America’s Sweet Tooth for Desserts Grows But Portions Get Smaller, 3rd Annual Great American Dessert Expo Hears
June 9, 2005
Las Vegas …Americans are eating more desserts than ever, but the portions are getting significantly smaller. This was the conclusion of dessert industry experts at the 3rd Annual Great American Dessert Expo, which took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center June 3-5. The show, held in conjunction with Coffeefest, is the nation’s first trade show dedicated exclusively to the huge dessert industry.
John Stricker of Bakery.com, a manufacturer and distributor of baking equipment says he has noticed the trend in the equipment he sells. “Cookie sheets are now full of smaller cookies. People want the taste but not the calories.” This was also the conclusion of Antoinette Bruno, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of StarChefs.com, a 10-year old organizer of many events for chefs. She also noted the drive to be different when it comes to desserts: “Cutting edge pastry chefs are even coming up with desserts that mix savory with sweets.”
“While Americans are generally committed to eating healthier, they are looking for the creative ideas that offer them the healthfulness and the taste,” said Menachem Lubinsky of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting, a New York based strategic marketing company that organized the show. This new trend prompted Brita DeBrest of Gaithersburg , Md. to launch Veggielicious, cookies using only organically grown vegetables. “This show was a wonderful place for us to showcase our trendy cookies,” said Brita. John Merck of Brent & Sam’s emphasizes that his gourmet kosher certified cookies are made with no added preservatives and “believe me it’s what customers want.”
Many exhibits showcased pastries and other desserts that often act as signature presentations to the most elegant parties. Amber Silver of Atkins International Foods in Noblesville , IN displayed some mouth watering pastries. Her upscale tasty cakes are sold in such places as Bloomingdale’s in New York . Not far away was the exhibit of Rita Kwok of Le Chef in Montebello , CA , where some of the trendy “mini-pastries” were on display. Diane Maxwell, general manger of Jazz Fine Foods, is taking advantage of the growing demand in Las Vegas for her line of high end beautifully decorated cakes, purees and even breads. Founded just two years ago by Laureat Durot, a bakery family based in Montreal .
Amongst the nearly 5,000 trade visitors that visited the dessert and coffee shows were many chefs, bakers, and other buyers of desserts. They were focused on booths that served the industry, from cake decorating by Los Angeles based Parrish’s Cake Decorating Supplies to South Florida based Aluma Works which markets all of the different pans bakers use. “Amazingly,” says owner Rod Haber, “many of the pans on display are the same as my grandfather used,” as if to say that the principles of good baking haven’t changed.
The International flavor at the Great American Dessert Expo was not lost on visitors, headed by a large pavilion of products made in Sicily . The pavilion was the brainchild of Francesco Bisagnano. BIS International in cooperation with Regione Siciliane, the Regional Ministry for Cooperation, Trade, Craft and Fisheries. “ Italy is a leader in creative desserts,” said Mr. Bisagnano. The showcase included artistic glassware for use by high end establishments of Tiffany’s Studio and Art Work (Siracusa), the natural marmalades of Colle Vicario, particularly in orange and strawberries, some typical Italian products like virgin olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, pesto sauce, and rosolio from Tuttosiciliy, biscuits from Costa di Costa and almond pastries from Savastra. The exhibit signature was its Baronessa Scintilia dessert wines, including Inzolia-Chardonnay, Syrah, and Nero D’Avola.
Louis and Dora Bonaccolta of College Point , NY also import some of the finest Italian dessert products, including gourmet chocolates, which Louis says “consumers readily pay for.” Everything he imports such as cookies, biscotti and preserves are of the “best quality.” The Bonaccoltas made some excellent contacts at the show.
The Dessert Expo was meant to showcase “everything that you find on a Viennese table,” said Nina Feiner, show manager. Gelato is a staple commonly found on a fancy dessert display, which is why Tom Sullivan of Gel-Tec International was showing off Italian made machines that produce the finest gelatos. “We don’t just sell machines. We actually train chefs and others to make great tasting gelato,” Sullivan said.
Education was also the theme for several exhibitors marketing chocolate fountains that are a hit at festive parties and events. Chocolate fountains enhances almost every dessert or snack. Demonstrations how the product works with strawberries, pretzels and marshmallows at one of the many educational seminars at the Expo in Las Vegas, helped prove that chocolate fountains are perfect “for every chocoholic.”
Choco Fountain - Chocolate Fountains of Grand Island Nebraska had its own innovation for the chocolate fountain. It came up with a base that can be readily removed and thus easily cleaned. Andy Znamenacek says it solved an enormous problem for the foodservice industry in keeping the machines clean. Ian Lazarus of ChocoVision based in Poughkeepsie added a touch to the art of making good chocolate with his chocolate tempering machines.
Tradition was also the keyword for the many displays of cheesecake, which Ron Schutte of Brooklyn Cheesecake & Dessert Co. says “remains the leading dessert in the US .” Schutte cites industry statistics that Americans consume $1 billion of cheesecake each year. While Brooklyn , NY still may have the panache of good home made cheesecake, Wisconsin Cheesecake Co, in the heart of dairy country, displayed a range of all natural cheesecake that “promotes good health,” according to Mitch Viegut, a musician turned dessert enterepeneur who touts his natural ingredients.
Ingredients were in abundance, highlighted by a booth that showed off such brands as Snicker’s Oreos and M&M’s. It was the display by TR Toppers of Flower Mound Texas that actually crushes the popular cookies and confectionary for inclusion in ice cream and other products. Robert Schwartz says adding the brand ingredients “often makes the difference between success and failure for a product.”
Product enhancement was also the theme for Salt Lake City ’s Snowie’s which showcased snowed iced equipment, vending carts, trailers, and kiosks as well as ice shavors, flavor concentrates, and shaved ice supplies.
For many of the visitors, who had filled up on good coffee at Coffeefest and desserts at the Great American Dessert Expo, the finishing touch may have been one of the excellent desert wines that were on display. It might have been a great Italian Chardonnay from Tenute Chiaramonte in Italy , or the chocolate and vanilla dessert wines by Knipprath Cellars of Spokane, WA, where Henning Knipprath was explaining how he blends the flavored desert wines with Columbia Valley appellation grapes. Maggie Bush and her husband specialize in quality dessert wines that they produce in their own vineyard in Camino , CA . They showcased a dessert wine called New-World Port.
While the concept of a separate show for desserts was still a “babe in the woods,” as one visitor called it, organizers were already planning to double the size of the Great American Dessert Expo next year, June 9-11, 2006 at the Las Vegas Convention Center .
For additional information call 718-854-4450, or visit us at www.dessertexpo.com.
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