By Andrea Lillo
Now held in a new month, and back in a former popular location, the Gourmet Housewares Show will be the scene for new housewares product for the industry this month.
Amid a challenging economy, manufacturers are using the event as a way to continue to show new product as well as network with retailers.
Amazon is one of the retailers scheduled to attend the show. “In general, trade shows are a great way to get a read on the industry and find vendors and manufacturers that aren’t familiar with Amazon,” said Chris Nielsen, vice president of Amazon home and garden. For the e-tailer, one of the categories that has been hot since before the holidays to the present is wine and wine-related products— wine glasses, aerators, openers, etc. “They do well for us,” he said. “There’s great product out there.”
Food prep was another strong category for Amazon as more people are choosing to cook and entertain at home. “Our customers are interested in finding a particular item, such as a mango splitter, and the industry has done a good job of offering a product that helps with that.”
Terry Retter, owner of the e-tailer YourSmartKitchen.com, which launched about two years ago, has never been to the Gourmet Show, but being Bay Area based it made sense to attend, he said. He’d like to expand its small appliance selection because of its good gross margins. In addition, “I’d like to do more tools and gadgets,” but even with the high margins it’s difficult to sell when shipping costs range between $8 to $15. About 40 percent of the site’s sales are from clay bakers, which surprised him. “We just threw them up there,” he said, jokingly adding, “I think it’s a cult.” Its cast iron category is also starting to do well, he said.
“We are really looking forward to the Gourmet Show,” said Monique Haas, marketing director, the Gourmac division of Hutzler Manufacturing Co. “I think that having it in August (as opposed to May) will be a boost for holiday sales. It is also a great opportunity to unveil our new products that typically are not ready in the spring.” She added that though the attendance at local shows was down, the retailers that attended made purchases.
“At a time when the housewares industry is facing economic challenges, it is important that Cuisinart continues to maintain a high level of visibility among retail customers,” said Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications, Cuisinart, and “exhibiting at the Gourmet Show is an effective means of doing that.”
Cuisinart has several new products, such as the new Elite Collection Food Processors, that will be featured at the show. In addition, the company will attempt to prove that it’s a viable brand for water-filtration products, highlighting its patented CleanWater Countertop Filtration System at the show. The new product includes a clear, removable water tank with a two-gallon capacity, and dispenses hot, cold and room-temperature water. It’s capable of heating water to up to 194 degrees and cooling water to as low as 44 degrees.
Priced to retail at $129, the CleanWater Countertop Filtration System comes with an Energy Saver feature that reduces energy usage by more than 50 percent, according to a Cuisinart statement.
“Innovation is the driving force behind the Cuisinart brand, and will be what drives traffic to the booth as well,” Rodgers said. “Our retailers count on us to deliver innovation in the small electrics and cookware categories.”
Gourmac’s Haas sees retailers looking for quality product at affordable prices. “Our food savers such as the popular Onion Saver, Tomato Saver and new Pepper Saver are cute, colorful and highly functional while being very reasonably priced,” Haas said. “Similarly our new Cupcake Stacker offers fun and stylish entertaining that won’t break the bank.”
Whitford Worldwide will be showing its full line of coatings at Gourmet, with an emphasis on its new Eterna non-stick coating, which the company said is more durable than traditional coatings and has a smooth, reflective finish to give it a high gloss. It is also a two-coat system, instead of the typical three coats for a non-stick, resulting in simpler application and less inventory to manage.
Starfrit will be launching its new gourmet line of kitchen products specifically for the specialty and gourmet store retailer, said Juanita Coumbias, international sales and marketing director, Atlantic Promotions/Feature Products, and the additions will include upscale versions of its best sellers and debuts in the serveware category.
“We have very high hopes for this show,” she said. “Focusing on today’s eco trends, our new ranges are whimsical yet elegant, fun yet quality oriented and all are perfect for gift giving,” Coumbias added. “We will continue to build on current hot trends, focusing more specifically on an excellent price/quality ratio, in our mini cookware and mini serveware ranges, as well as our innovative approach to everyday kitchen gadgets.”
Vita-Mix is using the show as an opportunity to introduce its Professional Series 500 to specialty retailers, said Dan Koch, sales manager, retail/dealer division. “The new model has all of the same innovative features as our popular CIA Professional Series, but now incorporates three new programmed settings that were selected based on customer feedback on the machine’s most popular uses—smoothies, hot soups and frozen desserts.”