.

More than 370 exhibitors from 24 countries are expected at the food and beverage marketplace, which will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Sixty-plus are from Miami-Dade County; 26 others are from various locations around Florida.

Among the local companies that will be exhibiting are Marky's Caviar, which imports, exports and distributes gourmet food, including farm-raised Osetra; Chill Drinks, maker of the hemp-based beverages; and EnviroCharcoal, which imports Charconut briquettes from Asia.

Exhibitors range from the very small Mediterranean Diet Online, which employs five locally, to Coosemans Miami, part of a worldwide network that imports everything from organic herbs to Turkish apricots.

About 7,200 buyers and visitors -- from distributors and food and beverage managers at resorts and cruise lines to chefs and duty-free operators -- are expected at the event. It's the place to come to learn about the latest products and flavors from around the world, taste samples, check out packaging trends or do a bit of comparison shopping.

Although the event isn't open to the public, the new products on display and traditional favorites will eventually make their way to store shelves and restaurant tables across the Americas.

The past few years have been tough ones for the food industry as consumers cut back on restaurant dining and purchases of gourmet food, and the same was true for the Americas Food & Beverage Show.

But this year, registration is up and exhibitors anticipate doing more business than last year, said Charlotte Gallogly, president of the World Trade Center Miami, which is organizing the event.

This year the USA Pavilion, with 107 exhibitors, will be the largest ever. A U.S. government initiative, it will focus on companies that are new to exporting or new to a particular market. More than 1,100 appointments with foreign buyers have been set up for Pavilion exhibitors.

"President [Barack] Obama has said he wants to double exports over the next five years. Well, you're not going to do that with new-to-export companies," Gallogly said. "You've got to do it with existing companies moving into new territories."

"We're interested in helping these smaller players generate new sales," Gallogly said. "You won't see Coke on the exhibition floor by design."

There will also be more than a dozen international pavilions from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Jamaica, Peru and Thailand.

Since the show began, it has generated billions of dollars in sales and sales leads, Gallogly said. After last year's show, exhibitors reported $103.6 million in sales or expected sales over the next 12 months. "I expect sales will be up about 10 percent for this year's show," she said.

For some local companies, the show is a way to introduce their products and get on the specialty food map.

Chill Drink, a start-up, will be showing its Chillo energy drink and C+Swiss, an all-natural hemp-infused ice tea. Chillo is now being distributed in about 400 South Florida stores, and the hemp tea is expected to reach the market in the next two to three months.

"We find trade shows a great way to get some start-up marketing going, especially among the big players in the industry," said Ilan Behar, Chill marketing director.

While energy drinks are a very competitive segment of the beverage market, he said, Chillo -- which has a slight hint of citrus but no medicinal aftertaste -- has its own niche. "There are a couple of other hemp drinks out there, but they're billed as relaxation drinks, rather than energy drinks," Behar said.

This will be the third Americas Food & Beverage Show for Marky's Caviar, a Miami Gardens company that has about 3,500 items in its product line, including cheeses, chocolates and truffles flown in from Europe; foie gras, smoked salmon, a wide selection of Spanish foods and, of course, caviar.

"The show is great for marketing," said Moshe Cohen, the company's sales director. Plus, he said, it's a chance to stay in touch with Marky's customers and distributors throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, where it has expanded in recent years.

Marky's will have 180 to 200 products on display at its booth.

One of the most exciting for Cohen is the Osetra, a high-end caviar with a nutty flavor. "This is really an alternative to wild sturgeon -- a breakthrough," he said.

Farm-raised sturgeon are generally a "distant cousin" to the sturgeon that swim in the Caspian Sea, Cohen said. But Marky's Osetra is harvested from fish that are descendants of sturgeon caught in the Caspian 18 years ago and then bred at a fish farm in Israel that uses river water fed by the snow melt from Mount Hermon.

Among other new products that Marky's will have on display are jams and preserves from Bonne Maman, an old-line French company, in one-ounce mini-jars favored by hotels and cruise lines, and pyramid-shaped tea bags from Tea Forte, a company that promotes a contemporary take on the tea ceremony.

While Marky's often visits clients around the region, "it's not like you can bring 400 samples with you," said Cohen, so the event is a good place to showcase products.

The show also will be about establishing bragging rights. There will be competitions in five categories to find the best coffee, confectionery, snack, sauce or condiment, and beverage. In partnership with the American Culinary Federation, 12 two-chef teams also will compete for honors and cash awards in the Americas Chef Competition.