Overseas vendors showcase new products at trade show
At least 30 vendors were showing off everything from Bundt cakes to WypAll Wipers for cleaning up in restaurants at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess yesterday, during the annual Butterfield & Vallis 2014 Trade Show.
The vendors came from as far away as France, although primarily the US and the UK, to show off their goods.
At the hotel's Harbourview Ballroom, a steady stream of attendees from the retail sales and restaurant business were making the rounds of the show.
Alun Hughes, Butterfield & Vallis president and general manager of the food service division, said: “This is an event we do annually — the intention is to showcase products for the upcoming season. We have food items, speciality items and non-food items.
“It's designed to bring leading edge products to the Island, rather than people having to go overseas to see them at other food shows.”
Mr Hughes said they had technology providers, including DataTech — a Bermuda company who sells Point Of Sale (POS) machines, represented. “This year is the first time we've done this — we want the show to be as fully integrated, as much as possible,” he said.
In addition to vendors displaying their wares, there were silent auction items, including a barbecue and a picnic table, on the floor to benefit Bermuda charities. “We've partnered with the Bermuda Hospitality Institute and their Plates of Passion initiative,” he said, explaining Plates of Passion is designed to encourage young people to get into the food industry, and so students had been invited to come with their mentors to walk through the show.
In addition, Butterfield & Vallis were honouring Tomasz Tabor yesterday, the well known Victoria Grill chef who was recently killed in a traffic accident, in one of their charitable silent auctions and subsequent gift to charity.
Kate Cabral, sales manager of the food service division, added: “We include the community as much as we can, and we are a family company,” explaining that through the families of employees at Butterfield and Vallis, the company touches people throughout Bermuda.
Ms Cabral said her team had been working on the trade show since October 2013. The show opened its doors at 11am and was to run until 6pm yesterday evening.
They also have made the event a way to promote Bermuda. Butterfield & Vallis staff were wearing colourful shirts with tropical patterns, and Pharrel Williams' song “Happy” welcomed visitors and vendors into the event. “And we had the Gombeys come to our dinner last night,” she said.
At the trade show itself, Liza Bensimon, the Bridor de France representative, explained her company produces everything from colourful macaroons to the basic croissant. “Everything here is GM free without any colourants or additives,” she said. “This is just a small selection of what we do — we also do breads, green teas and more. And we work with Callebaut, a large chocolate manufacturer in Europe.”
Just across from Ms Bensimon's booth, a vendor was selling chef's aprons.
And the food production giant General Mills was there. Jorge Cebreros, a corporate chef who was representing the company in Bermuda, said it was his third visit to the Island.
“It's important for us to be where our customers are,” he said. “We like to make a relationship with them — it's good to be with customers and old friends, and nice to be in Bermuda,” he said. “We can increase our sales and strengthen relationships.”
He said although the economy had been through a slump: “There are going to be difficult times for the people, but you have a great opportunity to grow from innovation, and customers are looking for ideas and opportunities.”
At his booth, there were miniature Bundt cakes, biscuits as well as muffins on show.
Kimberley-Clark was on hand with an array of its paper products and cleaning materials.
The meat industry vendors in attendance included DeBragga — 'New York's Butcher', who had teamed up with the US Meat Export Federation to introduce new ideas for cuts of meat.
Caribbean manager Elizabeth Wunderlich, pulling out a big cut of chilled beef to demonstrate, explained: “Instead of a whole New York strip, you can split it into smaller portions, so you can do a little fillet strip.
“Beef- and pork-cut prices are going to be high — so perhaps you have a smaller part, but better quality — you downsize to afford the price,” she said.
Another example was the bottom sirloin flap cut of beef. “We're showcasing this cut, to use instead of flank steak,” she said.
Beaver Street Fisheries from Jacksonville, Florida were promoting their Sea Best products.
“Our company has been doing business with Butterfield & Vallis for 40 years,” said Carlos Mercado, who is in export sales for the company. “We do food service and retail, and we sell shrimp, mahi mahi, wahoo and grouper. Everything that we can sell in the US coastal towns, we can sell here,” he said.
“We've moved into retail — Lindo's supermarkets carries our Sea Best brand,” he said.
Lucy and Lou DiLiso sell Casa Di Lisio frozen Italian sauces: Pesto Alla Genovese, No Nut Basil Pesto, Walnut Pesto, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and many more. In business since 1973, about four years ago they realised they had been selling gluten-free products, which were also transfat free with very low sodium. Mr DiLiso made up a sign — on display at his booth, trumpeting those facts, and he reported that interest in his products has risen exponentially as a result. “People are eating this way, and they feel better, even if they are not coeliac,” he said, and pointed out they also sell some vegan sauces.
Gosling's was a local vendor at the food show, and senior sales manager Mark Harrington said they were on hand to meet with chefs and restaurant owners. They had a range of wine labels on display and also craft beers, two brands of which were Magic Hat and Dundee.
“The show is looking successful,” he said, explaining they work with Butterfield & Vallis for a second annual food show which is held at their Gosling's premises.
Commenting on the business environment, he said: “People are looking for new and interesting products.
“I do detect an improvement,” he said. “Things have stabilised and I've seen some growth — and some accounts are doing better.”