Rise of the Urban Foodscape: A Virtual Tradeshow in the Pandemic Era
Rise of the Urban Foodscape, a virtual tradeshow powered by FuzeHub, was held on February 24, 2021 and was co-hosted by the Long Island Food Council and the Manufacturing and Technology Resource Consortium (MTRC), in partnership with Manufacturing and Technology Enterprise Center (MTEC) and ITAC NYC.
With over 200 general attendees, 97 exhibitors joined the tradeshow to promote their products, meet buyers and suppliers, and network with the rest of the food and beverage ecosystem in finding a way forward in the post-pandemic era. The event provided unique possibilities for networking and interaction - which are more important now in these challenging times of a global pandemic and isolation.
The event platform gave the participants an opportunity to exhibit from a virtual table, “walk” the virtual tradeshow floor, or even sit down at different tables to conduct a virtual meeting. Buyers, suppliers, and industry experts were able to communicate with each other either in chat or via video conferencing, share their experiences, connect with NYS resources that help food and beverage manufacturers, and discover potential new business partners.
The keynote speaker, Stew Leonard Jr., President and CEO of Stew Leonard’s Supermarkets, shared his experience of navigating the family-owned farm’s fresh food business through the pandemic while reorganizing it for effective work in the post-COVID era. He said that he anticipated the return of consumers to the food business as more and more people get vaccinated. Kyle Chandler, the founder of Subtle Tea Company, told the story of how his passion for creating things and his love for good tea helped him to start his business. Other speakers included event organizers Michael Tucker, the President of the Long Island Food Council; Alexis Wilson, Project Manager, MTEC; and Cynthia Colón, Program Manager of the Stony Brook University’s MTRC. Everton H. Henriques, NY Manufacturing Extension Partnership Solution Director, FuzeHub, served as the MC.
Three exhibitors were awarded the CARE grant supporting up to $10k in virtual services through the regional MEP Center: Hudson Valley Cold Pressed Oils, Amagansett Sea Salt Company, and the South Fork Bakery for the Special Needs, Corp. The winners were announced during the show and later met representatives of their regional MEP Center to discuss the details of the support provided with the grant.