Interview of Sarah Nguyen, Senior Trade Advisor, UBIFRANCE UNITED STATES – NEW YORK OFFICE
e-Toile: Briefly, what is the purpose of this event?
The aim of the French Food Connection is to allow French companies to expand sales in the U.S. market by meeting and connecting with new business partners. It is also an opportunity for U.S. buyers to expand their offerings by including new, authentic French products; artisanal, yet innovative.
e-Toile: What French companies are participating?
Our exhibitors this year are proposing an offering of French savoir-faire that is already reknowned and appreciated worldwide (cheeses, vinegars, mustards, cookies, macaroons, petit fours, chocolates) as well as new products like fruit-based desserts, caviar, terrines and rillettes with caviar, salmon and natural energy drinks made from sugarcane juice.
e-Toile: We’re just coming out of a long period of economic crisis in which the American market as well as the American consumers were particularly affected. How were French products affected during this period and what is the current trend?
Contrary to most expectations, the market for gourmet products, on which France relies heavily, was not affected by the economic crisis.
For several years now, eating habits and tastes of Americans are gradually changing: they do not eat more but, instead, eat better and look towards authentic products which are rich in taste. Gourmet products are considered an "affordable luxury" and a way to easily decorate meals.
e-Toile: Beyond their well-known gastronomic standing, French professionals in this sector are very creative in what we here call, "gourmet food," and are constantly developing new consumer products. Is the U.S. market receptive of these new trends?
The “foodism” culture spread rapidly in the U.S. Trends are usually initiated in the major cities located on the coasts (East: New York; West LA / San Francisco), but they spread rather quickly through media communications. The American interest in cooking can be observed in the proliferation of magazines and television programs dealing with the subject.
According to some estimates, there are now 31 million "Casual Foodies" in the U.S., with the Food Network reaching more than 90 million households and with nearly 2 million fans on FB, and finally, 60 million cookbooks and magazines being sold in 2010.
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