Food manufacturers from the territory’s State Trade and Export Promotion and officials from the V.I. Economic Development Authority will take part in New York City’s 59th Annual Summer Fancy Food Show beginning Sunday.
The food exposition will run through Tuesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, according to Percival E. Clouden , chief executive officer of the VIEDA.
The U.S. Virgin Islands contingent will host a reception titled “A Taste of the USVI” from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel in New York City. Participants will include these local businesses: W-RIGHT Apiary, V.I. Fruit Preserves, Tropical Pops Popsicles, Grandma Joe’s Lemon Grass Iced Tea and Buddha Sushi.
This is the first time that the attendees of the Summer Fancy Food show will be exposed to some of these beloved Virgin Islands delicacies.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. said the New York trade show will open doors for the territory’s food producers.
“This is EDA’s first step towards exposing our small businesses to the potential opportunities of exporting their products and services," deJongh said. "There is absolutely no reason our businesses should be restricted to our physical borders and this is exposing them to the possibilities.”
The annual food show will allow local food manufacturers from the STEP program to participate in the show’s training programs and to connect and network with 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries and regions promoting their products.
The Summer Fancy Food show is one of North America’s two largest specialty food and beverage events, according to the VIEDA news release.
“This annual event is indeed an awesome opportunity for our USVI STEP participants,” Clouden said. "I am also excited about the upcoming reception and its potential to help these local small businesses thrive and grow through these types of initiatives and export-related activities.”
The Fancy Food Shows are hosted by the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit business trade association established in 1952 to foster trade, commerce and interest in the $86 billion specialty food industry. The association is made up of more than 3,000 member companies, including domestic and foreign manufacturers, importers, distributors, brokers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers and other specialty food businesses.
Nadine Marchena Kean, U.S. Virgin Islands STEP project coordinator, said Sunday’s reception will allow island food manufacturers to put their best foot forward in front of the world.
“The USVI’s STEP program’s food manufacturers will represent the best of the V.I.’s food industry at the reception in New York City," she said, "bringing forth food products that are infused with the islands’ locally grown fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs."
The STEP program is authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 through the U.S. Small Business Administration. It is a three-year pilot program trade-initiative that is designed to help small businesses grow, increase their exporting activities, and raise the value of the products and services. The program was awarded a $322,498 grant to assist qualified local small businesses export their products and services to foreign markets.
Further information on the USVI’s STEP participants is online at www.usvimarketplace.com.